Page B1.1 . 20 February 2008                     
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    Photovoltaic Home System

    by Rik DeGunther

    Installing a full-scale intertie photovoltaic (PV) system on a home is the king of solar investments. To allow good time for decision-making, expect the entire process to take 90 days or more. With a really serious focus on conserving and altering energy consumption patterns, expect the process to take six months.

    Here's a list of the things that need to be done:

    1) Perform an energy audit and take conservation steps. Before you even get started on a solar system, you need to figure out exactly how much energy is being used and where it's going. This is particularly important when you're signing up for a time-of-use (TOU) rate structure because you'll be able to glean a lot of little insights on how to use power differently at different times of the day.

    Some states require an energy audit before you can buy a solar system. California is making this a requirement if you want to collect their sizable rebate.

    2) Decide how much to invest and how to finance it. During the course of the energy audit you collect a lot of financial information regarding energy costs and how they accrue in your household. You must also collect cost and performance estimates for PV systems, including the following:

    • PV system costs, lifetimes, expansion potentials, warranty, and so on. The best bet is to call contractors and have a preliminary conversation about these issues. They'll know all the rebates, subsidies and tax credits because it helps them sell systems. They'll come to your house and be very nice about assisting you because they know this is a big investment.   >>>

      Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

      This article is excerpted from Solar Power Your Home For Dummies by Rik DeGunther, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.



    ArchWeek Image

    The "bio-solar" house in Bangkok, Thailand, by Soontorn Boonyatikarm, employs an on-grid photovoltaic (PV) system.
    Photo: Soontorn Boonyatikarm

    ArchWeek Image

    Rooftop photovoltaic arrays can be added to virtually any home.
    Photo: Kyocera Solar, Inc.


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