Jerry Clark and his family have been keen and active environmentalists for many years now. Jerry has been working on a freelance basis for the Green Building Press for the last eight years and this has helped him research many green building products. In 2008, he decided that he should put the electrical consumption of their home on a more ecological footing, so he decided that the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the house was the best option. Here he describes the thinking behind the project and the practical aspects of the installation, along with early monitoring results.
This is a four page article. First published in April 2009
Shortly after moving to our current home in 2004 we installed a solar hot water system, and probably more significantly, converted the house heating system to run on wood. For many years I had been mulling over the possibility of installing some form of renewables to produce electricity. While living in Wales at the beginning of this millennium I was convinced that a wind turbine would be the answer for providing a large proportion of our power, and we had plenty of land there to enable the turbine to be located well away from obstructions to the wind flow. However, we had to move back to Cornwall for various family reasons before we got around to finalizing our decision.
For the first couple of years living in Cornwall I was still looking at the wind possibility - I think the attraction lies in the fact you can see your power being generated the boys toys scenario. On further investigation I ruled out the possibility of a turbine mounted on the building it would have meant having a fairly small machine, putting up with probable noise and vibration, and the likelihood that turbulence around the building would have led to poor performance. So I measured the garden to see how far away from the house I could place a mast. This turned out to be only 16m in the direction of the prevailing wind far too close to guarantee a good flow of wind. We would have needed a mast at least 15m high to take the turbine out of the ...
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