When you are handed a Lemon,

Make Lemonade

All of the pipe laid for the sign power was stubbed up in the wrong location. In each case it presented an obstacle and a safety problem for passengers. And just to top it off, there was no power on site of the correct voltage which met the requirements of the Sign power supplies.

The Alternatives

1: Dig it up and move it , We got bids from the Contractor and they were very high over $20,000

2: Adapt some custom structure or pedestal over the pipe to route it to the correct location.

It could be done but in most cases it would require moving the benches and changing the passenger seating plan, The trip hazard would still be there and the power would be a vandal target. Also we would have to add transformers and associated disconnects to meet Voltage requirements.

3: Lemonade Yes ! let's go Solar! We asked for a quote from DRI , $11,000 .. Enrique "Well that's not too bad.".. Dan from DRI Sales  "No that's our price for each system and you need four systems. " $44,000 step right up sign here....

Well I spent many years working on systems like this at the  Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Let me design a system which will be better and cost less. OK Enrique give it a shot.

We needed Luck and we got it. The roof pitch and orientation of the shelter were perfect for Solar power.

My Process .

What are the requirements? 

1: How many watts will this sign consume? On average? On a good day on a bad day?  How many bad days can we expect in a row at the worst time of the year? The worst part of the year is the month from Dec 7 to January 7.   Least amount of Sunlight and most cloud cover.

2: Where is this installation physically located? Is it a secure location is there any surveillance? Are there recent reports of theft or vandalism in the area? A: the entire solar array at the local public swimming pool was stolen a few weeks before I began designing this array.

3: What are the esthetic constraints? Who will approve the design?


Take some photographs.

Locate correct Solar arrays get dimensions and Photoshop them into the actual photos.

Present Photos to all concerned agencies for approval.

Looks great , lets price it out.

Each array kit with panels and all most needed parts under $2,100 each system. Times 4 and we are at $8400.00 way less than the other quote of $44,000

Find a qualified installer. and get a quote ... About $2300.00 each system including installation and we are at $9,200. Add that to the materials cost and we are still under the Dig it up cost. Dig it up cost $20,0000 and Solar complete and installed $18,400 ... Even with my effort and engineering costs we are still under the Dig It up costs.


Solar power in Public places.


The Challenges

1: Theft
Solution : Use panels which are adhesive backed and cannot be re used, No metals with recycle value.
2: Vandalism
Solution: Use impact resistant panels without the typical glass / crystal surfaces
3: Cost
We got bids from the other guys for $11,000 per system installed we needed Four systems. I got the systems for $2100.00 each and had them installed for $2500.00.
other guys installed price $44,000.00
Our Installed price $18,400.00
Solution: Competitive bidding and agressive pricing.
 The Solution We designed a system using materials which are vandal and theft resistant. At a 40% lower cost than other bids.