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Solar-Panel 'Skin' May Be Future of Sustainable Home

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Daniyal_Ali
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More Details Please
Daniyal_Ali   3/14/2014 7:50:37 AM
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Looks amazing Liz. But what are the technical and financial aspects of this idea? Would it be economical for the houses to switch to this idea instead of the already present mounting methods? And what is the efficiency of these modules?
Yes, it does look beautiful and doesn't require modifications to the building's infrastructure but would this also be cost effective and technically viable.
I guess a lot of questions will be answered in the Solar Decathlon this year. Do share the details if you are able to attend that.

Elizabeth M
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Re: More Details Please
Elizabeth M   3/17/2014 5:43:02 AM
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I think there is a lot of information on the project site, Daniyal, but I am sure more will be revealed at the competition. At this point I don't think I can go, but if I do I will be sure to reveal more details and report more on innovative projects like this.

Zippy
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Re: More Details Please
Zippy   3/17/2014 9:32:23 AM
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The site mentions additional insulation for the "cold" side of the house, which is in some way adjustable.  That would be interesting to learn about as well.

 

By the way, the "t" was omitted from Delft in several places, which is the name of the university and the city.

Elizabeth M
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Re: More Details Please
Elizabeth M   3/18/2014 4:38:05 AM
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Hi, Zippy, thanks for your comment and I'm aware of the typo in the name of the university and city. Hopefully that will be fixed, and sorry about that!

I think the project website has a lot more details than the article about the project. Hopefully that can give you the information you're looking for.

78RPM
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A Seismic Shift Coming?
78RPM   3/14/2014 12:14:50 PM
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Thank you, Elizabeth for updating us on creative thinking around the world. It is my hope that American coal and oil companies begin to reinvent themselves to prepare for the seismic shift in energy sources.  They should think of themselves as energy companies, not oil and coal companies. If they don't, they may go the way of Kodak, having a heartbeat but not as the great companies of yore.

Many political battles will dissolve in the new reality of sustainable living at market demand prices. Some people I know in Montana are able to live off the grid with home-brew energy systems. Just think what a professionally engineered home could become. This is a great time for engineers who are re-inventing the future.

Elizabeth M
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Re: A Seismic Shift Coming?
Elizabeth M   3/17/2014 5:18:26 AM
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You are very welcome, 78RPM, and I agree, thinking about energy has to change, and I think it is changing thanks to forward-thinking engineers and contests like this that have been going on for awhile to try to find innovative and sustainable ways to create energy for homes. I think we are at a critical time right now in terms of energy creation and the evolution of energy sources, but with all the interest and research in wind, solar and other creative means of energy-harvesting, people are beginning to catch on.

Elizabeth M
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Re: A Seismic Shift Coming?
Elizabeth M   3/17/2014 5:18:27 AM
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You are very welcome, 78RPM, and I agree, thinking about energy has to change, and I think it is changing thanks to forward-thinking engineers and contests like this that have been going on for awhile to try to find innovative and sustainable ways to create energy for homes. I think we are at a critical time right now in terms of energy creation and the evolution of energy sources, but with all the interest and research in wind, solar and other creative means of energy-harvesting, people are beginning to catch on.

Greg M. Jung
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Retrofit
Greg M. Jung   3/14/2014 10:12:01 PM
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I'm impressed with the idea to retrofit these older, less-efficient houses with a solar upgrade.  Hopefully the cost and payback time will be attractive so that this type of technology can advance.

Daniyal_Ali
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Re: Retrofit
Daniyal_Ali   3/16/2014 3:57:20 AM
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True Greg.  Nowadays people having the know-how of Solar Power and its advantages are trying to use building integrated modules in the construction of the structure, but the real problem comes in applying this technology to already present buildings.
It's very difficult to install the modules on the older buildings as they were built before the emergence of Solar Modules. I think this retrofitting could come in handy in providing solar power to these older constructions.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Retrofit
Elizabeth M   3/17/2014 5:07:13 AM
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Yes, Greg, I agree, it is  one thing to design a new house with solar panels and make it more sustainable and energy efficient, but it is quite interesting and a different challenge to take post-war construction and make it more modern and sustainable. An interesting project, to be sure!

fm
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Re: Retrofit
fm   3/17/2014 1:06:10 PM
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Personally, i find it interesting that whenever renewables are discussed, the biggest word in the room is "payback." That term is pretty rare in other circles. Does anyone ever discuss the "payback" in complete terms when flattening a city block to reconstruct better buildings in the same spot?

Really, the additional cost of the "skin" in this case should be compared not to its direct "payback," (the cost of the skin vs the energy cost saved) but to the cost of razing and reconstructing these buildings with modern passive and active energy management solutions. I'm guessing that this could be an economical solution in certain situations.

Clever and innovative!

Elizabeth M
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Re: Retrofit
Elizabeth M   3/18/2014 4:45:34 AM
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That is an excellent point, fm! It seems that people who want to use renewables or companies/engineers offering new renewable-energy solutions always have to justify the technology. But as you point out, that isn't true for every project or technology that's been devised in the past, and in some cases it should be. I appreciate your comment and hope it gets people thinking.

Battar
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Re: Retrofit
Battar   3/17/2014 9:21:28 AM
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I have a solar water heater on my roof. Everyone in my neighborhood has one. They are cheap (about 800$), simple, and amazingly efficient. The will to invest a little to save energy in many parts of the world just doesn't seem to be in place yet.

Greg M. Jung
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Re: Retrofit
Greg M. Jung   3/17/2014 10:13:06 AM
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Battar, can you please advise for the $800 investment, how fast was your payback based upon the actual savings that you realized?  (less than 2 years?).

Battar
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Re: Retrofit
Battar   3/17/2014 10:42:25 AM
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Greg,

       Electricity at $0.18 KW/H, water heater 2.5KW in use 2 hours a day, solar energy alternative 270 days/year (I said efficient), ROI after 3.5 years, solar heater lifetime 8 years at least. Thats assuming 5 showers daily (3 grubby little boys) + washing up with hot water.

Of course, if it's just the 2 of you the calculations are different.

Charles Murray
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Re: Retrofit
Charles Murray   3/17/2014 5:31:54 PM
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Battar, do you need batteries for that set-up? If so, what kind? Are they expensive?

Battar
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Platinum
Re: Retrofit
Battar   3/18/2014 5:00:09 AM
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Charles, there is a 20$ heating element in the storage tank for use on rainy days.

Just google solar water heater and you will see the setup.

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