Super insulating construction
materials should be used whenever possible. The more energy
efficient the home is, the less overall power it will need to draw
from any source. I offer a personal energy consulting
service to provide specific information on making homes &
businesses as efficient as possible. LED lighting offers also considerable energy reduction.
There have been major advances in roofing materials.
The old tin roof has always been better for the FL climate, but
that tin roof has been advanced with insulating alloys that also
stand up better in windstorms & outlast wood shingle roofs by
The solarshield metal roof
fits in perfectly with my historical neighborhood. It is actually
what the historical board prefers I use. So that was a win - win
deal. They did make me change the look of the home to the old bungalow
style, different from the one in the picture, & wouldn't let
me do a few other things that would have been more efficient for
the home, but didn't fit in with the 'look' they demand for the
neighborhood. That's NOT smart growth in my opinion.
My first solar project was hot
water. My father & I built a solar hot water system into our
house when I was a kid, & I was fascinated by it.
They've come a long way since then. I 'm using a progressivtube
system which is passive. (plugs right into water tank). You do have
to note the weight the collector can reach when full. A large collector
can weigh up to 600 pounds, so make sure your roof can support it.
(Ground mounting is also possible).
The next project was designing
my photovoltaic system to power selected electrical systems &
trickle charge a battery array for emergency power to the fridge
should grid go down (as it often does here in the lightning capital
of the world). I've been using this
web site to learn about the tax
incentives I can get from Florida for using these technologies.
Of course there is solar power’s
nemesis. It goes by the name of 'night'. This is not the good knight
in shining armor, but the very black night that gives no quarter
& no photons. That’s why my house is an electric assisted
‘Hygrid’. I’ll remain tied to the grid so that
I can draw power when photon-less.
Under the new net metering system,
a solar PV system that generates more power than you use can be
sold back to the utility company at the going rate. My system sets
me up for this as well as to provide back-up power in a battery
The PV modules I’m using
are 24 volt modules in series strings connected to a pre wired charge
controller/inverter that ties into house's mains. The
extra money for the pre-wired system is saved in not having to pay
a pro to wire the several components needed to invert the solar
voltage from DC, wire it through a fuse box, send my excess out
to the grid & trickle charge
a back-up gel battery array.
I found angled P.V. panels that allow me to cover
the entire surface of my double pyramid roof & keep the historical
board happy by making it look pretty. You ideally should keep your
PV panels in series strings facing the same way to get the best
results; (differences in light intensity from cell to cell &
panel to panel is a classic problem of the technology [That's what
a practical solar car from being manufactured]).
The angle &
exposure of your panels is critical. Facing them due south at a
30 degree incline is a good default position (for anyone in the
northern hemisphere). You can get more exact by formulating an angle
based on your latitude & longitude. I’ll post my formula
after I get my GPS readings punched in.
Wiring it all up.
Connecting into the grid should be done by a
pro (unless you're like me, who thinks he knows enough about it
to do it himself. Don't risk your life! Call a pro! Many pros are
not yet up to date on this. You can refer your electrician to the
guidelines at the Interstate
Renewable Energy Council. Or
to use one of my distributor's affiliated installers, who specialize
top of next column
the basics of how solar P.V. works & the components I’m
using to do it.
Sunlight hits the P.V. cells where light (not
heat) is converted to electricity. The subsequent voltage is called
the photovoltaic [PV] effect; Click
here to see a video explanation of how solar cells convert photons
Solar heat energy is solar thermal & can be used used
for other applications like water heating or the nifty home heating
window boxes I'm building into my windows for the few weeks it actually
gets cold in Tampa. There's also a really trick solar oven I've
got my eyes on for when I cook for guests (I'm a happy raw food
vegetarian (except when @ Bern's Steak House here in Tampa. God
cooks my food with the sun. Ironically, I love the good ole' backyard
cookout. However My backyard B.BQ's will be a bit different than
the Jones's because of the solar oven I'll utilize.
Again, PV cells
convert photons to D.C. voltage & it travels through wire to
an inverter where it is changed to A. C. current (the standard in
U.S. households). There is an ever growing
variety of DC household appliances coming on the market that
are more efficient than standard AC appliances & allow you to
reap more power from PV arrays, because inversion is not needed.
I'd like to install a backup DC fridge /freezer
for assistance through hurricane seasons. Fortunately, the builder
I chose includes Energy Star appliances in his houses, & I think
he is to be commended for this. I am going to interview him for
a forthcoming article to help promote this idea among other builders.
I did some math on the environmental savings that could be reaped
if all new home builders did this. Just like with increasing mileage
standards for the auto industry, a little more efficiency goes a
long way in savings.
• Here's a note of 'karmic'
interest: NBC news reported today (9/27/05) that the amount of refined
fuel lost after hurricanes Katrina & Rita equals the amount
of fuel that would have been saved had our president stuck to the
planned auto industry mileage standards.
O. K. no political
interludes. I intend this site to be non-political & focus only
on solutions everyone can apply of their own free will. I just get
sensitive when people try to defy the immutable logic of math.
Back to our
solar P.V. system. Once the sunlight DC voltage is converted to
A. C. at the inverter, it is connected to the house mains through
a fuse box.
Excess power can flow through to the main out
of the house & be fed back to the grid. My home is now a ‘mini-tility’
that sells it’s excess electricity back to the electric company
at the current rates through the net metering system. Another meter
can be wired into the system to monitor outgoing electricity or,
I can watch my meter roll backwards when it is feeding the system.
SAVING POWER IS PATRIOTIC.
Don't just be a bumper sticker patriot.
enemy we fight. Note where they get their financial ability to wage
war from. Using foreign oil is like loading bullets into a kalachnikoff
pointed at yourself.
My next article,
entitled "My Bright Idea; - How To Combine Government &
Private Industry to Solarize America & Defeat Foreign Oil Cartel
Terrorism", came to me while going over the electrical diagrams
for connecting my house into the power grid. If you're on the
C2 mailing list, you'll get
that article next month. Betcha' can't wait. ;->
Sign up for my newsletter
to keep track of my progress as I contemplate adding wind &
other renewable tech. I will of course put up a wind gauge to measure
if an investment in wind is feasible for my area. My other big project
is to see how cool I can keep the home without powered A. C. I’m
looking through all my insulation options to see what I can get
my builder to go for. There is a new spray insulant that forms an
air tight seal for the entire house & several other new insulations
that cut A.C. costs dramatically.
I hope these
examples will help many to live at higher standards & with more
L.L.P.H (life, liberty & pursuit of happiness).
I will keep upgrading the solar
PV system with more modules & batteries until I reach a net
zero grid requirement for electricity.
Click HERE to
see the turnkey renwable energy systems I can provide you with to
get your home or business running on solar, hydrogen or wind without
you doing any of the work!.