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TIA: Tennessee Inventors Association in Knoxville Tenn and Oak Ridge TN
Oak Ridge and Knoxville, TN  

June 2011 David Bolt and Solar Energy

Meeting Date: 
June 18, 2011

David Bolt was our featured speaker for the June 2011 TIA meeting. David is very active in the local development of solar energy and he spoke of his company: Sustainable Future.

Sustainable Future Solar Technology and Home Energy ImprovementsDavid Holt started his company Sustainable Future in 2005. The goal of Sustainable Future is to help home and business owners towards Net Zero Energy buildings. David is a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Certified Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system installer.

David explained the many types of Solar PV systems that his company can install for customers. There are a couple types of solar panel his company deals with Polycrystalline cells and Monocrystalline cells. Polycrystalline cells are most common and cheapest. He cautioned that the polycrystalline panel, when operating in higher then normal temperature, will have significantly reduced efficiency. A reduction of 14% to 23% can be expected. The monocrystalline panel is more stable; however, under elevated temperature the efficiency will also be reduced. A reduction of 12% to 15% can be expected. These reductions in output need to take into account during design of the system.

He also discussed that there is a sun tracking system to maximize sun light input, but the end user will have to due with maintenance issue like greasing the tracking system periodically.
Currently all the installation has some kind of incentive from the government or some private grants. Current payback is about 2-3 years heavily depends on incentive that was received. Igor Alexeff reminded us that the electric rate has increased from 4-5 cents per KiloWatt hour to 10 cents per KiloWatt hour.

David mentioned using a solar pathfinder to identify the best site or sites to install photovoltaic panels. In East Tennessee you want your panels to face south at approximately 35 degrees. The device will also check for any trees, buildings, or other structures that could shade the equipment in the chosen location. That info will be transfer to Sustainable Future’s software and generate a report to show how much power you can expect to produce with solar at the chosen location.

An important element for a Net Zero Energy building is to reduce Phantom Loads. This is done by installing a Whole House Meter. A display unit that plugs into any household outlet, a transmitting unit that hooked up to the AC circuit breaker box and two clamp on Current Transformers on the main circuit power lines. You'll know exactly how much energy is using at any time and don’t have to wait for the next month’s electric bill. You'll be able to see spikes in energy use on the display instantaneously.

David said that he had phantom loads of around 500 watts when he started his home project. He was able to reduce the phantom loads to around 100 watts with lots of detective work. The phantom loads includes always on digital clocks and appliances that have solid state controls.

David pointed out that it is common for attics to reach 120-150 deg F during the summer. With proper venting, radiant barrier and insulation this can keep the attic cool at around 80 deg F. Thus, the home will use less AC in the summer and less heat in the winter to reduce cooling and heating loads.

His Company installs the following systems: Direct, Off Grid, Grid Tie, Grid Tie with Battery back up system. About 80% of the installations are Grid Tie and about 5% are Grid Tie with battery back up. The advantage and disadvantage for Grid Tie system are: Simple; Size independent of Load; No Maintenance; but it will go down when the Grid goes down. Grid Tie with battery runs load independent of the system but it will increase cost and battery maintenance. Utility company will pay 12 cents over rate apply to your account.

David showed his negative electricity bill from his "Net Zero" Energy home.

Other Business:

Tom Kulaga discussed the patent law reform bill going through Congress. It is called the America Invents Acts, but should be better known as Mega Corporation Benefits Act. He discussed the mounting opposition to the patent reform bill and the reasons why it is not good for independent inventors.

Tom also announced that the East Tennessee Purchasing Association is having a convention in the coming week for products to be put forward to purchasing agents.

Dale Burress provided TIA with free business cards, envelopes, and scratch pads. Everyone was encouraged to use the business cards to promote the TIA.