Oxford, Maine - Solar Tracker

20 solar electric panels make up this grid tied dual-axis solar tracker installed for Fairwinds Farm in Oxford, Maine. The first AllSun tracker in Maine!

Strawberry pickers at Fairwinds Farm in Oxford, Maine, this late June were greeted with more than just beautiful summer weather and luscious berries: they had an opportunity to watch the installation of Maine’s first AllSun Solar Tracker!

The tracker is a Series-20, meaning it has 20x 240 watt solar electric panels, for a nameplate production rating of 4.8KW. The dual-axis tracker has a motor driven by GPS so that it follows the sun east-to-west and up-and-down to always capture the most solar resource available.

The tracker will produce roughly 26% more power than a fixed-array of the same production capacity, and, in this case, is estimated to produce 8,558 kWh per year – more than $1,300 worth of electricity! The system will produce 100% of the Farm’s current electric ‘plug’ loads, and is sized to offset electric usage from a new electric water heater and the addition of an electric car (a 1974 restored VW Sun Buggy – more on that in a moment!).

The Lewiston Sun Journal spoke a bit about the project:

“We’re trying to be environmentally responsible,” said [farm owner Dave] Knightly, a Spanish teacher at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. He operates a strawberry picking business with his wife and children, Liz and Benji, during the summer.

The solar power will replace the oil-powered hot-water heater and back up the wood stove heat in the house, Knightly said. He has a vegetable-oil-fueled Mercedes and is working on a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle that will run on electricity.

About that 1974 Volkswagen Beetle – Knightly has been restoring VWs for years and when he got wind that there were electric vehicle conversion kits available for a vehicle named the “Sun Buggy,” he knew what he had to do.

“I drive 4 miles to work each day at the High School, so it doesn’t make any sense to be driving a gasoline-powered vehicle,” Knightly said. “Now we have enough solar power to produce 100% of our electric bill plus the electric car. With everything about oil being so uncertain, this gives us huge confidence for the future. We’re paying into it now, so we can save a bunch of money later.”

For Fairwinds Farm, which already has a veggie-oil powered Mercedes, low-spray techniques for their berries and biodegradeable cups at their lemonade stand, the solar represents the next level of environmental responsibility. “It’s just another piece of the puzzle,” Knightly added. “Customers come and see the solar array and think: hey, I can do this too.”

Come out to Oxford and pick some strawberries and see the tracker! Some more info on the farm at: http://www.koddler.com/destination.aspx/me/oxford/fairwinds-farm

More Photos of this Project

From our Residential Solar Photo Gallery:

[zenphotopress album=498 number=30]

For more installations, see our Solar Projects Map