My Solar Home Hybrids

My first solar home hybrid was in the NC mountains in 1995, on a 75-year-old, 1100-square-foot bungalow. The installation was a result of survival mixed with an interest in renewable energy (R/E). The area at that time was plagued with power outages from severe wind, snow, or electrical storms. So, I had a system which at the flip of a switch could power my home, as well as continuously power my refrigerator.  My system included 4 photovoltaic (PV) panels, 3 solar hot water panels, 8 “golf-cart” batteries, a 500- gallon Carolina water stove to boost heating the potable water and heat the home through coils in the furnace, a Solar Frost refrigerator, a Trace inverter, and a Morningstar controller. 

It was a complicated system, which kept me busy chopping and gathering wood while being ever-mindful of weather conditions and the battery storage status. Also, its downfall was the circulating water from the Carolina water stove did not contain antifreeze.  In spite of the R/E features upon sale of the house, all of them were removed within a year or so by my buyer.

Here in Wisconsin, I have a 100-year-old, 1400-square-foot home with a conservatory.

My system has 15 second-generation ground- and roof-mounted PV panels with micro inverters, with an integrated control system that could support the installation of an EV charger, through Enphase monitoring and supply. I’m currently considering a battery back-up for certain zones in my home because of anticipated brown-outs and severe weather outages, as experienced in the aftermath of a recent tornado.

Both of my homes have been informative.  I’ve learned to appreciate every kilowatt hour I’ve been able to produce.  My annual net zero energy demand results from conservation and working with the weather. I’m impressed by the progress in R/E. My first installation could not provide energy to my computer, because it did not produce a modified Sine wave energy.  I’ve recently been informed that the next generation of PV panels will be capturing energy at night from temperature conversion!  It is exciting to be a participant in this movement.

To learn more from owners of R/E in your area, mark your calendar for the first weekend of October for the Annual Solar Tour sponsored by the ASES (American Solar Energy Society), which has been occurring since 1996. Currently, sites from last year’s locations are mapped on the  ASES site, but after mid-September, you will be able to see local tourist sites.  I will also be highlighting my village’s local tour on this site.

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