Pitless Adapter Well Casing

Cable to Pump Controller

Pivot Weight Float Switch

Air Vent: Required if top of tank is sealed, particularly if tank is buried.

Inlet Pipe (optional): Feed water in at this level if you want the pipe from the well to drain when pump stops (to prevent pipe from freezing). Can enter top of tank.

Overflow Outlet: Drains excess water if float switch failsor if overflow is desired for irrigation.

Refresher Valve (optional): A slow leak (just below float switch on-level) will cause the pump to periodically refresh the water during times of low demand..

Main Shutoff Valve:

Normally open

Reserve Shutoff Valve

Normally closed Drain / Cleanout Valve:-Normally closed

Reserve Shutoff Valve

Normally closed Drain / Cleanout Valve:-Normally closed

Air Vent: Required if top of tank is sealed, particularly if tank is buried.

Inlet Pipe (optional): Feed water in at this level if you want the pipe from the well to drain when pump stops (to prevent pipe from freezing). Can enter top of tank.

Overflow Outlet: Drains excess water if float switch failsor if overflow is desired for irrigation.

Refresher Valve (optional): A slow leak (just below float switch on-level) will cause the pump to periodically refresh the water during times of low demand..

Main Shutoff Valve:

Normally open

Well Pump Discharge Pipe

Pitless Adapter Well Casing

Inlet/Outlet Pipe:

One pipe can serve for both water in and out of the tank.

To Water Distribution or Booster Pump System

Adapted from the SunRise pump manual.

required for the pump to run directly from their solar array (without battery connection).

The SunRise controller provides a starting surge, then sets the solar array configuration for varying light conditions. It also disconnects power to the pump during insufficient light conditions. The controller requires two separate 24 Volt array inputs, so the solar array must be split into two "sub-arrays". It connects these into either a series (48 V) or parallel (24 V) configuration. In full sun, the pump gets 48 V to produce full motor speed and water flow. In cloudy weather or when the sun is low on the horizon, the controller switches the configuration to 24 V. This doubles the current to prevent the pump from stalling. It is the electrical equivalent of shifting from high to low gear, so that the pump continues to run in low light conditions.

The Float Switch

The float switch that we used looks like a plastic can on the end of a flexible electrical cord. The can floats. The cord is suspended from the top of the tank, and a weight is tied to the cord to act as a pivot point. The float swings up and down with the varying water level in the tank. The float contains a switch that turns on when the can hangs downward, and turns off when it floats back up.

A float switch was already installed in the tank. It was put there to turn the AC pump off when the tank reached full level. Most switches can handle DC as well as AC, so we rewired it to control our array transfer instead.

The Transfer Relay

The device used to transfer the solar power between the house and the pump is called a relay. A relay is an electrical switch that is actuated by an electromagnetic coil, instead of your finger (the coil uses very little power). When power is applied to the coil, it magnetizes and attracts a hinged piece of steel on which switch contacts are mounted. In our application, the coil is turned on and off by the float switch in the storage tank, just as a light in your home is controlled by a switch on the wall. The relay that we selected has four sets of switch contacts that work simultaneously. So, one simple circuit through the float switch works four transfer switches. The diagram shows this relay schematically as four switches, with a dotted line to symbolize their actuation by a coil. The transfer relay was preassembled in an outdoor junction box at Dankoff Solar.

Having it Both Ways

When the float switch hangs low in the tank, the circuit is closed and 24 V is connected to the relay coil. The relay then transfers power from the home electric system to the pump system. When the float switch rises, indicating a full tank, the circuit is opened. With no power to the relay coil, the relay transfers the array back to charging the batteries in the house. It's simple, and no burden to the owner. Here is how we accomplished this amazing feat.

Rewiring the Array

The PV array originally had its 24 V outputs joined to #2 AWG wires, which run 150 feet to the charge controller in the house. First we split the array wiring to create two sub-arrays of four modules each. One sub-array remains connected to the house, while the other will alternately be switched to the pump or the house by the relay. The sub-array to be used for the pump requires two 24 Volt panel pairs to feed the SunRise controller, so we split it yet again, and wired its two separate halves to the transfer relay. All this can get confusing, so we used a multimeter to check polarity and to verify the right voltage. Sure enough, each pair of array wires showed nearly 40 volts, which is normal for a nominal 24 V PV array in an open-circuit condition (disconnected from a load).

To supply power to the relay coil circuit we used an existing 24 Volt DC line that runs from the house to the nearby generator room. (We could have drawn power directly from the array instead, with the addition of a small capacitor to prevent the relay from chattering as the pump starts.) We also added a small 3-position toggle switch to let the owners override the automatic

Below: Disassembly is easy, though rarely needed.

Above: Just add PV & Well, the SunRise before Installation.

Above: Just add PV & Well, the SunRise before Installation.

operation. The switch allows selection of (1) automatic control via the float switch, (2) pump off, and (3) pump on. Position 2 will be used if the house batteries are low and home energy is a priority. Position 3 will allow the water tank to overflow. Paul and Stephanie installed an overflow pipe from the top of their tank that will be directed to some trees and shrubs. This manual override switch is also handy for testing the system.

Removing the AC Pump

The next task was to remove the original AC pump from the well. A water well contractor was hired to pull the pump from its 390 foot setting. The well man also verified the static water level of the well at 165 feet. The AC pump and its 1 1/4 inch PVC drop pipe can now be sold for about $800.

Reusing the Original Pump Wiring

The SunRise system requires wire of sufficient size, or it won't work. We were happy to discover that we could reuse the existing buried wire and drop cable from the generator shed (near the PV array) to the well and down. The existing wire is buried for 250 feet from the generator shed to the well head. With a pump depth of 250 feet, we were looking at a total run of 500 feet.

The SunRise specification sheet has a wire sizing chart based on the power draw of the pump and the distance of the wire run. Stephanie and Paul's' pump will draw 230 watts at 250 Feet of lift. The chart indicated that in this application, we needed a minimum size of #8 AWG wire. The existing buried wire is #10 AWG (one size smaller than #8 AWG) but it has four conductors, and we needed just two. Rather than replace it, we paired up the four wires into two parallel conductors. That is like having two wires that are bigger than #8. The drop cable that runs down the well has four #8 wires which we again paralleled, to make a two-wire line that was better than #6. Overall, we saved about $500, plus the work of trenching new wire.

Installing the SunRise Pump

Well pump installation is usually a job for a water well contractor with a boom truck. However, the SunRise pump uses smaller, 3/4 inch drop pipe. The pipe is flexible black thick-walled polyethylene (PE) rather than PVC. This keeps the assembly light in weight and easy to lower into the well by hand. Incidentally, PE pipe is more chemically pure than PVC, which is being phased out in Europe. The SunRise instruction manual is thorough and well illustrated, for both hand and machine installation. Although we (David and Paul) had no prior experience installing a well pump, we had no problems.

We unrolled our 250 feet of PE pipe and safety rope alongside the submersible cable, and bound them together with cable ties. We connected the SunRise pump to the drop pipe with massive bronze compression fittings made for the thick PE pipe, and spliced the pump wires to the cable using a submersible splice kit. At the top end of the drop pipe we attached one half of the pitless adapter (see glossary) that was used in the original AC pump installation. We were ready to lower the pump.

To lower the pump safely by hand, the SunRise instructions call for one strong person per 100 feet of drop. A neighbor came by to help with the installation, and Stephanie helped drag the bundle of pipe and cable so it didn't get caught on bushes. Indeed, it gets quite heavy as it goes down. After recoupling the pitless adapter, the last step was to tie the safety rope to an eye bolt that we had installed in the well casing.


We throw the switch. After waiting two minutes for the controller's starting capacitor to charge up, we hear a faint hum at the wellhead. The hum drops in pitch as water rises up the pipe. Minutes later, water issues from the hose. We feel "pumped!" With a hands-on sense of how far down the water lies under this desert plateau, solar pumping seems like modern magic.

All of the on-site work was performed in about eight hours. This included watching the existing AC pump being pulled by the water well contractor, installing the transfer relay, rewiring the array through it, installing the SunRise pump by hand, and earning a good redneck sunburn.

The water tank needed about 500 gallons to reach full. The next day, at mid-morning, the float switch had risen and disconnected the pump from the array as expected. We checked the meter in the house, and sure enough the charge current indicated that the entire array was now reconnected to the house. Since then, the pump has been coming on about 3 times every two weeks, for about 3 hours each time. Stephanie and Paul are liberated. Their generator collects cobwebs while solar power pumps their water and powers their home.

Glossary of Solar Water Pumping Terms

AC - Alternating Current, the standard form of electrical current supplied by the utility grid and by most fuel-powered generators. The polarity (and therefore the direction of current) alternates. In the U.S.A., standard voltages for small water pumps are 115 volt and 230 volt. Standards vary in different countries. See Inverter.

Booster Pump - A surface pump used to increase pressure in a water line, or to pull from a storage tank and pressurize a water system. See Surface Pump.

Borehole - Synonym for water well, especially outside of North America.

Cable Splice - A joint in electrical cable. A submersible splice must be made using special materials available in kit form.

Casing - Plastic or steel tube that is permanently inserted in the well after drilling. Its size is specified according to its inside diameter.

Centrifugal Pump - A pumping mechanism that spins water by means of an "impeller." Water is pushed out by centrifugal force. See also Multi-Stage.

Check Valve - A valve that allows water to flow one way but not the other.

Converter - An electronic device for DC power that steps up voltage and steps down current proportionally (or vice-versa). Electrical analogy applied to ac: see Transformer. Mechanical analogy: gears or belt drive.

Current - The rate at which electricity flows through a circuit to transfer energy. Measured in amperes, commonly called amps. Analogy: flow rate in a water pipe.

Cut-In Pressure, Cut-Out Pressure - See Pressure Switch.

DC - Direct Current, the type of power produced by photovoltaic panels and by storage batteries. The current flows in one direction and polarity is fixed, defined as positive (+) and negative (-). Nominal system voltage may be anywhere from 12 to 180 Volts. See Voltage, Nominal.

DC Motor, Brush-Type - The traditional DC motor, in which small carbon blocks called "brushes" conduct current into the spinning portion of the motor. They are used in DC surface pumps and also in DC submersible diaphragm pumps. Brushes naturally wear down after years of use, and may be easily replaced.

DC Motor, Brushless - High-technology motor used in centrifugal-type DC submersibles. The motor is filled with oil to keep water out. An electronic system is used to precisely alternate the current, causing the motor to spin.

DC Motor, Permanent Magnet - All DC solar pumps use this type of motor in some form. A variable speed motor by nature, reduced voltage (in low sun) produces proportionally reduced speed, and causes no harm to the motor. Contrast: Induction Motor.

Diaphragm Pump - A type of pump in which water is drawn in and forced out of one or more chambers, by a flexible diaphragm. Check valves let water into and out of each chamber.

Drawdown - Lowering of level of water in a well due to pumping.

Driller's Log - The written form on which well characteristics are recorded by the well driller. In many states, it is a legal requirement to register all water wells and to send a copy of the log to a state office. This supplies hydrological data and well performance test results to the public and to the well owner.

Drop Pipe - The pipe that carries water from a pump in a well up to the surface.

Efficiency - The percentage of power that gets converted to useful work. Example: an electric pump that is 60% efficient converts 60% of the input energy into work - pumping water. The remaining 40% becomes waste heat.

Energy - The product of power and time, measured in watt-hours. 1000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour (abbreviation: kWh). Variation: the product of current and time is ampere-hours, also called amp-hours (abbreviation: Ah). 1000 watts consumed for 1 hour = 1 kWh. See Power.

Foot Valve - A check valve placed in the water source below a surface pump. It prevents water from flowing back down the pipe and "losing prime." See Check Valve and Priming.

Friction Loss - The loss of pressure due to flow of water in pipe. This is determined by 3 factors: pipe size (inside diameter), flow rate, and length of pipe. It is determined by consulting a friction loss chart available in an engineering reference book or from a pipe supplier. It is expressed in PSI or Feet (equivalent additional feet of pumping).

Gravity Flow - The use of gravity to produce pressure and water flow. A storage tank is elevated above the point of use so that water will flow with no further pumping required. A booster pump may be used to increase pressure. 2.3 Vertical Feet = 1 PSI. See Pressure.

Head - See Vertical Lift and Total Dynamic Head. In water distribution, synonym: vertical drop.

Impeller - See Centrifugal Pump.

Induction Motor (ac) - The type of electric motor used in conventional ac water pumps. It requires a high surge of current to start and a stable voltage supply, making it a challenge to run from a solar power system. See Inverter.

Inverter - An electronic device that converts DC to high voltage ac power. In solar-electric systems, an inverter may take the 12, 24, 48 or other DC voltage and convert it to 115 or 230 volts ac, conventional household power.

Jet Pump - A surface-mounted centrifugal pump that uses an "ejector" (venturi) device to augment its suction capacity. In a "deep well jet pump," the ejector is down in the well to assist the pump in overcoming the limitations of suction (some water is diverted back down the well). Jet pumps are NOT energy-efficient.

Linear Current Booster - See Pump Controller. Note: Although this term has become generic, its abbreviation "LCB" is a trademark of Bobier Electronics.

Multi-Stage Centrifugal - A centrifugal pump with more than one impeller and chamber, stacked in a sequence to produce higher pressure. Conventional ac deep well submersible pumps and higher power solar submersibles work this way.

Open Discharge - The filling of a water vessel that is not sealed to hold pressure. Examples: storage (holding) tank, pond, flood irrigation. Contrast: Pressure Tank.

Perforations - Slits cut into the well casing to allow groundwater to enter. May be located at more than one level to coincide with water-bearing strata.

Photovoltaic - The phenomenon of converting light to electric power. Photo = light, volt = electricity. Abbreviation: PV.

Pitless Adapter - A special pipe fitting that fits on a well casing below ground. It allows the pipe to pass horizontally through the casing so that no pipe is exposed above ground where it could freeze. The pump may be installed and removed without further need to dig around the casing by using a 1 inch threaded pipe as a handle.

Positive Displacement Pump - A mechanism that seals water in a chamber, then forces it out by reducing the volume of the chamber. Examples: piston (including jack), diaphragm, and rotary vane. Used for low volume and high lift. Contrast with Centrifugal. Synonyms: volumetric pump, force pump.

Power - The rate at which work is done. It is the product of voltage times current, measured in watts. 1000 watts = 1 kilowatt. An electric motor requires approximately 1 kilowatt per horsepower (after typical efficiency losses). 1 kilowatt for 1 hour = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Pressure - The amount of force applied by water that is either forced by a pump or by the gravity. Measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). PSI = vertical lift (or drop) in Feet / 2.31.

Pressure Switch - An electrical switch actuated by the pressure in a pressure tank. When the pressure drops to a low set-point (cut-in) it turns a pump on. At a high point (cut-out) it turns the pump off.

Pressure Tank - A fully enclosed tank with an air space inside. As water is forced in, the air compresses. The stored water may be released after the pump has stopped. Most pressure tanks contain a rubber bladder to capture the air. If so, synonym: captive air tank.

Pressure Tank Precharge - The pressure of compressed air stored in a captive air pressure tank. A reading should be taken with an air pressure gauge (tire gauge) with water pressure at zero. The air pressure is then adjusted to about 3 PSI lower than the cut-in pressure (see Pressure Switch). If precharge is not set properly, the tank will not work to full capacity, and the pump will cycle on and off more frequently.

Priming - The process of hand-filling the suction pipe and intake of a surface pump. Priming is generally necessary when a pump must be located above the water source. A "self-priming" pump is able to draw some air suction in order to prime itself, at least in theory. See Foot Valve.

Pulsation Damper - A device that absorbs and releases pulsations in flow produced by a piston or diaphragm pump. Consists of a chamber with air trapped within it.

Pump Controller - An electronic device which varies the voltage and current of a PV array to match the needs of an array-direct pump. It allows the pump to start and run under low sun conditions without stalling.

Electrical analogy: variable transformer. Mechanical analogy: automatic transmission. See Linear Current Booster.

Pump Jack - A deep well piston pump. The piston and cylinder is submerged in the well water and actuated by a rod inside the drop pipe, powered by a motor at the surface. This is an old-fashioned system still used for extremely deep wells, including solar pumps as deep as 1000 feet.

PV - The common abbreviation for photovoltaic.

PV Array - A group of PV (photovoltaic) modules (also called panels) arranged to produce the voltage and power desired.

PV Array-Direct - The use of electric power directly from a photovoltaic array, without storage batteries to store or stabilize it. Most solar water pumps work this way, utilizing a tank to store water.

PV Cell - The individual photovoltaic device. The most common PV modules are made with 33 to 36 silicon cells each producing 1/2 Volt.

PV Module - An assembly of PV cells framed into a weatherproof unit. Commonly called a "PV panel". See PV Array.

Recovery Rate - Rate at which groundwater refills the casing after the level is drawn down. This is the term used to specify the production rate of the well.

Safety Rope - Plastic rope used to suspend the pump, primarily in case of pipe breakage.

Sealed Piston Pump - See Positive Displacement Pump. A type of pump recently developed for solar submersibles. The pistons have a very short stroke, allowing the use of flexible gaskets to seal water out of an oil filled mechanism.

Solar Tracker - A mounting rack for a PV array that automatically tilts to follow the daily path of the sun through the sky. A "tracking array" will produce more energy through the course of the day than a "fixed array" (non-tracking), particularly during the long days of summer.

Static Water Level - Depth to the water surface in a well under static conditions (not being pumped). May be subject to seasonal changes or lowering due to depletion.

Submergence - Applied to submersible pumps: distance beneath the static water level at which a pump is set. Synonym: immersion level.

Submersible Cable - Electrical cable designed for inwell submersion. Size (in USA) is specified by American

Wire Gauge (AWG), in which a higher number indicates smaller wire. The specification "two-wire plus ground" indicates three wires (conductors) in the cable. It is connected to a pump by splicing.

Self-Priming Pump - See Priming.

Submersible Pump - A motor/pump combination designed to be placed entirely below the water surface.

Suction Lift - Applied to surface pumps: vertical distance from the surface of water in the source to a pump located above. This distance is limited by physics to around 20 feet at sea level (subtract 1 ft. per 1000 ft. altitude) and should be minimized for best results.

Surface Pump - A pump that is not submersible. It must be placed no more than about 20 above the surface of the water in the well. See Priming. (Exception: see Jet Pump).

Total Dynamic Head - Vertical lift + friction loss in piping (see Friction Loss).

Transformer - An electrical device that steps up voltage and steps down current proportionally (or viceversa). Transformers work with ac only. For DC, see Converter. Mechanical analogy: gears or belt drive.

Utility Grid - Commercial electric power distribution system. Synonym: Mains.

Vane Pump - (Rotary Vane) A positive displacement mechanism used in low volume high lift surface pumps and booster pumps. Durable and efficient, but requires cleanly filtered water due to its mechanical precision.

Vertical Lift - The vertical distance that water is pumped. This determines the pressure that the pump pushes against. Total vertical lift = vertical lift from surface of water source up to the discharge in the tank + (in a pressure system) discharge pressure. Synonym: static head. Note: horizontal distance does NOT add to the vertical lift, except in terms of pipe friction loss, nor does the volume (weight) of water contained in pipe or tank. Submergence of the pump does NOT add to the vertical lift in the case of a centrifugal type pump. In the case of a positive displacement pump it may add to the lift somewhat.

Voltage - The measurement of electrical potential. Analogy: pressure in a water pipe.

Voltage Drop - Loss of voltage (electrical pressure) caused by the resistance in wire and electrical devices. Proper wire sizing will minimize voltage drop, particularly over long distances. Voltage drop is determined by 4 factors: wire size, current (amps), voltage, and length of wire. It is determined by consulting a wire sizing chart or formula available in various references. It is expressed as a percentage. Water analogy: friction loss in pipe.

Voltage, Nominal - Away of naming a range of voltage to a standard. Example: A "12 Volt nominal" system may operate in the range of 11 to 15 Volts. We call it "12 Volts" for simplicity.

Voltage, Open Circuit - The voltage of a PV module or array with no load (when it is disconnected). A "12 Volt nominal" PV module will produce about 20 Volts open circuit. Abbreviation: Voc.

Voltage, Peak Power Point - The voltage at which a photovoltaic module or array transfers the greatest amount of power (watts). A "12 Volt nominal" PV module will typically have a peak power voltage of around 17 Volts. A PV array-direct solar pump should reach this voltage in full sun conditions. In a higher voltage array, it will be a multiple of this voltage. Abbreviation: Vpp.

Well Seal - Top plate of well casing that provides a sanitary seal and support for the drop pipe and pump. Alternative: see Pitless Adapter.

Wellhead - Top of the well at ground level.


Authors: Windy Dankoff & David Mattes, Dankoff Solar Products, 1807 Second St. Unit #55, Santa Fe, NM 87505 • phone: 505-820-6611 FAX: 505-820-3160 E-mail: [email protected]

Video: Renewable Energy with the Experts series: Solar Water Pumping. Covers the fundamentals of solar powered water lift and pressurizing, and documents the installation of a SunRise pump. 1 Hour, available from Producer: Scott Andrews, PO Box 3027, Sausalito, CA 94965, or Dankoff Solar Products. >«*?<


Richard J. Komp

©1997 Richard J. Komp

Nicaraguans are extremely interested in using photovoltaic systems. That's the first thing I noticed when I started working on photo-voltaics at the Universidad National de Ingieneria (UNI) in Managua. I have just returned from a successful two month trip to Nicaragua. To give a few of the highlights, there is a new company now manufacturing 20 Watt PV modules in Nicaragua, local people in the barrio where I stayed asked me to teach a solar box cooker workshop they had organized, we had three well-attended solar battery charger workshops, and I lost almost twenty pounds.

Below: UNI professor Susan Kinne and students test open circuit voltage on the panel they made.

Above: Dr. Komp and electrical engineering students from UNI

Above: Dr. Komp and electrical engineering students from UNI

The main purpose of the trip was to teach a group of engineering students about photovoltaics and give them as much practical, hands-on experience as possible in the 60 day visit. This was my first trip to Latin America and I had not studied Spanish before starting out. I spent a couple of weeks at a friend's home in Florida learning some basic Spanish before heading for Nicaragua. Fortunately, my host at UNI, Susan Kinne, is originally from Cincinnati and is bilingual (actually trilingual, since her first degree is in German literature). She had already scheduled a series of three public lectures on solar cells. These lectures were a complete success with her translating my English lecture. The attendance was so great that we moved to the biggest lecture hall at the University. I discovered that there already is an active photovoltaics market in Nicaragua using modules and other components imported from the US or Europe. All the people involved in this business showed up at the lectures, and half of them are former engineering students of Susan's.

We also scheduled a set of hands-on workshops where the participants assembled small 2 Volt solar battery charger modules. These are similar to the set of workshops that the Maine Solar Energy Association has organized at the local schools here in Maine. I taught the first workshop with the help of the electrical engineering group (called Fenix). For the next workshop a few weeks later, I only give the lecture while the Fenix group did the hands-on part of the workshop. For the final workshop I stayed in the

Above: Soldering cell inteconnects.

background while the students taught the entire workshop

Once we started to assemble the 20 Watt modules we arranged an installation workshop, mounting one of the first modules on the roof of Susan's home. We also worked with one of her former students, in charge of casting the lead plates at Nicaragua's only battery plant, to start manufacturing a deep cycle lead acid battery for solar electric storage. The first prototype solar electric battery made in Central America is now being tested at this installation. I also worked with three of the students to construct prototype charge controllers, 12 Volt electronic ballasts, and even an inverter. The idea is to make as much of the system as possible inside the country.

There are a number of photovoltaic systems in Nicaragua that had been installed by volunteers from non-profit groups. Many of these have fallen into disrepair or had been dismantled by the local people who were never adequately trained in their use. We contacted several non-profit groups, which included Terrasol in the US and a couple of German NGOs (where Susan's command of German came in handy). We proposed that the Fenix group see to the


by the Fenix group, original translation by Susan Kinne

SUNI is a small business which is coming into being at this very moment. It stemmed from an already productive collaboration between the Nicaraguan National Engineering University and Sunwatt, of the U.S.A.

SUNI is a concrete response to a screaming need in the development of Nicaragua. About a year ago a group of faculty and senior students began doing research into renewable energy to develop that field in the Electrical Engineering Department and to prepare themselves for productive work in an area that the country desperately needs. The group calls themselves Phoenix (Fenix, in Spanish).

The sun is such an obvious resource in Nicaragua, but price is an inhibitive factor in the exploitation of photovoltaics. One of the goals they set for themselves was to construct photovoltaic panels in Nicaragua. They were fortunate to incorporate the assistance of Dr. Richard Komp, a photovoltaics specialist and designer, manufacturer, and promoter of solar panels.

After the successful construction of six prototypes, the group is now producing 15 more 20 Watt panels. The orders are coming in from NGO's who are interested in small scale electrical generation in remote locations. We just sent out a price estimate for 100 5 Watt panels and are researching materials for frequently requested 60 Watt panels.

A pre-thesis graduate student working in production in the battery factory is developing a prototype for a deep cycle battery designed for photovoltaic systems. Another young engineer is constructing a prototype of a charge controller. In other words, we are well on the road to being able to have locally manufactured, economically accessible, support devices as well as the panel itself. By the way, this is not re-inventing the wheel, but rather adapting to local circumstances. It is also being done in India and working well.

We welcome you to come see our operation at the university and to ask any questions you may have.


Susan Kinne , Electrical Engineering Department National Engineering University • Telcor Central Box #5595 • Managua, Nicaragua • 505-267-0275 ext. 335 • Fax: 505-278-1461 E-Mail: [email protected]


Above: Laying down traces.

refurbishing and maintenance of these PV systems. This led to several field trips to marvelous places like the Pacific Coast and the mountainous central part of the country. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before we got to the rainforest, but that's a trip for another time.

On the Terrasol field trip, the Fenix group arranged to give a photovoltaic installation workshop. This was totally their idea, and will result in Nicaraguans teaching solar energy to US Peace Corps workers. I hope I have started something.

UNI hosted a large, all day conference on solar energy a week before I left. We arranged for many of the solar practitioners to give sessions on all aspects of solar. The morning sessions were devoted to solar thermal processes while in the afternoon we discussed designing and installing photovoltaic systems. The Fenix group translated the relevant parts of the Maine Solar Primer into Spanish as a handout for the morning session and prepared an introduction to the solar electric home (also in Spanish) for the afternoon handout. These were given free with the registration fee of 50 Cordobas (about $5.30) for the whole day. We had working solar devices in the plaza in front of the meeting place and used the solar ovens we made at earlier workshops to cook soup for about 25 volunteers and others. The total attendance of 76 paid for all the expenses and left enough in the Fenix treasury for seed money for future events. One of the concepts we stressed is that of sustainability, financial as well as cultural and environmental, and I hope to have succeeded.


Richard J. Komp, President, Maine Solar Energy Association • RR 1 Box 7751 • Jonesport ME 04649 207-497-2204 • E-Mail: [email protected] ,

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