Stardust Building Supplies is a local nonprofit organization aimed at reducing waste and improving sustainability through the redistribution of used or surplus building materials. Stardust foresees an increase in solar panel donations in the near future as older systems are decommissioned. Currently, Stardust has no reliable way of testing and valuing these donated panels.This solution will require an intuitive design that is capable of collecting accurate data measurements and providing an approximate degradation value for the panels.
The solution to this project comes in two forms: hardware and software. The hardware solution involves building a cart capable of transporting solar panels, as well as an integrated rack that can hold and test these panels under direct sunlight. The panel output will be measured with a dedicated wattmeter linked to the cart. The software solution will take these values from the wattmeter, along with other variables obtained from NREL solar irradiance data, and compute an estimate efficiency for the solar panel. Using this efficiency, we can estimate how much degradation the panel has gone through, and what a good price point would be for resale at Stardust. Both teams have completed modeling of the cart, as well as the user interface for the software, and prototyping and polishing of both will begin this semester.