Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Photovoltaic Panels

How much power do the photovoltaic panels provide for Prairie Ridge?

The panels generate 5.2 kilowatts (kW) of power. At approximately 4.4 hours of peak generation per day, this means the photovoltaics generate almost 23 KWh per day and over 8,000 KWh per year.

To put this in perspective, 12,000 KWh is about the total for a family of four’s annual household electricity consumption. We would create enough to power a fully operating house 24 hours a day for eight months.

The Outdoor Classroom’s power consumption varies by month, but the average monthly usage is approximately 275 KWh. The photovoltaics average about 690 KWh per month, so our power generation is much greater than consumption throughout most months of the year.

Photovoltaic panels at Prairie Ridge.

How practical are photovoltaic panels for home use?

Despite the initial installation costs, solar panels are now much easier to acquire, install and operate. If you are willing to makie the investment to set up a system, it will likely pay for itself in 10–20 years, especially if you sell your excess energy back to your local utility.

Are there any negative consequences of active solar energy?

The initial costs can be a substantial investment (in the tens of thousands of dollars), but continue to become more affordable. Electricity production decreases at night and during the winter when less solar radiation is available.

What are the advantages of photovoltaic panels?

Ultimately, generating your own power can get you totally off the local utility’s grid, which decreases dependence on other dirtier sources of energy such as coal, natural gas, nuclear and oil. Instead of buying power from the utility, you can actually feed the power you created back into the grid! (Your meter will move backwards.) By feeding the grid during peak energy usage, you reduce the need for less efficient power plant production. Recent laws require many power companies to buy renewable energy, so you save money and reduce the amount of global warming-causing gases entering the atmosphere.

And, of course, solar panel owners save a tremendous amount of money on their utility bill.  It is not uncommon to save $50 per month or more on an electricity bill with solar panels installed.