(Pictures taken by PS 3003 and SEM student Sierra F.)
Students in PS 3003 Sustainable Energy dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled a sad dusty dirty Jimmy Carter solar panel from our collection in storage. They then estimated the energy conversion efficiency, using a pyranometer to measure the energy hitting the panel, and measuring the temperature rise in a known volume of water in the panel using basic principles, a stopwatch, and a "laser" thermometer.
This was the first exercise in this semester's class.
Activity goals: Familiarity with hand tools, safety precautions, sensors and instruments, experimental design, mensuration, problem solving, working in groups, and, last but not least, solar design and fabrication and maintenance of basic solar thermal equipment.
Hands-on, minds-on. It's just how we roll.
Results: The panels were 27% and 21% efficient. Last time we did this we had 10% and 24%. The main variable affecting the efficiency is the air sealing in the casement.