Sep 19, 2012

Solar Powered Electric Car Charging Station

I recently pulled in to the parking lot of the Town Hall in East Haven, Connecticut.  I was pleased to see that the building's roof had an impressive array of photovoltaic solar panels.  As I looked for a parking space, I discovered that they had also installed a GE solar powered electric car charging station.  Impressed, I took out my cell phone and snapped a few pictures.  

View of charging station's solar panels from below.  There are ten panels.

The station consists of ten solar panels mounted on a metal support structure.  Beneath the panels there is a concrete pad upon which the vehicle charger is mounted.  There is a box mounted to the support structure that probably has other functions, but it had an LCD display on it that stated how many pounds of carbon dioxide have not been released into the atmosphere thus far thanks to the installation of this charging station.


I think the way these things probably work is as follows...
The charging station is connected to the grid so that while it is not being used, it can feed the electricity it produces into the grid for consumption by anyone.  When a driver plugs his or her vehicle into the station, the panels divert their electricity from the grid to recharge the vehicle.  In the event that there is insufficient energy from the sun at the time, electricity from the grid will be used instead.
Note the additional photovoltaic array on the East Haven, CT Town Hall's roof.

Kudos to the town of East Haven, Connecticut for its forward looking vision.  Not only do they have the solar car charger and the panels on the town hall roof, but they also have huge photovoltaic solar panel installations on the roofs of four local schools.  Imagine if every town followed this example!  Yes it requires a lot of money up-front to begin, but down the line it winds up paying for itself, and then some.

Close-up of the underside of the solar panels.

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