When it comes to building a zero-net energy building or a near-zero net energy building, there is no greater resource available to facilitate this than the big ball of fire in the sky that lights up planet earth.
According to the University of Tennessee, by the time the sun’s energy travels 93,000,000 miles to our planet’s upper atmosphere, the energy density of that light and radiation is 1,368 watts per square meter. By the time it reaches Earth’s surface, the energy density is 1,000 W/m2 for a surface that the sun beams down on at sea level on a clear day.
The UTIA goes onto explain that if all the sunlight energy striking the Earth’s surface in Texas could be converted to electricity, it would be up to 300 times the total power output of all the power plants in the world!
With so much potential for solar, it wasn’t hard for my wife and I to decide that we definitely wanted solar panels to be an integral part of our project. I plan on harnessing as much of the sun’s power as I can for my new eco-friendly home.
On the southwest-facing rear of our home, I have been planning from the beginning to install 42 solar panels onto the roof - 42 is about the number we can fit onto the roof without sacrificing other features of the home or altering the framing/insulation plans. With these solar panels, we should be able to offset a great deal of our energy usage and save some money on our electricity bills.
Before we really begin the framing and wall construction processes, I want to make sure I know how to maximize our use of the sun as it relates to our home's positioning. So for this episode, I brought in one of the most knowledgeable professionals who I know of on this subject. George Keithan of Consulting Engineering Services has a great deal of experience working on projects that involve renewable energy, and his advice on how best to proceed will be a essential addition to my project.
I’m looking forward to working with George as the project moves forward — his knowledge and expertise is definitely a key part of my homebuilding journey.