Carmanah Lights the Way

SOLAR POWER: Victoria firm will power NEC displays

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Victoria's Carmanah Technologies made its own splash this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The renewable power company, along with partner NEC Display Solutions of America, launched what it says is the world's first solar-powered battery system for a complete line of desktop computer monitors.

NEC will sell the solar-power system to business and retail customers in North America. The system will produce about 293 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or 800 watts per day - enough to significantly reduce or eliminate a monitor's use of electricity from the grid - and is compatible with all NEC desktop monitors.

Carmanah Technologies is a long-time manufacturer of stand-alone solar-powered LED lighting for outdoor transportation applications and stand-alone solar-power systems, but this is a new direction for the company.

"NEC has a green initiative and they would like to offer backup power solutions along with their products," said Mike Stephens, Carmanah Technologies sales manager for the North American mobile market.

"They chose us because we could put together a solution for them. We produce solar-charging RV kits and this is drawn from that product."

The unit includes two 120-watt solar panels, three 12-volt solar batteries, a digital charge controller, power inverter and battery charger.

The company said the lifespan of the batteries is about 20 years, depending on the number of charge cycles, while solar panels last 50 years or more.

Stephens said the ideal set-up is to have the panels permanently fixed to the outside of a building, but there is also a mobile application, such as at a kiosk. Stephens said the cost of a package is about $2,500 for a two-panel installation and $1,500 for one panel.