Solar power makes yard work clean and quiet
Gas-burning mowers, blowers, trimmers – they’re polluters of the first rank (and an aural blight rivaled only by the car alarm if you ask me). Cordless electric devices are available, but for a landscaping company moving from job to job, how would you possibly keep your equipment charged through a long day?
Madison Earth Care, a family-owned business founded by Bob Blundon, is showing the way. The Connecticut company has been featured on TV and in print recently for an innovative trailer adorned with solar panels. Three 327-watt panels turn the rig into a powerhouse for an arsenal of battery-powered landscaping devices.
The trailer was outfitted by a local company, Aegis Solar Energy, whose Chris Lenda told WTNH, “We put some panels on the roof of his trailer, and an inverter that turns that into alternating current, and just regular plugs in the trailer, and he can line up all his chargers, plug 'em in, and keep all his batteries charged up all the time.”
Sounds good when it’s sunny out (and the trailer isn't parked under some big tree). But what about in cloudy weather? We're not talking about Arizona here, after all. According to the Hartford Courant, the system has enough battery storage to get the crews through a couple of gray days of work.
Using the sun to power the equipment obviously yields big emissions benefits. And a Madison representative assured me that my own pet peeve – noisy yard-care gear – is largely mitigated by going with electric tools. In fact, she said the equipment is so quiet that Madison employees “don’t even have to wear hearing protection when using them.”
And there's this: “The electric weed eaters spin the opposite direction so they don't spray the user. They are also lighter weight. The combination of the spin, the weight, and the noise means that there is less user fatigue so we are actually able to get more done in a day!”
The Courant noted, too, that Madison's trimmers and blowers used to slurp up about $10 a day in gas. Now? Free sun, baby. A new propane mower has provided even further savings savings, reducing daily fuel cost from about $36 to $22.