The Don Rowe Blog

May 5

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Power In The White House—Power Inverters, That Is!

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Yes, even the White House can boast of becoming ‘greener’ thanks to the installation of solar panels on its Pennsylvania Avenue location in August of 2013.  Long before President Obama took office, however, President Carter, in the late 1970’s, had 32 solar panels installed which were used, solely, to heat water.   Apparently, due to roof issues, President Ronald Raegan had those 32 panels removed in 1986.   Then, once George W. Bush was in office, he had a small solar heating system installed in 2003 which merely heated the White House swimming pool.   It begs the question:  Why no solar electric system for the ‘Presidential Palace’?

The updated and more-expansive solar panels installed recently at the White House are completely sustainable since they utilize light from the sun to produce electricity.   The real heroes, however, are the solar power Inverters which allow solar panels to do their job in the first place.   To make that point clear, the sun beats down on the solar panels and, in turn, the DC-generated electricity by the solar panels travels to solar power inverters which convert that DC electricity into useable AC electricity.   And, by the way, ‘DC’ refers to ‘direct current’, not to be confused with ‘District of Columbia’!

The AC electricity leaves the solar power inverters and travels to the White House’s electric grid; and is available whenever it’s needed.   It’s not known how much of the White House, per se, uses any of the solar panels’ generated electricity, though smaller buildings on the 16-acre layout most definitely utilize solar power.    The AC, or alternating current, that might  power gadgets or equipment for the First Family, is the same AC electricity that your home and mine use from local utility companies across the United States.

The Most Recent Solar Systems:

Three solar energy systems were installed on the White House grounds in 2013, and are generating renewable power and hot water as you read this.  One of the three systems incorporates a large 8.75 peak-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system which was installed on the National Park Service maintenance building on the sprawling White House grounds.   This system has 167 EC-51 PV modules, with each module rated at 51 watts.   Here’s where our heroes, the solar power inverters, enter the scene.  Three 2,500-watt inverters convert the DC electricity into useable AC power.

The second system involves a residential-scale solar water heating system which was installed on the same building so landscape maintenance crews would have access to hot water—cool!

The third system incorporates a five-panel, solar hot water system on the cabana next to the presidential pool and spa.  The hot water produced by this system heats a hot tub, a shower and an outdoor pool.

Climate activist, Bill McKibben, who helped organize one of the campaigns to install solar power at the White House, stated:  “It’s very good to know that, once again, the country’s most powerful address is drawing some of that power from the sun.”

And just for the record, the President’s dog, Bo, even has solar panels with embedded solar power inverters installed on his doghouse roof—well, why not!?  The more solar panels, the better—it’s just one dog-gone good idea all the way around!

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