Unlike other charging devices that use traditional public utility-generated electricity, Merit’s solar-powered charging station powers vehicles using electricity generated through solar power. The beauty of the system, which resembles a carport, is it can be set up anywhere, including national parks, and is not tied into traditional power sources.
“The Solar Charging Station takes President Obama’s Executive Order to reduce vehicle emissions one step further by using the sun – and not utility-generated electricity – to power the government’s fleet,” said Malia Kaiser, president of Merit Builders, a nationally recognized, independent erector that has served the metal building industry since 1987.
Merit’s commitment to renewable energy sources led to the design and development of its Solar Charging Station by Merit Solar, a division of Merit Builders. The Solar Charging Station consists of a metal carport with solar panels affixed to the roof. The energy generated by the solar panels is converted into electricity. Each parking space within the Solar Charging Station is outfitted with a retractable electrical connector that is used to recharge the given vehicle.
The solar powered charging station's connectors conform to all national auto manufacturers’ specifications and can be used to power the new generation of electric vehicles currently being released by Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, and other emerging EV auto makers such as Tesla.
“Each EV charge controller is capable of providing Level 2 charging to two separate vehicles simultaneously,” said Jared Starin, Merit Solar’s design engineer, referring to Level 2’s higher amperage and shorter charging time. Starin says the Solar Charging Station’s controller, which makes and records transactions, operates much like those found on traditional gas pumps. “Our controllers are capable of accepting traditional credit cards or the fleet cards that are used by government employees,” said Starin. “The fleet card application generates the same type of data recorded during traditional Level 3 credit card transactions.”
The Solar Charging Station is designed to the specifications of a traditional 9’ x 20’ parking space but can be constructed to accommodate any site or fleet requirement. The Station’s grid-tied system meets all applicable construction codes throughout the U.S. and its design requires minimal maintenance. The materials used to construct the carport have a lifetime structural certification and are completely recyclable. The solar modules have a 25-year warranty.
The Solar Charging Station was exhibited at the GSA Sustainability Day event last July where it was seen by hundreds of GSA employees. “Placement of the Solar Charging Station and other ‘green’ products on the GSA Schedule demonstrates the government’s commitment to an environmentally cleaner world,” said one high-ranking GSA employee.