Resources for the Washington DC area




2005 Tour of Solar Homes





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You can save up to  $100 per year with an easy to install programmable thermostat.

The 2005 Tour of Solar Homes showed some interesting new ideas are coming onto the market.

One home used an easy to install solar laminate from Uni-Solar. It's a photovoltaic system in the form of a thin flexible material that is rolled out onto the roof surface. It's self adhesive so the normal costs associated with metal frames are avoided. It must be applied to a metal roof, so it's suitable for some porch roofs and commercial buildings with metal roofs. This laminate took the homeowner about an hour to install. It produces about .5 kW (500 watts). Uni-solar also makes roofing shingles with PV capabilities.

metal porch roof with UNISOALR flexible solar laminate



A new type of collector for heating water is showing up. They're called evacuated-tube collectors.




Also in use was a fuel cell system that can produce up to 5 kW (kilowatts) from Plug Power. The only emissions these have are water. Four hydrogen canisters (similar to regular propane tanks in size) supply hydrogen to the unit. There's no noise. While these units are very expensive, hopefully they will come down in price.

Plug Power fuel cell



Another interesting piece of technology is a very intelligent battery backup system from GridPoint. There's no messy batteries exposed; everything's in a high tech looking steel case. The system is self monitoring, so if the unit stops working properly, it "phones home" to the GridPoint company, and the problem should be fixed before the next power failure occurs. These aren't cheap, but are top of the line in battery backup.

GridPoint battery backup


Several homes used passive solar design. The owners' utility bills tend to be quite low due to a thoughtful home design. Some designs used include, very thick outer walls, a southern exposure, lots of large windows on the south facing wall with minimal use of windows on north walls, and overhangs above windows to let direct sun in during the winter, but block it in the summer. Some of these homes tended to be a little smaller, so there was less space to heat and cool.





also: Solar Decathlon on the Mall, Oct. 7-16








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