Solar photovoltaic panels can be a low-maintenance way to generate electricity on farm, says Daniel Ciolkosz, agricultural engineer with Penn State Extension. Here are some things to consider when exploring a solar photovoltaic system:
• Where will you put it? The ideal location for a stationary photovoltaic array is a south-facing surface that is tilted at an angle equal to the latitude of your location.
• Will it stay in place? Most solar panels are lightweight, so you need to make sure they won’t blow away. However, have an experienced installer help you determine if your facility will be able to bear the additional weight of the panels.
• What about the wiring? The electricity generated by a photovoltaic panel is “Direct Current” (DC). You will need to change it to “Alternating Current” (AC) with a device called an “Inverter” before it can be fed into your farm’s power system. Install this equipment close to your solar panels and near the main distribution panel for your farm’s electrical system.
• Can you afford it? Examine the payoff for solar photovoltaic electricity. It depends on the future price of electricity as well as alternative energy credits.
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