Friday, July 8, 2011

Solar Powered Carwash - Is It Really Feasible?

Running water pumps, lighting, cash registers, vacuum systems, and robotic tunnel carwash equipment takes a lot of amperage and electrical power, even with all of the hydraulic assist in even the most state-of-the-art carwashing systems. Thus, solar powered carwashes just have not fully taken hold - yet. Okay so, this is an interesting topic and perhaps, we can hash out a few of the details here for you.

There was an interesting article in the Newark Post recently telling of a carwash in DE that is partially powered by solar. The article was titled; "New 'Solar Powered" Wash Opening in DE" and published on November 28, 2011, which stated; "the system can produce 23,695 kilo-watts per year."

Okay so, let's discuss this shall we? First, I have to admit, this is great for PR, and perhaps tax-credits too, still one has to ask if it's a worthwhile financial decision. I have mixed emotions on this really, let me explain. You see, a fully automatic robotic tunnel system uses a ton of electrical power, and there is no way a solar panel system could keep up with all of that heavy demand and 220-Volt draw on the power supply. Even if the carwash had lots of batteries to store the juice you have to remember that during the daylight hours is exactly when the carwash needs that power.

At night "the Sun notoriously, doesn't shine" and you may think that is funny, but I actually heard that statement from a Nobel Lariat at our local University while giving a speech. From an energy cost standpoint, it just doesn't make sense. However, due to subsidized solar power, and tax credits it might pencil out as a zero-cost outlay. I thinj the main benefit here would actually be for the public relations, as carwash customers will want to do business with a carwash which is environmentally and politically correct.

It makes sense that with such an investment in solar that the carwash would wish to position itself as working to reduce its carbon footprint and grab hold of the eco-craze to harness new clientele in the area. Also lots of solar panels on top of the carwash will continue to make that statement even after the goodwill marketing is over its peak. Hopefully you see that point too.

Now then, it's not that I don't believe that in the future that solar panels will become more efficient, I know they will, and thus, at that future time it will make more sense for all carwashes to "go solar or go home," it's just that such technology is not here yet, it's going to be another 10-years before it is available in abundance in the free-market. Getting an early start on solar now might make sense for reasons other than energy conservation - that's all I am saying here. So, please consider all this and think on it.