Mar 23, 2015

Solar Church #3: Western Presbyterian in Foggy Bottom

Location: 2401 Virginia Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20037, USA
Top: Lay Leader, Betsy Carter inspecting the panels
Bottom left: 9 panels as I look west
Bottom right: Looking south over the church
Solar church #3 is Western Presbyterian church in Foggy Bottom. The church installed 69 250-watt panels in the summer of 2011. Lay leader Betsy Carter was kind enough to take me up to view the array.

Like five other sites I've been to, Solar Solutions was behind this project. Solar Solutions used SolarDocks, the same support structure as they did at the Argyle Condos and Church of the Reformation. The SolarDock is a "lightweight solar module mounting system combines a high-tilt angle of up to 35ยบ with [...] non-penetrating design" that's manufactured in Wilmington, DE (SolarDock.com).

As I studied the panels, I noticed four of them were cracked. Mechanical stresses could happen during delivery, shifts in support system, or teenagers throwing rocks. Cracked panels can affect performance and it's a big part of maintenance costs for installers. Solar Business has an interesting report on the different types of cracks--7 to be exact--you might see and how they affect performance. 

Finally, there was a lot of concern about my safety and who I really represented. I generally lead with "Hi, my name is Andrew Polich and I run a blog about solar projects in DC. I'd like to up to your roof to take some photos of your solar panels". Is that coming across too strong? I've found that it helps when I say I have a normal 9-5 job and graduated from college.