Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Solar Sightings No. 7--More solar in Berkeley

Hey solarDwellers:

It's the hide-and-seek solar house(yet another solar pv system in Berkeley, CA). Some solar owners, or possibly because of building codes, install their panels so they're invisible from the street. You probably know my take on that, future solarDwellers: don't hide them. Show them off! Besides, new panels are sleek and cool looking. They always impress neighbors. You can help people catch the green energy fever.
But, let's take a walk a little South on this street, and, yes, there are those panels, visible from the side of the house. I counted about 24 pv panels, so, at least 2400 watts(2.4 kW). So, they can show off after all. Although, I do admit this metallic mounting structure holding the panels is pretty funky looking. Not as sleek as panels that are installed flush to the angle of the roof. Interesting that this structure is almost horizontal(tilted very little) and facing in the West direction.

I found out why when a neighbor told me that his trees created quite a bit of shadow on the South side of this solar house. In fact, due to "solar access laws" the neighbor had to do a little tree trimming to give the solar panels their due exposure to the sun. What an environmental irony: chop down the trees to let the sun shine on the silicon. I'll just leave this conundrum with the word . . . controversial. There could be a case, for example, in a hot climate for having very tall shade trees to the west and south of the house. The shade helps decrease air conditioning use, which is better than trying to power your AC without any shade, even if powered by solar. Gotta look at each house and energy profile case by case and come up with the best overall energy solution.

--the solarDweller
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1 comment:

Beach_Road said...

A horizontal and westerly orientation, while not optimal, will still produce significant energy. More serious is the issue of shading. The shadow of one branch across a solar panel or across an entire array can significantly reduce energy production. Shading to reduce household energy loads such as air conditioning can be accomplished with low-E/argon type glazing or by applying sun-control or other types of reflective film to the inside of windows.