Too many, when they think of residential solar they think of residential solar panels attached to a roof. While this is true, it is just part of many factors that need to be considered in making a ‘green home’ a solar home.
Certainly the first factor to consider is the region of the country in which you live. There are maps which demonstrate relative solar radiation (on a simple scale of one to six) to determine the benefit of solar energy. There are also maps that indicate heating and cooling days and the challenges of a particular region for your green needs.
Next, the construction of the home and its positioning on the property is a factor. During the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is less direct, traveling more along the southern horizon. Positioning the home so that there is greater exposure facing south logically allows more use of the sun’s light and heat.
One may not think of a four-season porch when one thinks of residential solar but these can be used precisely for this purpose. Aside from just the aesthetic value, the greenhouse effect of this area can be used to generate residential solar heat for the home. With well-placed ceiling fans or other assists to ventilation, this “free” heat can be harnessed for the rest of the house. With the use of high-quality glass and construction, these porches can also be insulated against heat loss to a great degree. And with further installation of blind or shade systems, this heat can be lessened in the summer months when it is not needed as part of your residential solar system.
Residential solar in a ‘green home’ can then expand into the realm of photovoltaic cell panels atop the roof but can also include the use of solar collectors to heat water. Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sun energy by way of silicon cells into small electric current which can then be stored in batteries to provide electricity for the home. Solar collectors usually use a water filled system in a series of long, black boxes to absorb the heat from the sun. This warm water, in turn, can be used to supply heat or hot water to the green home.
The use of environmentally friendly insulation, windows and construction techniques as well as attention to air flows within the structure all figure in to the truly ‘green’ residential home. Residential solar is a sound idea whose time has come.