Chip Rawlins

The Challenge
Though living at 7500 feet in the foothills of the Snowy Range of Southern Wyoming, Chip Rawlins’ carefully engineered greenhouse can keep tomatoes going through the dark of winter. In 2004, Creative Energies installed solar on Chip’s previous home. Now he was ready for solar on this one as well. He wanted to meet all of his electrical needs from the sun, knew he did not want solar on his roof, and knew that the snow piles up deep in those high-altitude winters.

The Creative Energies Solution

Working closely with Chip, and starting with a system plan that he had developed himself, Creative Energies filled in the remaining details and specified the equipment that best met his circumstances. The solar array is mounted on two large pole mounts. These mounts are tall enough to avoid substantial winter-time losses to snow build-up. Each mount has a pivot and tilt angle adjustment setting so that Chip can change the tilt angle seasonally to maximize year-round energy production.

Now, a year after the system was commissioned, the results are in. Chip’s system is producing an incredible 1,840 kw-hrs per kW of solar capacity. His high altitude setting gives him year-round cold temperatures. Long months of snow-covered ground give him a boost from reflectance. Seasonal adjustment of the tilt angle adds at least 5% to the annual generation.

The System

  • 4.1 kW residential grid tie PV system consisting of eighteen REC 230W solar modules.
  • Two Direct Power and Water Top-of-Pole mounts.
  • Two SMA High Frequency 200 watt inverters.