HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A portable classroom at Waianae High School is cooled by air conditioning that's powered by photovoltaic panels.
"They're cool. They're reliable. It's really making learning happen more effectively," principal Disa Hauge said.
The Department of Education installed the PV AC as a pilot project.
"We wanted to make sure it was proven," DOE Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson said. "At times it does pull electricity.
The sun goes behind a cloud, we want to continue with the AC running. At that point our electricity kicks in.'
PV expert Michael Ida said a system like Waianae's costs about $8,000 and operates at a fraction of the electricity cost of conventional AC.
"It would use approximately ten percent of what a normal split AC unit would be to cool that same size classroom," he said.
Ida works with Maui Solar Project. He said PV AC doesn't feed electricity back into the grid, so permitting isn't a problem.
"You don't have to file any NEM agreement with HECO because the panels are not tied through the grid," he said.
PV AC is an option for DOE as it tries to cool more classrooms.
"We don't see PV AC as the end all to end all. By no means is it going to be that. In certain areas, like a portable for example where the installation is easy it may make sense," Carlson said.
Within a few months the DOE will install a PV AC system on a portable classroom at Campbell High School.