From the July 2011 Bright-Minded Home column in Maine Home + Design:
Having lived in one of Maine’s older solar homes for 17 years now, William Lord and his wife like to refer to themselves as “solar groundhogs,” watching for the sun each morning to power their home. The solar panel-covered south-facing roof of their home, which was designed by architect Steven Strong and built by Tim Spang, generates both hot water and electricity.
Q: What have been the best benefits of your solar setup?
A: The solar thermal panels, which provide hot water for domestic use and radiant floor heat, have paid for themselves already, and our home requires just a small amount of propane for backup heat in the winter. The other half of the roof consists of a 4.2 kilowatt photovoltaic array that on a sunny day generates more electricity than we use, exporting that surplus to the grid, which we draw from at no cost at night and on cloudy days. Our monthly electric bill is less than $8 during late spring through early fall.
Q: Are there any systems or products you’ve found less useful than others?
A: The only weak link we had in the system was in the early 1990s when the inverters, which convert DC electricity from the panels into AC household current, were less dependable. Today our inverters are smooth, cool, and reliable.
Q: Are there any new technologies out there you’d like to try?
A: Both of our systems work seamlessly without “adult supervision” required from my wife or me, so we do not, at this juncture, see any new technologies that will replace others or significantly enhance our home. Come see it for yourself during Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s Green Buildings Open House Tour on Saturday, October 1, 2011.
Learn more at solarhouse.com.