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October 26, 2011 - In these days of increasing costs for utilities, consumers are looking for ways to decrease their energy consumption and save a little money.

Oxford Township resident Bob Warnke has already added insulation and energy efficient windows to his home on Crestmoor Circle in an effort to lower the cost of his monthly gas bill.

Now Warnke is going for the energy saving trifecta as he watched Toldeo, Ohio based Xunlight Corporation install 22 solar panels on the roof of his residence during the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 21.

Xunlight is installing their patented amorphous silicon thin-film solar panels that are designed to be flexible and lightweight. According to the company's website, the solar panels are produced utilizing a thin stainless steel substrate and flexible lamination polymers, which equate to a thickness of less than 1.5 millimeters.

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Their products are roughly three times lighter than rigid glass based PV (photovoltaic) modules, which means they can easily be installed on rooftops that may not be able to take the weight of glass modules and their support structures without the need for costly roof reinforcement modifications.

According to Brad Mohring, an Applications Electrician for Xunlight, the product can be cut into several lengths and sizes, from a three foot wide by 20 foot length all the way down to a battery charger.

"This is what we call our flagship," Mohring said of the XR Series, which was being installed at Warnke's residence. "It's a three foot by six foot and we also have a three foot by 20 foot, but like I said we can make it any size in-between depending on what the project is."

Warnke said he found out about Xunlight through his company Warnke Tool.

"We make machinery that allows them to produce these panels," Warnke explained. "We got hooked up with them (and) I went down and talked to Brad, who is their contact, and mentioned to them I would like to have it on my house someday."

Warnke explained even though Xunlight usually only works with major corporations, his project would require enough solar panels for two kilowatts.

"They did the engineering on that and I got two contractors and away we go," Warnke said.

According to Warnke, the type of solar panels he is installing will feed back into the power grid. If he is using less power than the panels produce, the extra generated electricity will go back into the power grid.

If he is using more than the solar panels generates, the panels will act as a supplement to the power grid.

"The solar panels produce so much power. If you had two light bulbs on in the house and the sun was out, the panels would be producing more power than those two light bulbs would absorb, and the rest of the power would go back into the grid," Warnke explained.

"If you had your stove on and half a dozen light bulbs and these were producing less power, they would supplement the power to those units and then, of course, it wouldn't go back into the grid at that point," he added.

Warnke feels solar energy will become more popular in the future.

"Well, it is coming stuff. People say it will never happen, but if there is enough if it around and it gets inexpensive enough, it will become real popular," he said.

"Right now it is already cheaper than it was five years ago, and every year it gets less expensive to produce the panels. So it will get more and more attractive to everybody," Warnke added.

According to Warnke, he will receive a 30 percent government tax rebate on the cost of installing his solar energy system.

"Next year, (Detroit) Edison is supposed to bring their rebates back, and if that happens, there is another reduction through Detroit Edison," Warnke said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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