Analysis Sees Little Benefit in Off-Grid Economics

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in grid-tied

Despite falling prices for photovoltaic (PV) panels and cheaper and the prospect of more efficient battery storage on the horizon, it usually makes more sense to stay connected to the grid than to cut ties completely, a new report published in the journal Energy Policy says. The authors, Rajab Khalilpour and Anthony Vassallo of the University of Sydney in Australia, write that in most cases a better choice than leaving the grid entirely is to minimize the amount of purchased electricity by installing "an optimized size" PV / battery system.

How Would You Insulate My New House?

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in ground-source heat pump

Nik Fiorito is grappling with the same issues every owner/builder eventually confronts: What's the best way of insulating a new house? Only in Fiorito's case, it gets a little more complicated. First, he's building in Climate Zone 7, forty minutes north of the U.S.-Canadian border, on a hilltop where the temperature averaged 3 below zero F (-19.6 degrees C.) this past February. He's also considering a fully off-grid photovoltaic (PV) system plus a ground-source heat pump for both heat and domestic hot water.

An Off-Grid Solar Community

Posted on April 18,2015 by AjahnSona in insulating shutter

Birken Forest Monastery is a retreat center in the mountains of British Columbia. It's located at an elevation of 4,000 feet at Latitude 51, and experiences about 9,000 heating degree days (Fahrenheit) per year. The buildings are about 15 years old. We are off the grid. The nearest electricity line is 4 miles away, and it would cost about $200,000 to bring grid power in. (Then, of course, we would still have to pay for the electricity.) So off-grid it is, and will remain.

Are Solar-Plus-Battery Systems Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in battery

Solar-plus-battery systems that combine photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion batteries are helping a number of commercial electricity customers cut their power bills, but any widespread spillover to the residential side of the market looks to be some time away. Two solar installers, SolarCity, and SunPower, are offering the systems to residential customers, yet the numbers in the pilot programs are very modest.

Shades of Green: the 1970s vs. the Millennial Generation

Posted on April 18,2015 by Ecovrn in 1970s

Recently a friend asked for help in designing an off-grid house. Interestingly, I pulled out the old books from the '70s to show as examples and inspiration. We tagged a combination of ideas: an earth berm house, a passive solar house, an attached greenhouse buffer space, a solar thermal system, and a stack effect heating/cooling system incorporating a heat sink (southern rock exposure) and a cool northern forest glen. It all seemed so — natural …

Passivhaus Practitioners Share Their Success Stories

Posted on April 18,2015 by user-756436 in Adam Cohen

A group of about 130 designers, builders, and Passivhaus fans gathered at U Mass Boston on October 27, 2012 to attend a one-day conference organized by Passive House New England. It's impossible for this report to be comprehensive, unfortunately, and I won't be able to do justice to all of the conference events. My report will focus on three speakers: Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, and Roger Normand.

How to Live Comfortably Off the Grid

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in grid-connected

UPDATED: 1/3/11 with expert opinions from Mark Sevier and Peter Yost

Chris Koehn will be building a 1,600-sq.-ft. home in British Columbia for owners who want to heat primarily with wood. They envision a wood-burning cookstove and a fireplace, and they'd also like to incorporate some solar capability. Because of its island location, the house will be off the electricity grid.

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