Jan 16, 2015

Broken Solar Parking Meter

Polich_Solar_Blog_Parking_MeterIt's a tragic day for anyone in the solar community when you see a broken solar panel. This 10-watt solar panel powers a multi-space parking meter near Metro Center--it's a Parkeon Stelio to be exact. I'm not an expert, but it looks like it was done with a pickaxe. Typical.

This parking meter is a shadow of its former self in terms of watts. Although I don't know number, I could measure the panel by using a digital multimeter then multiplying amps by volts to get watts.

Panels are damaged by impacts, extreme weather and temperature, and regular degradation. My friends at the Solar Energy Industries Association claim that solar panels decrease in efficiency by 0.5% per year.

However, damaged and old panels can be reused. There are a lot of DIY videos on re-purposing solar cells: this and this for example. You can purchase old panels online for cheap.

As for the parking meter, DDOT claims that there are about "550 multi-space meters in the District, managing approximately 4,200 parking spaces". That's 5,500 watts of solar power--about 92 of your standard 60-watt light bulbs.

Finally, I've already posted about solar and parking twice before: Pesky Solar Parking Meters (11/19) and Giant Solar Parking Lot at FedEx Field (12/31). Obviously, there's a big intersection between parking and solar.


  1. This is a great blog. So informative. At times even thrilling. Do the panels require maintenance? Would it be possible to have a maintenance person shoot photos? (I'm sure you have already tried this.) Looking forward to the next entry. J

    1. As I get onto more and more rooftops, I'll ask around and look for examples. The panels do require maintenance. If there is dirt/bird poop/bad connection, their energy output goes down. You can measure performance with a Solar Charge Controller (tells you how all of the panels are doing) or a digital multimeter (you can measure one panel at a time). To clean the panels, you can use a mop to spread a soap/water mixture then squeegee it. If you don't feel safe doing that or are willing to spend more money, you can hire a professional.