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Have a Cold One on the Sun

The sun is not the first thing that most of us turn to when we want a frosty beverage, but when it comes to generating power from sunlight, maybe it should be.

“Beer chilled by the sun” might be the new slogan for Henry Voelcker Beer Distributors in Danville, Pennsylvania. Home to 1,000 different beers in stock, Voelcker’s recently completed a 91.8kW (DC) roof mount PV system.  The system will cover 100% of the electric usage on site and, using the local utility’s virtual metering policies, the excess will be credited to other facilities. 

“We intentionally designed the system to overproduce so the owner could use the overage on another business he owns in the area. As a matter of fact, in testing, we were putting so much back into the grid that the local utility had to upgrade some of their equipment to handle it!” said Al DeGaetano, Owner of Futureview Solar Solutions.

The approximately 10,000 square foot facility hosts beer distribution, a craft beer center, and dabbles in wine making for homeowners by supplying wine kits and guidance. This was a perfect solar fit as the facility, unlike most, uses the least amount of electricity in the winter, shutting off their compressors and opening the doors! For these four months during the year the electrical load is just about lighting.  Futureview Solar Solutions also brought in one of their associates to upgrade all interior and exterior lighting to LEDs to further conserve energy.

“Aside from the environmental benefits, solar has allowed me to fix my overhead cost, inflation proof my business, and save over a quarter of a million dollars over the life of the system,” says Marcus Van Sickle, owner of Henry Voelcker Distributors. “It seemed like a no-brainer,” he concluded.

The system uses 4x SE20KUS SolarEdge Inverters and almost 300x 310-Watt Axitec modules optimized by nearly 150 SolarEdge P700 power optimizers.  The power optimizers provide module-level monitoring of PV production directly to the cloud-based SolarEdge monitoring platform. Through this technology, Futureview Solar Solutions can set up automated alerts and diagnose issues remotely reducing costly truck rolls. Meanwhile, Mr. Van Sickle has the peace of mind knowing that his investment is producing more energy through module level maximum power point tracking and increased system uptime.

“I love the ability to monitor the system and keep track of that in real time. As a matter of fact, we are installing a large TV so our customers can see the system’s production. Also, unlike other systems we looked into, Futureview Solar Solutions receives immediate notification if there are any abnormalities.  Issues can quickly be resolved to minimize any downtime. This is a great feature that sold me,” said Van Sickle.

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