More on zero net energy projects

Over the past couple of weeks I have had posts on zero net energy homes. I posted a wild idea for integrated wind power, talked about how to calculate energy output from solar arrays, looked at costs and power consumption for house hold devices. Then I was out running this weekend and I started to consolidate all the ideas.

Building a home with integrated wind power is a big project and does not help any of the people who already have homes. Current home owners can mount solar arrays, but what if you could buy the whole works in a simple add-on that you could build yourself, or purchase pre-assembled.

I’m thinking about a unit that would sit along the ridge of your existing roof line, would

Handy Home Products - Large Cupola - Fits 12 Feet Wide Buildings - 18816-9 - Home Depot Canada

have a solar panel roof, integrated wind generator and all of the circuitry to back feed the grid. The structure I am thinking of is sometimes called a cupola.

The cupola could contain batteries to buffer power or employ any of the other methods we previously discussed for energy storage. For those of you who missed the earlier post, we talked about storing energy in a spring, as compressed air or by lifting a weight (Kinetic).

Cupolas can be quite decorative and home owners could have more than one to both balance the look of their home and provide more energy output. Cupolas often have decorative weather vanes.

Imagine this cupola on the right with solar panels for a roof and an integrated wind generator instead of the windows.

We have talked about generating power but one of the things we  have not elaborated on is back-feeding. Back feeding is what happens when you generate enough power to send

some power back into the electrical grid. Special circuits are required to connect your generated power to the grid. These circuits are commonly referred to as Grid-tie inverters.

Wikipedia’s definition :

A grid-tie inverter (GTI) or synchronous inverter is a special type of power inverter that converts DC into AC and feeds it into an existing electrical grid. GTIs are often used to convert direct current produced by many renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or small wind turbines, into the alternating current used to power homes and businesses. The technical name for a grid-tie inverter is “grid-interactive inverter”. Grid-interactive inverters typically cannot be used in standalone applications where utility power is not available. During a period of overproduction from the generating source, power is routed into the power grid, thereby being sold to the local power company. During insufficient power production, it allows for power to be purchased from the power company.

There are number of companies that manufacture GTI’s which come in both residential and commercial flavors.

Aurora PVI-OUTD-USAurora manufactures a number of different units available in Canada. The price varies based on the amount of power that will be generated. These units could be installed in the cupola or installed in the home next to the electrical panel. The Aurora units are actually quite stylish.

The table below describes the options.

Model Output Input Dimensions
Aurora-3.0 3000-240 VAC 160-530 VDC 31.9” x 12.8” x 8.3”
Aurora-4.2 4200-240 VAC 140-530 VDC 31.9″ x 12.8″ x 8.3″
Aurora-5.0 5000-240 VAC 150-530 VDC 31.9″ x 12.8″ x 8.3″
Aurora-10.0 10000-208 VAC 220-470 VDC 31.9″ x 12.8″ x 8.3″
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One Response to More on zero net energy projects

  1. Isaac Kliener says:

    this has been thought of all ready. there were a number of companies in Michigan that divided up the task – one for solar panels call Energy Conversion Devices and another for energy storage call Cobasys. i believe both companies are out of business today. problem is that converting solar energy to electricity comes with a price tag of about $0.15 per kilowatt hour (I get electricity from Edison for about half that) and the second solar problem is that it dark out for a period every single day which makes the energy storage system a must. these storage system are extremely expensive. the further North you travel the amount of sunlight decreases proportionally.

    best “renewable” energy is geothermal. it is always there. the only problem is that you have to have the land around the site to install it. my cousin did the analysis and has installed geothermal with a 9 year payback.

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