- By Drew Parry
Last Tuesday the students from the Living Light studio, Tennessee’s Solar Decathlon team, were fortunate enough to visit Knoxville’s very own EPRI Laboratory to tour the facilities and gain a better understanding of what exactly EPRI does and how they help develop and test numerous products. While there, the team was shown a brief video explaining what EPRI’s main goals are and how the laboratories function and what products they test, and exactly what tests they conduct.
One of the fascinating aspects about what EPRI does is that it is a non-profit organization that is hired by utility boards all across the United States and some from abroad, to begin to test and devise better ways of storing and creating energy, and not to mention the many company’s that hire them to test their products for energy use and consumption.
Our local branch of EPRI is the site at which they test products anywhere from the common light bulb to a more specific water heater designed in Japan. One of the most fascinating aspects shown to the team was the real time/real hourly utility rate for any utility company in the country, and how the time of day affected how much you ended up paying for your energy. The laboratory went even further and began testing what products turned on at what time of day and on what setting, for example turning the AC up to 78 during the late afternoon instead of keeping it at 76 saved the average homeowner money.
As the team ended their tour they got to see the solar department and were fortunate enough see how EPRI are testing putting solar panel’s on pre-existing utility polls and what energy can be gained from them, and EPRI’s result show that for every panel they were averaging 200 watts of energy. This idea of putting solar panels on pre-existing utility polls is something New Jersey is considering implementing in the future, and this couldn’t have happened without the help of Knoxville’s very own EPRI Labs.
For more information, and the visit EPRI’s website here.