Five years later: solar panel data

Posted on May 17th, 2018 at 2:10 pm by

May 17, 2018 marks the fifth anniversary of the installation of our solar roof panels. On this special occasion, we celebrate with a review five years worth of data. 

Back in a 2013 blog post, we reminisced about the 2003 acquisition and transformation of an old shirtwaist factory into our office. We remembered how we “shored up the structure and added new aluminum windows, sleek steel awnings and a few coats of paint” as well as installing a TPO weather membrane to the roof.

In this same blog post, we announced the installation of 87 290-watt solar panels to the new el dorado roof covering 3,625 square-feet. These photovoltaic (PV) panels and 25.23kW PV system have been connected to three 10 kilowatt-hour (kWh) inverters (named Sunnyboy 7000) ever since. After the first cloudy week of operation, these solar panels produced 468.1 kWh of energy and saved 796 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere.

For context, in 2013, one T5 fluorescent light fixture running for 10 hours a day required .32 kWh of energy. On regular day in the office we have approximately 78 T5’s illuminating our office (132 in total excluding our shop). So to power our office lights for a single day, it takes approximately 42.12 kWh of energy. That means our 25.23 kW PV system powers our lights all day with just under four hours of sunlight exposure. Full equation below:

(1) 4′ HO T5 = 54 watts
54 watts = .054 kW
(1) 4′ HO T5 used over 10 hours (average work day), .054kW x 10h = .54kWh
78 T5’s consume 42.12kWh of energy (average work day)
Our 25.5kW photovoltaic system produced a total of 150.64kWh on Monday May 23, 2013.
So, the 42.12kWh of energy consumed by our T5’s where completely powered by our photovoltaic system after approximately fours of exposure.

Now, on their five year anniversary, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate the data that has been collected by the three Sunnyboy 7000’s. In five years, el dorado’s solar panel system has offset 113.84 tons of CO2. To put this into perspective, one ton of CO2 would fill a 27 x 27 foot cube! If these cubes were placed side by side, they would dwarf the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. The average American car emits about seven tons of CO2 per year; the average American family, about 24 tons; the United States as a whole, over seven billion tons; and worldwide, almost 30 billion tons per year. Curious about your personal carbon footprint? Calculate it here.

Since our first week of 468.1 kWh of production, our solar panels have generated 162,633.34 kWh of energy. This equates to 3,861.19 days or 14.85 years (260 working days) of keeping the lights on at 510 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez.


As our architectural, fabrication, curatorial practice continues to expansively rethink systems of urgent concern, these staggering statistics from 87 solar panels are a reminder to consider everything affecting the future of humanity. We anticipate what the next five years of data will bring by continuing to invest in the collective us.