Over the course of 2019, Texas Flange has begun to switch our sales office to solar power. Here we share the why, what, and how of that process. We hope that by sharing our story we can help others who choose to switch to solar energy.
In early June of this year, Texas Flange’s main sales office experienced 2 power outages due to storms. Once the power was out, there was next to nothing to do in the office until power was restored (that is, nothing except office hangman, card games, and getting to know one another a bit better). The salespeople, however, were still able to answer the phones until the battery backup on the phones was exhausted – which lasted a couple hours – in the middle of a call. After that, business really did come to a screeching halt.
Of course, power out means no business. No business is no bueno. The solution? Batteries! With batteries serving as a backup in the case of a power outage, then the business can still operate with very few sacrifices until the power is restored. But wait… How are we going to charge those batteries?
The solution to the solution? SOLAR POWER! Clean energy to power the office that sells industrial flanges to the oil and gas industry! Nothing could be better! But how did we do that, you ask? Well keep reading below to find out!
Phase 1: Sourcing Solar Power Components
There are a ton of options out there to set up solar power for a building. However, many of them are quite expensive. For the system we required, accounting for materials and installation, the pricing was becoming intimidating. Then we discovered that we could do the legwork and install it ourselves (with a lot of guidance of course).
Phase 2: Delivery
After we decided what we needed for our building, we ordered all the parts needed to go solar!! We patiently waited for the parts to arrive, and as soon as they did, we made sure to catalog everything we received and ensure we were not missing any parts. The following list is not all-inclusive but should give you a fairly good idea of what was needed at our facility. Every install is different depending on what your base requirements are, geographic location, azimuth, where the sun moves throughout the day in comparison to where the solar power panels are installed, ect.
What we used:
21 – Solar panels (and all related mounting hardware for roof installation)
21 – Rechargable batteries (wired in series to make one large battery bank for the office)
1 – hybrid inverter system (allows grid tied backup, as well as off grid solar.)
2 – photovoltaic charge controllers
1 – communications box (allows access to an online dashboard and makes it easier to manage/check on system)
Phase 3: Installation / Registration of Solar Components
All things considered; the installation went rather smoothly. We mounted the panels on the roof, and installed the electronics inside the building. After the initial testing and then setting up the dashboard and online system, we were almost ready to turn it on and start generating our own solar energy!
We requested the paperwork from our electricity provider, and although it felt like jumping through hoops, it was not unreasonable or unmanageable. We would advise having your solar installer fill this paperwork out, or at least assist you. There are very specific technical questions relating to the install and what kind of system is in place.
Phase 4: KNS Solar
After receiving the parts and equipment and mounting the solar panels, we realized we may be in a little over our heads regarding the electrical aspect of the project and called upon Houston area solar companies to give us a hand. Many were unable to assist due to their lack of knowledge pertaining to the particular equipment we had, but Guy with KNS Solar was eager to help. Upon receiving our message, he called to get more information and came out the very next day. He, along with his electrician, Israel, were able to get us up and going in under a week. In addition to assisting with the electrical, he advised the mistakes we made along the way and helped us to fix those as well. By explaining the way the system worked, Guy gave us the knowledge and confidence to monitor the equipment after all was said and done.
KNS Solar helped us to Go Green and in fact encouraged our boss, Jeff Barnett, to do the same in his own home and took on the project of setting up solar services at Jeff’s house, pictured below.
** NOTE: LOCAL LAWS MAY DIFFER! BE SURE TO DISCUSS ANY POTENTIAL CHANGES WITH YOUR CITY/ELECTRICITY PROVIDER. IN OUR CASE, WE HAD TO REGISTER OUR SYSTEM WITH CENTERPOINT, AND HAD THE BUILLDING INSPECTED BEFORE WE COULD UTILIZE OUR SOLAR ARRAY. **
What does this mean for Texas Flange moving forward?
Well, for starters, during inclement weather or power outages, we should still be able to do business as usual and assist our customers! If grid power were to fall off, we can run our office for most of the day off our battery bank. The caveat is that we will have to prioritize what we can and cannot run, meaning that the first thing to go will likely be air-conditioning if we want our batteries to last more than a few hours. So, make sure to account for any and all equipment that requires electricity and only run the essentials for daily operations!
The other big benefit of having a solar system (not the planetary kind) is the ability to sell any excess power we generate back to the grid, thus lowering our operation costs long term while still lowering our carbon footprint! We may not spend all our free time hugging trees, but we don’t mind helping out where we can, especially when such efforts help us better service our customers!
While we recognize that we are a small part of the oil and gas industry, large players in the industry have already started to look more into renewable energy sources! In the grand scheme of things, our solar powered system will affect the environment very little, but we hope to inspire people start to utilizing renewable energy, thus making a massive difference on our environmental sustainability.
Check out what else Texas Flange has been up to in 2019 : https://www.texasflange.com/blog/texas-flange-pays-it-forward-2019/