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Client Information
Redwood Coast Montessori(RCM) is a public charter school located next to the
Manilla Sand Dunes in Arcata, CA. Founded in 2005, the program started out with
one classroom on a traditional public school campus in Eureka, CA. In June 2012,
the Arcata School District approved Redwood Coast Montessoris charter application
to become a K-8 independent public charter school beginning on July 1, 2013
(RedwoodCoastMontessori.org, 2014). The school is now looking to expand with
multiple projects being worked on. Addition of a room for the community center and a
solar project, being worked on by students from Humboldt State University(HSU)
Engineering Department, are currently underway.
Montessori Education
Montessori education debuted in
1907 with Maria Montessoris first
school, the Casa dei Bambini,
which was part of an urban
renewal project in a low-income
district of Rome, Italy (History of
Montessori Education, 2013). Over
100 montessori schools were
operating in the United States by
1916. Montessori classrooms use
strategies such as creating groups
of students from different ages,
making students work in uninterrupted blocks of time, and giving them some options
of work to choose from. The goal of Montessori teachers is to raise studentindependence, give the students freedom while still having limits, and give students
a sense of order (History of Montessori Education). The Montessori style of
teaching acknowledges that children in early childhood
need to develop their cognitive abilities through
experiences with their sense and different materials.
As they grow, Montessori students at an elementary
age apply what they have learned to real world
experiences (History of Montessori Education).

Redwood Coast Montessori is located on a small
peninsula in Northern California, perpendicular to the
prevailing winds and with an average rainfall of 40-45
inches. The average wind speed in Manila is about 12
mph. (National Weather Service, 2013).
The average temperature for Manila is 53.9 F and the
average annual rainfall is 63.73 inches. The annual

average humidity is 84.6% and the average wind speed is 11.73 mph (Manila, CA
Manila Dune Ecosystem
The ecosystem surrounding Redwood Coast Montessori is one of the most unique in
the world, as coastal development continues to encroach upon dune
ecosystems(Friends of the Dunes, 2013). Dunes are formed by seasonal storms and
winds. In the winter, storms flood nearby rivers and carry sand to the ocean. This
sand is brought to the beaches by currents, and carried along by prevailing winds
from the northwest in the summer. The hollows and swells that form migrate
constantly over the low landscape. Plants that can survive the sand and winds help
shape and build the dunes (Friends of the Dunes, 2013)



The Manila Community Center is located in Manila, California. Manila, California is

located about 10 minutes
North of Eureka along the
coast of California. The
community center is
located at the edge of the
coastal dunes. This is a
rare ecosystem because
of high ocean-side
development. However,
the sand can have some
negative effects for
humans. Sand
encroachment is
sometimes an issue
when winds blow the
sand onto land that has been developed by humans. Sand can cover everything
depending on the intensity (Berte).



In Eureka, California, which is the closest city to Manila, 5.2% of people experience
theft and this happens about 1,430 times in a year (Crime Rates for Eureka, CA).


Electricity is generated a number of ways with various techniques. Generally

electricity is generated in large quantities at distant locations. Once the electricity is
generated it must be transported either via alternate or direct current to the
consumers location. Location plays a vital role in determining which method is more
efficient for transportation. Large power grids help transport large quantities of
electricity efficiently through out a given occupied area. The electricity must be
delivered to the consumer at the appropriate voltage.

Voltage, also known as an
electric motive force(EMF),
is the measurement of
pressure or electric potential
between two points that
results in the movement of
electrons from one atom to
another(WAPA). Electrons
that are moving freely move
into a conductor from atom
to atom whenever in the
presence of electrical
potential. When there is high
voltage there is lots of
potential energy, e.g., generation. When there is low voltage there is little potential
energy, e.g., consumer. One volt is equal to one joule per coulomb.
Watts are a measurement of power, describing the rate at which electricity is being
used at a specific moment. Watt-hours are a measurement of energy, describing the
total amount of electricity used over time. Watt-hours are a combination of how fast
the electricity is used, in watts, and the length of time it is used, in hours. One
horsepower is equivalent to 746 watts. One watt is equal to one joule per second.
Watts is found by multiplying voltage and amps. Electricity is measured by how much
energy is used over a given amount of time.

Ohm's law of 1826 states, if the ambient temperature remains constant, the current
flowing through certain conductors is proportional to the potential difference, voltage,
across it(Harvard). In simpler terms, current equals voltage divided by resistance. "I"
is current, "V" is voltage, and "R" is resistance. Resistance is property of any object

or substance to resist or oppose the flow of an

electrical current. The resistance of an object or
substance varies with the materials that compose
the object or substance. The higher the
resistance in a material, the more resistant it is to
the flow of electricity. As if the resistance of an
object or substance is low, the less resistant it is
to the flow of electricity. The resistance can also
vary depending on the length and geometry of an
object to substance.

Ampere, also known as an amp, measure current(I), which is the amount of
coulombs flowing past a point in one second. One ampere is equal to one coulomb
per second. Amperes can be viewed as a way to measure the flow rate of charged
particles. Amperes in large amounts can be lethal and lead to an excess loss of
energy through heat.

Alternate Current
In alternating current(AC) the flow of electric charge is constantly changing direction.
The poles(-,+) switch at an interval known as the frequency. In the United States
the frequency is set at 60
hertz. In simpler terms, the
poles flip 60 times from
negative(-) to positive(+) every
second. The frequency within a
nation varies internationally.
Modern day power grids
operate on alternating current.
Alternating current is very
efficient for the transmission of
electricity over long distances
by increasing the voltage
through a device called a
transformer. Alternate current
is achieved through the conversion of direct current into alternating current through a
device called an inverter. Alternate current is also produced by AC generators.

Direct Current

In direct current(DC) the flow of electric charge is only in one direction. With the
generation of direct current, Direct current is produced by electrochemical batteries,
solar photovoltaic cells, and DC generators. Direct current is also efficient and used
sometimes in the transporting of large quantities of power. For grid use, direct
current must be converted to alternate current. Micro grids can also be built with
direct current systems and save energy losses.

A voltage converter is an electric power converter which changes the voltage of an
electrical power source. It can be combined with other components to create a power
supply. An inverter changes currents of electricity, direct current to alternate current
and vice versa. Appliances that need DC but have to take power from AC outlets
need an extra piece of equipment called a rectifier, typically built from electronic
components called diodes, to convert from AC to DC. The runtime of an inverter is
dependent on the battery power and the number of plugs utilizing the inverter at a
given time. As the amount of equipment utilizing the inverter increases, the runtime
will decrease. In order to
extend the runtime of an
inverter, additional batteries
can be added to the

Solar Panels
In 2012, cumulative installed solar photovoltaic(PV) capacity grew more than 83%
from the previous year. In 2012, solar energy was one of the two fastest growing
electric generation technologies worldwide. Solar generation grew by a factor of 49
between 2000 and 2012(Solar Data, 2013). Chinese manufacturers lead the market
with nearly 85% of the global photovoltaic module production. Germany leads
internationally in solar photovoltaic installations with 32.4 gigawatts(GW) installed. In
the United States, California leads the states in solar generation with a PV
cumulative capacity of 2,559.3 megawatts(MW) and a annual capacity of 983.2 MW.
Photovoltaics (PV) subprograms are working to make PV competitive with
conventional forms of electricity by 2015 and
fully commercialized between 2020 and

Types of Solar Panels

There are four types of solar panels: polycrystalline, mono-crystalline, and

amorphous. The solar cells in mono-crystalline panels are slices cut from pure
crystalline silicon bars. The entire cell is aligned in one direction, which means that
when the sun is shining brightly on them at the correct angle, they are extremely
efficient. Therefore, mono-crystalline panels work best with the sun shining directly
on them. Polycrystalline panels are composed of silicon offcuts. Polycrystalline
panels are moulded to form blocks and create a cell made up of several bits of pure
crystal. Due to the individual crystals not aligning perfectly together there are losses
at the joints between them resulting in efficiency loss. However, the mis-alignment
can aid in some circumstances, because the cells work better from light at all angles,
e.g., low light. Since Polycrystalline panels cells are cut into rectangular blocks, there
is very little wasted space on the panel(c-changes.com). Amorphous cells are
manufactured by placing a thin film of amorphous, non crystalline, silicon onto a wide
choice of surfaces. Amorphous cells are the least efficient and least expensive to
produce. Due to the thin layer, it is flexible, and if manufactured on a flexible surface,
the whole solar panel can be flexible. One characteristic of amorphous solar cells is
the power reduction in output over time. This power reduction particularly occurs
during the first few months after installation. After the first few months they
stabilize(Solar Facts). These thin-film cells have an absorber layer thickness of a few
micrometers(m) or less and are deposited on glass, metal or plastic substrates with
areas of up to 5.7 m2 (Stein et al., 2009)(Direct Solar Energy).

Tilt of Solar Panel

The angle of the panel can affect the way that the suns rays hit it. This will then
affect what comes out
of the panel. It is
common to have panels
at angles that face the
equator (Solar Voltaic
Energy). Making the
angle of tilt of the panel
equal to the angle of
latitude for the location
of the panel can
maximize light contact.
However, the tilt should
be at least ten degrees
in order to account for rainfall which can damage a flat panel (Solar Voltaic
Energy). If the object being powered by the panel is required in different locations,
having a portable panel may to useful. Examples of this being necessary would be in
lighting systems as well as irrigation pumping systems (Solar Voltaic Energy).

Solar Energy Storage

Electrical energy devices known as batteries are crucial for the storage of solar
energy. Batteries are devices that convert stored chemical energy into useful
electrical energy. Batteries consist of single or multiple galvanic cells, connected in
series to generate higher voltages(BEC). The battery type that is used quite often for
solar applications is the 12 volt deep cycle battery. These 12 volt deep cycle
batteries are designed to be repeatedly discharged up to 80% time after time, for
years. Deep cycle batteries have thicker plates. Thicker plates means less initial
power, but better long term cycling
capabilities, cycling meaning a
discharge with subsequent
charge(Simple Solar Guide, 2014).

The wiring for a solar system
varies with the size of the system
being installed. Wiring or cable
size is measured in gauge or
referred to as the American Wire
Gauge(AWG). The American Wire
Gauge is a standardized wire gauge measuring system used since 1857, mostly in
the U.S. and Canada for measuring the diameter of conducting wire. AWG is used as
an identifier. Wire is rated according to the number of amps that can safely pass
along the conducting wire. The higher the amps, thicker the wire and lower the
gauge. Increased distance requires heavier wiring(Simple Solar Guide, 2014).

Solar Radiation
Insolation is when the suns rays hit the earth at a specific time and place. This is
often expressed in terms of watts per meter
squared (W/m^2) (Pratt & Shaeffer 56).
Knowing at what times in the year an area
receives the most sunlight can be helpful.
This can be informative of when the panel
will work at its peak. This can help with the
decision of what angle the solar panel
should be positioned at (Pratt & Shaeffer
If the energy is only required at times when
the sun is shining on the panel, then it is
possible for the panel to be wired directly to
the device it is powering. Some examples of
this include a greenhouse fan or water
pump which may only be necessary during

the day, opposed to an outdoor light which is generally only useful at night (Pratt &
Shaeffer 56).
The hours when the panel will receive the most light are between 9:00am and
3:00pm (Pratt & Shaeffer 56). Therefore, it is pertinent that there be no shade
blocking the panel during these hours. Having even a small portion of the panel
blocked by shade can highly limit the power of the whole panel (Pratt & Shaeffer 56).
Our Panel
We have one to two donated PV panels, each 13 years old, 100W.
A meter acts as a gauge that informs you of where you are pulling your power
from, and how much power is being drawn at any given moment.
Volt Meter

Battery Voltage (state of charge)

Panel Voltage, Current, Power and Total Energy produced over a certain

Load Power and Total Energy used over a certain period


The charge controller functions as a voltage regulator. The main function

of a controller is to prevent the battery from being overcharged by the pv

The charge controller is capable of sensing a batterys current state of

voltage. When a battery is fully charged, the controller will either stop or
slow down the amount of current flowing into the battery from the pv

Charge controllers come in different sizes and must match the pv system

The controller must also be able to handle the maximum pv array current
flowing through the controller at any given moment.

Protection from the Environment

In a coastal environment, corrosion plays a huge factor. The salt in the air, the wind,
and the rain can be hugely taxing on structures, particularly those made of metals.
Furthermore, these conditions affect the delicate surface of solar panels in dramatic
ways. According to Seamus Curran, director of the Institute for NanoEnergy, a solar
panel can function up to 30% less effectively when dirty. (Curran, 2013)





Acid Rain
Acid rain, precipitation with a low pH due to excess sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxide,
can permanently damage structures. Metals react to the acidity and corrode, while
stone erodes and paint peels. (NASA, 2013)
Rust is a compound formed when iron reacts with oxygen in the presence of water.
In time, any combination of iron, oxygen and water will completely disintegrate. Rust
is detrimental to structures because it is permeable to air and water. When a

structure begins to rust on the outside, the inner layers are exposed to moisture,
causing them to rust away as well(Marais, 2003). There are many rust prevention
techniques. Sometimes merely choosing a rust-resistant alloy is enough, however,
there is also galvanization, cathodic protection, coatings, and corrosion inhibitors.
Stainless steel and weathering steel are two materials that resist rust. Stainless steel
forms a thin layer of chromium oxide, called a passivation layer, on its surface. This
passivation layer does not react as much with the environment, and seals off the
steel from the elements. Weathering steel is an alloy that rusts at a slower rate than
usual due to a protective layer on the outside(ASTM International, 2010). In cathodic
protection, a surface is supplied with an electrical charge, which stops the rust
reaction. This can be done by attaching a more electronegative metal such as zinc,
aluminum or magnesium, which serves as a sacrificial anode. The steel underneath
then acts as the cathode. This method only stops working once the sacrificial anode
corrodes away.Galvanization is the process of applying a thin layer of metallic zinc
or cadmium to a surface. This layer adheres to steel and serves as a first layer of
defense against the elements. In addition, it can provide some cathodic protection to
the structure. Typically, galvanization can be expected to last 85 years(American
Galvanizers Association, 2014). Coatings such as paint, lacquer, and varnish control
rust by isolating the structure from the elements. Large structures can also be
protected by covering them in waxes,oil, or concrete.
LEDs, or lightemitting diodes, are semiconductor devices that produce
visible light when an electrical current is passed through them(Energy
Star, 2014). LEDs are a type of Solid State Lighting (SSL). LED lighting
differs from incandescent and compact fluorescent lighting in several
ways. LED lighting products use light emitting diodes to produce light. An
electrical current passes through a semiconductor material were it
illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs. The heat produced is
absorbed into a heat sink. LEDs are small and provide unique design
opportunities allowing flexibility. LEDs are directional light sources
meaning that they emit light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent
and compact fluorescent bulbs, which emit light and heat in all directions.
LED lighting systems dont radiate heat the way incandescent or halogen
light bulb do. The heat produced from the power going into the product
must be drawn away from the LEDs. This is usually accomplished with a
heat sink, which is a passive device that absorbs the heat produced and
dissipates it into the surrounding environment(Energy Star, 2014).
Thermal management is probably the single most important factor in the
successful performance of an LED product over its lifetime. The higher the
temperature at which the LEDs operate, the more quickly the light will
degrade, and the shorter the useful life will be.
Mechanical fans can be used to move air throughout a room (Martin, Murilee).
Involved in this process are blades which perform the action of moving the air.

Having something around the blades, protecting them from human contact, can be
useful to protect against safety hazards. Some fans will have a motor included
(Martin, Murilee). The fan can be powered by AC or DC power depending on their
purpose (Martin, Murilee). Using a 75-watt photovoltaic panel and some junkyard car
fans, Colorado resident Murilee Martin created a ventilation system for an attic.
(Martin, 2014)
Powering Chromebooks/Charging Station
The Strawberry Tree is an example of a solar-powered charging station. Developed
by the Serbian company Strawberry Energy, the Strawberry Tree consists of solar
panels, rechargeable batteries with a charge life of 14 days, and 16 different
charging cables for public use. It is mounted in a public place for public use, and has
been replicated in many other countries since its inception in 2011 (Turnbull, 2011).
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