Solar Detectives

The Solar Array at your school quietly converts sunlight to electricity everyday.  But if someone asked you “Is your Solar Array working? and if so, how well?”, how would you answer.  This lesson walks you through the steps to evaluate your school’s solar array, becoming an energy detective in the process.

Step 1 Estimate how much energy your solar array should produce each year, using PVWATTs estimation tool. You’ll need to know the tilt angle and azimuth angle of the array, and the Power rating [kW] of the solar array.   Follow this link to get started.

The result is that you’ll have an estimated energy production for each month of the year, in units of kilo-watt-hours [kWh].

Step 2. Open the  your school’s solar array webpage where data is updated every minute [‘real time’] and recorded so that you can review how it performed over time.
Link to
Schaefer Elementary School Solar Page
Analy High School Solar Page

Step 3.  Enter the data collected in Steps 1 and 2 on the chart on this Solar Schoolhouse page.  As you enter the data, the graph above will automatically update.  When you’re finished, you can print or save the graph as an jpg and pdf.