Two alumni of IIT-Madras have come up with solutions for energy requirements for domestic and commercial purposes. R. Ramarathnam and S. Ram Krishnan have shown by example that by tapping the sun’s energy, electricity bills can be drastically cut.
At Rain Centre in Mandaveli, Mr. Ramarathnam has installed solar panels on the terrace. During the day, the centre’s three rooms use solar energy to run a one-tonne air-conditioner, 330 litre fridge, nine LED lights and three ceiling fans. “Normally we have to use 5 KW to run so many appliances but with solar energy we can run them using much less electricity,” he said.
“We have installed nine solar panels of 160 watts each, which generate 1,440 watt of electricity. Also, less space is used. For 5 KW we would use around 400 sq. ft. but this requires comparatively less space. It uses only 115 sq. ft., making it ideal for multi-storey buildings,” Mr. Ramarathnam said.
The installation at Rain Centre is unlike conventional solar panels Mr. Ram Krishnan has fixed in his house in the US. The centre does not use an inverter to store electricity. The energy tapped is directly sent to power the equipment. The centre has also installed hybrid equipment manufactured using the technology provided by the two engineers.
The equipment is automatically geared to use electricity supply from the main line after sundown. According to Mr. Ramarathnam, the life of the panels is around 25 years. “For 20 years it will give full power. The life of appliances is 15 years,” he said.
It cost the Rain Centre Rs. 1 lakh to install the panels and no expense for wiring as the existing electrical wiring was used for supply. After the solar panels were fixed, the Centre added a 1 ton air-conditioner and a 330 lt fridge. Though it has retained the tube lights they are sparingly used. The Centre has added nine LED lights that use solar energy.
Rain Centre director Sekhar Raghavan said electricity consumption had reduced by almost a third.
“We installed a watt meter to one of the hybrid fans to measure our energy consumption. If you consume 1,000 watts for an hour, you consume one unit of electricity. The fan consumed only 25 watts instead of the usual 75. The fridge and AC run on half the normal power consumption,” he said.
Mr. Ramarathnam sasid there were proposals to set up model energy centres across the city. “We will also hold open houses during weekends and put up the details of the energy used in the public domain,” he said.