The starter laboratory discussed above consisted of a 2,000 watt PV array that includes crystalline silicon modules, a mock roof and hardware for instruction on mounting the array, one inverter for direct grid-tied applications, electrical balance-of-system components, and sufficient instrumentation to measure component and system performance. A much more complete and versatile laboratory is described below.  However, it costs approximately $40,000 more, with the total cost being less than $50,000. What do those additional dollars buy, and what added capabilities and value do they provide?

Shading analysis and site assessment are critical skills when designing PV arrays.  Practice with shading analysis tools is important for giving students the necessary experience in performing these vital tasks. Programs should provide additional tools for this when possible.

For the inverter lab, four (rather than one) grid-tied inverters and associated electrical BOS are used, adding approximately $4,500 to the cost compared to the starter laboratory. The added equipment will allow small student teams of 4 or 5 members per station for the inverter lab demonstrations and experiments.

Because a fair percentage of grid-tied PV systems in hurricane-prone areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts use batteries for backup power, laboratory experiments and student practice with bimodal inverters and systems is appropriate. The added cost for a bimodal inverter, batteries, and ancillary equipment is approximately $3,600.

For the array mounting and I-V measurements lab, four arrays, four roof mockups, and four mounting systems are used (rather than one). The added cost compared to the starter lab is approximately $15,000.

Finally, approximately $9,000 in added costs is associated with multiple numbers of measuring instruments, meters, safety equipment, tools and installation materials.  In summary, the laboratory presented below can provide student learners with hands-on experience using the equipment and procedures associated with PV systems design, installation, operation and maintenance.

 

PV Training Equipment for a Complete Laboratory That Costs Less Than $50,000
Assumes a class of 20 students
# of Items Item Vendor Unit Cost Total Cost Laboratory

Use

2

Pathfinder Solar Pathfinder

$270

$540

Shading and Site Survey Lab

 

1

Pathfinder Assistant Program Solar Pathfinder

$160

$160

2

Solmetrics Sun Eye 110 Solmetric

$1,500

$3,000

2

Solmetrics Sun Eye 210 Solmetric

$2,000

$4,000

Subtotal

$7,700

4

Inverter, PV Powered 2000SD Affordable Solar

$1,500

$6,000

Inverter Lab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Meter, AC kWh Hialeah Meter

$50

$200

4

Meter, AC can Home Depot

$30

$120

4

Disconnect, AC Home Depot

$30

$120

4

Breakers (x2), AC, 15 amp, SP Home Depot

$30

$120

4

Disconnect, DC, 30 amp, HU361 Affordable Solar

$175

$700

4

Box, DC, Combiner outback Outback Power Sys

$150

$600

4

Fuses (x2), DC,KLKD-15 Outback Power Sys

$25

$100

4

Fuse holder (x2), DC, 30 amp, DIN mount Outback Power Sys

$40

$160

4

Load panel, 100 amp, 240 V Various

$100

$400

Subtotal

$8,520

1

Inverter, Battery, 48 V Various

$1,800

$1,800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battery and Inverter Lab

1

Charge Controller/ MPPT Various

$575

$575

1

Meter, AC kWh Hialeah Meter

$50

$50

1

Meter, AC can Home Depot

$30

$30

1

Disconnect, AC Home Depot

$30

$30

1

Breakers , AC, 60 amp, SP Home Depot

$30

$30

1

Disconnect, DC, 30 amp, HU361 Affordable Solar

$175

$175

1

Box, DC, Combiner outback Outback Power Sys

$150

$150

2

Fuses, DC, KLKD-15 Outback Power Sys

$25

$50

2

Fuse holder, DC, 30 amp, DIN mount Outback Power Sys

$50

$100

4

Batteries, 12V Outback Power Sys

$150

$600

1

Load panel, 100 amp, 240 V Various

$100

$100

Subtotal

  $3,690

4

Roof mockup FSEC constructed

$600

$2,400

Inverter, I-V Curve and Array Mounting Lab

 

 

   

4

Mounting systems (racks, etc.) for PV Affordable Solar

$750

$3,000

   

4

2,000 Watt PV array ($1.30/watt) Affordable Solar

2,675

$10,700

Subtotal

$16,100

1

Solmetric PVA 600 IV Curve String Analyzer Solmetric

$3,200

$3,200

Inverter and I-V Curve Lab

 

 

 

 

 

5

Clamp, DC current, AEMC DC Newark Electronics

$200

$1,000

10

VOM meter, Fluke (x2) 115 Newark Electronics

$300

$3,000

5

Meter, Solar, Daystar Daystar, Inc.

$150

$750

5

IR Temp Gun, Fluke Newark Electronics

$100

$500

5

Wire wound resistor 25 Ohm, 1000W Various

$150

$750

Subtotal

  $9,200

1

Load tester Autometer $350

$350

 

Battery Demonstration Lab

 

 

 

1

Starting battery, lead acid Various $100

$100

1

Deep cycle battery Various $200

$200

1

Face shield Various $40

$40

1

Rubber gloves Various $25

$25

1

Safety apron Various $50

$50

2

Charge controllers Various $110

$220

Subtotal

     $975

4

 

Safety material and equipment (harness, life line, leash, eye protection, roof mounting bracket, safety video) Various $100

$400

 

Subtotal

     $400
  Work tools and materials (drill, screw drivers, torque wrench, bonding equipment, gloves, drill bits, socket sets, hammers, sealants) Various $2,000

$2,000

 

Subtotal

  $2,000

GRAND TOTALS

$20,325 $48,595

 

 

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