June 27, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Patrol to save money, energy with solar panels

Maria Kacik | The Gazette

COLUMBUS — Some newly purchased technology will allow the Ohio Highway Patrol to save money and energy in its 1,150 cruisers statewide — even when they’re turned off.

Five-watt solar panels soon will be installed at the rear deck of the cars at all posts. The panels will be wired directly to the cruiser’s battery and will convert solar energy into power for the vehicle, an OHP spokeswoman said Thursday.

She said the technology will allow troopers to turn off cars when they’re on stationary patrol or at accident scenes. While the cruiser is off, the panels will power the troopers’ radios and other electronic equipment and prevent the battery from dying.

The spokeswoman did not have an estimate of how much the $36.99 panels could save on gas and maintenance expenses.

“We’re going to save money,” said Lt. Josh Swindell, commander of the Medina post of the OHP.

The panels are scheduled to be installed sometime next month, he said.

“We run so much power off our car due to electronics,” Swindell said.

Cruisers currently go through three batteries in their lifetime — a few years with the patrol. With the new panels, he said he expects them to go through only one.

In addition, Swindell said the panels will take some stress off the cars’ alternators, which occa-sionally have to be replaced.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.