May 1, 2015

Solar Traffic Counter at Gettysburg Battlefield

Location: Hancock Avenue, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA
Traffic counter with NY and MA Regiments
Monuments in the background
On April 11. I was touring Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania and came across a lone solar panel.

The panel is along Hancock Avenue (named for Major General Winfield Scott Hancock) just north of the giant State of Pennsylvania Monument and just south of Pickett's Charge (aka the high-water mark of the Confederacy or the South's best chance at victory). Needless to say, solar power has made itself onto some pretty significant ground.

The use of the panel was tough to determine so I emailed the National Park Service (NPS). They explained that it's used to power the NPS's traffic counter. The counter functions 24/7 and provides NPS with monthly reports on Visitor Use Statistics. Gettysburg sees 3 million visitors a year (4 million for the 150th anniversary in 2013) and many of these visitors do driving tours (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). That's an average of over 8,000 visitors per day so NPS has to be on top of the ebb and flow of visitors. On a nice day, the park could easily get bottle-necked.

I went up to the panel and to take some photos and looked for more information on the back side. I learned that it's a 10 watt panel from Solartech Power, Inc based just east of Los Angeles. Solartech manufactures the panels but wasn't able to provide any additional information on the installation of the panel.

Solar and historic areas are a perfect mix. Historic areas need monitoring, communication, and sometimes lighting equipment without all of the cables and conduits.