Peterson Field House Solar Panel Roof Generates Enough Electricity to Power Several Average Size Homes

February 12, 2010

The solar panel roof above the Peterson Field House on Mount Union’s campus is generating enough electricity to power several average size homes. It is one of the largest single solar arrays in the State of Ohio.

“On January 15 the solar panel roof was turned on,” said Blaine Lewis, director of physical plant. “The thin film laminate installation was actually completed in December, but we were waiting for Ohio Edison and First Energy to conduct a thorough inspection and acceptance of the system.”   

The 54 kW system remains on at all times, allowing the system to create renewable energy from dawn to dusk. The inverters take a direct current (DC) voltage from the sunlight and inverts it into an alternating current (AC) voltage. “Any daylight will create electricity,” Lewis added.


Solar panel systems work best in Northeast Ohio when placed at an angle and the south side of the Peterson Field House is ideally sloped at 45 degrees. “A solar system performs best when installed directly facing south,” said Lewis. “North facing systems aren’t as efficient, they work, but they don’t get direct sun.”

Currently the system is generating most of the energy that powers the fitness center. The fitness center is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and includes 16 flat panel televisions, 16 treadmills and 14 ellipticals. For those 17 hours, the solar panel is powering the center and even when members of the campus community are not in the building, there are still lights on which utilizes energy.

The roofing system was made possible through the generosity of Jack and Madge Peters and grants, which are available due to the initiative to have 25 percent of Ohio’s power be generated through renewable energy sources by 2025.

“The system was a good investment for the institution,” said Lewis. “Not only for renewable energy purposes, but the roofing system will be used as an educational tool as well.”

The Department of Biology and the Department of Engineering will be able to track the amount of energy used and then compare the results to other months or years.  From an academic standpoint, students can put the results into perspective; even find out what the efficiency of the unit is during the winter.

Lewis explained that the institution could expand the system, but no decisions have been made.

For more information about Mount Union's sustainable practices, click here.

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