Bright (Solar) Ideas, to Produce More Energy

Reprinted with permission by the  Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association:

In 2008 the founders of tenKsolar founded their company with an idea – the idea that they could design and build a better solar panel.  Identifying the problems with solar panels as they currently existed, they knew that they had better ideas for a design that would produce more energy, more safely, and with less cost – as the old saying goes, they could “build a better mouse trap.”

They have now launched their new line of RAISTM modules – which stands for redundant array of integrated solar – being built here in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The current design of most solar panels involves each one of the cells being wired/linked together in “Series,” which means that when one or several of the cells is blocked and not working, large areas of, if not all of, this portion of the solar panel fails to work and will not generate power.  [Remember when we were kids, the old strings of Christmas Tree lights, that when one of the lights went out, all of the lights went out?  Solar panels, when linked in Series, are almost that bad.]

tenKsolar’s RAISTM modules utilize a cell/matrix architecture design in their coupling and output, and one portion of a solar panel may be blocked, or fail, and the majority of the power will still be generated by that panel.  And each module can stand alone – generating power when other modules for whatever reason may not be operating.  The modules are designed so that they energy literally finds an alternative path, toward the output coupler.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has established an industry standard for the efficiency rating of solar panels, measured in “PV (photovoltaic) Watts.” NREL rates other currently available solar panels, as having generally a 77% to 82% efficiency rating, with only a 72% to 74% efficiency rating after 10 years of operation.  The tenKsolar panels are showing test results, due to the efficiency of their design, as having an initial efficiency of 91% to 92%, with an efficiency of approx. 87% even after ten years of operation.

Not only is the operating efficiency higher, but they also allow the use of reflected light to boost the efficiency even further.  Most solar panels only use direct sunlight, whereas when possible, mounting of highly reflective panels adjacent to a tenKsolar panel will add a significant amount to the total energy output.  And with tenKsolar panels, having the exact, optimal mounting angle of each solar panel (which is generally equal to the latitude at which the panels are installed – at 45 degrees latitude for us here in Minnesota) is not quite as important due to the fact that light can be reflected onto the panels when the optimal angle of installation is not possible.

Two other important features that tenKsolar has designed into their product offering:

—Product safety.  Each panel operates at 48 volts – a voltage that is much more safe for anyone that may come in contact with the panel.  Conventional panels operate at as much as 600 volts – a lethal dose of electricity if you came in contact inadvertently, while at only 48 volts, yes, you would get a slight shock, and it would sting (in many instances the body would not even feel a 48V shock), but there is far less chance that it would be a fatal dose.  Additional safety/hazard devices have also been included in tenKsolar’s modules.

—Lightweight.  tenKsolar panels are all made with an aluminum backplane insuring a good silicone seal which also keeps humidity out.  The installations are virtually all aluminum structures, which is far less costly and far less weight than steel.  This weight reduction means that many solar modules, and particularly large solar modules, will not over burden the weight bearing capacity of the structure that they are mounted on, and in most instances, the modules can be attached with no roof penetration (less opportunity for a roof to leak).  tenKsolar claims to have the lowest pounds per square foot (with the highest kWh rating) available today.

Bright ideas, designed into these new state-of-the-art solar panels, conceived and produced right here in Minnesota.

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing

AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting

Website:  www.ameristarmfg.com

Email:  BillR@ameristarmfg.com

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