Major Project Overhaul

Unfortunately, the method of data collection we had employed for this project (namely MySQL) has caused HDL (our generous site host) many problems. It was bad enough that they were forced to shut down the website. We want to say that the development team is very sorry for the problems caused. These problems have prompted us to re-evaluate how the site manages the data from a location and we have just completed the launch of a new database free method. This should allow us to stay in the good graces of HDL and it is a more direct approach to the data.

Ypsilanti Food Cooperative Panel Installation

The Ypsilanti Food Cooperative has completed the installation of the final 7 panels on its roof. All 12 panels have been physically installed, but they are now wired in and producing power! We are expecting to see outflow on a more regular basis now because sunny days should allow for the production of more power than the store consumes.

We are working on putting a running counter of the money saved on the website so we can show that Ypsilanti is saving money on its energy bills with these solar panels.

New Data Chart, Outflow, and Updated Code

A new usage chart has been created to display the amount of electricity used by a location and how much of that electricity was generated by the solar panels. The code that created this has been added to the PHP package and the package was updated on the website.

Today (May 10, 2009) the Ypsilanti Food Cooperative generated enough electricity through the solar panels that some electricity was put back into the electricity grid for credit from DTE. This is the first time we have seen this happen since meter monitoring went online on April 17, 2009.

New Website Functionality and Updated Code

The current weather conditions are now displayed on the webpage so the solar generation output makes more sense. The sunnier it is, the higher the generation. You can also now view previous day and week charts for any generation site. Sunrise, local noon, and sunset times are displayed on the daily chart now and back through May 2nd. Small layout changes were also made.

The PHP code available through the website now has a sample index page and includes the javascript related to the charts that is used on the website and the FusionCharts Free chart used to display the data.

Two Month Update

We continue to make progress on the Ypsilanti City Hall Solar project.

The panels are bought and stored at the Ypsi Food Cooperative. The electrical schematic is finished and online. We just finished taking bids from electricians for wiring the solar power into the build, and will be hiring the electrician soon.

We have finished the rack design and submitted the parts list to UniStrut for a quote.

We have gotten a quote from Hilti for the HY 150-max epoxy anchors.

We have just finished another two-month progress report for the State of Michigan.  Previous progress reports are also available:

We hope to install the panels on City Hall in late May early June.

The best progress in the past two months came from volunteers Prof. Bill Sverdlik and his student Nik Estep. They have been working on the solar/utility power monitoring program. Recall that as part of this project we will have an online monitor that will show power being generated, power flowing into the building from DTE, and any power flowing out of the building to be credited with DTE. With networking/linux help from volunteers Paul Haas and Jon Keim, we were able to connect a laptop in the Ypsi Food Coop, to the utility meters and the internet. Nik Estep has been able finish the laptop program that continuously polls the utility meters for pulses and then sends that information to a database at That website, generously provided by, then generates real time graphs of the generation, inflow, and outflow power.

You can see these graphs for the Ypsi Food Coop at Zoom in and click on the Cooperative’s button and select <site details>. (here’s a short cut link: Food Coop Details)

Once we get the panels installed at City Hall, we will make similar graphs for City Hall’s generation, inflow, and outflow power. This has already been effective at saving energy at the Cooperative, since we were able to quickly tell that the lights were left on one night.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at The next Solar Presentation will be at the Ypsi Food Coop on May 30th, or call the Cooperative to schedule your own presentation. Back Online

For those of you that were wondering, the website has been offline for about 24 hours because development efforts caused the crash of the MySQL database server provided by HDL (our hosting company). They took our site offline as a result. The problems have been fixed and we were able to use the TREADS server at Eastern Michigan University to continue to collect data during the site outage. We apologize for the inconvience we have caused HDL.

That being said, the system has been put back online as it was the evening of Saturday May 2nd. You may notice gaps in the graphs from the past few days. They are a result of the system migration efforts.