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Solar Power

NOLS on the Road Declares Energy Independence: Solar Power

The bus is rigged with solar panels to power our audio/visual equipment, lights, computers and refrigerators. There are eight solar panels on the bus' roof, and these produce electricity that is stored in batteries inside the bus. An inverter changes the voltage for different appliances—fans and interior lights run on a 12-volt system, while everything else runs on 110 volts.

The system, of course, depends on the sun, but even on a cloudy day the bus can collect solar energy. The batteries can store up to two days of power—even more if used conservatively. This comes in handy when the bus is parked inside convention centers at conferences, sometimes for three or four days.

Solar power is becoming a popular solution to meet our energy needs right at home. The same system installed on the NOLS Bus is used in many homes and offices.

The NOLS Bus' custom system was designed by a local Wyoming business run by NOLS instructors--Creative Energies, suppliers of solar and wind energy solutions to homes and businesses around the West.

The NOLS Solar-Powered Theater

Each evening the movie screen comes down and the projectors come out as the NOLS solar-powered theater comes to life. Powered entirely by solar energy collected during the day, the NOLS theater features the NOLS movie, “The Expedition,” sneak previews of the upcoming NOLS television series, and NOLS alumni expedition slide shows.

Solar-Powered Information Stations

Inside the bus three computer stations, a DVD player and TV provide more information about NOLS, alternative energy and wilderness. Entirely powered by solar energy, the NOLS bus illustrates the school's educational message of environmental protection, whether in far off wild places, or right on the road.

 
Staff from Creative Energies in Lander, Wyoming installed new solar panels on the roof of the NOLS Bus in August 2006.
Photo: Curtis Tronolone
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