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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Default Zero Energy Home in Florida

    Does anyone have any experience or advice about building a zero energy solar home in Florida?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    40

    Default Re: Zero Energy Home in Florida

    A friend of mine helped in building "green" homes in Arizona. But, I am not sure if they can quite pull off a zero-energy operation in a functional American home...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    3

    Default Re: Zero Energy Home in Florida

    Well thats exactly what I just joined to find out.

    I want to design and build in the next 5 years a house on Mobile Bay that is 100% off grid. There is plenty of sun here, and water is easily accesed, too, as most of the properties I'm looking at are agricultural and already have wells and leach fields. I would like more wind here, but you can't have everything.

    As for an American home being 100% off grid, I just saw an episode of "Living with Ed" that toured Jackson Brown's California home which is totally off grid. As well as being a pretty luxurious barn-style house, it's the first non-experimental self powered home I've seen.

    So the questions I have are:

    1. Home design/Plot planning. How best to design the house and orient it to best make use of solar energy and light without unnecesarily heating the house.

    2. Structural materials. What are the most efficient materials to build a 0-Energy home from? Concrete? Log/stone? Other?

    3. Isulation/Windows. What are the best types of insulation and energy efficient glass for a home?

    4. Energy supply sources. What is available in high-efficiency solar panels and wind generators? What other forms of power generation are available?

    5. Electrical power storage? Once the electricity is generated, how best to store it? Manage it?

    6. Hot Water. What is the most efficient method of heating water and storing heated water?

    7. What else should we know or consider?

    Cheers,
    Ted

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Zero Energy Home in Florida

    Here is a great article on pdf about two identical homes built in Lakeland, FL. One built traditionally, the other with a few efficientcy tricks--very few. The homes were monitored for four years and the efficientcy house showed 90% less grid usage than the traditional home.

    http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings.../37547_zeh.pdf

    Cheers!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Zero Energy Home in Florida

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted68 View Post
    So the questions I have are:

    1. Home design/Plot planning. How best to design the house and orient it to best make use of solar energy and light without unnecesarily heating the house.

    2. Structural materials. What are the most efficient materials to build a 0-Energy home from? Concrete? Log/stone? Other?

    3. Isulation/Windows. What are the best types of insulation and energy efficient glass for a home?

    4. Energy supply sources. What is available in high-efficiency solar panels and wind generators? What other forms of power generation are available?

    5. Electrical power storage? Once the electricity is generated, how best to store it? Manage it?

    6. Hot Water. What is the most efficient method of heating water and storing heated water?

    7. What else should we know or consider?

    Cheers,
    Ted
    My company just finished outfitting the electrical and automation for two homes in Jupiter, FL, so here's my answers based on my recent experience:

    1. Unless ground-mounting, you'll want plenty of roof space that is facing south to south-west. Having the roof-slope be between 4/12 and 5/12 for the best year-round average, unless you are installing a sun-tracking system (much more money for approximately 20% more gain). Also, when we installed, our county code dictated that no roof mounted object could be within 2' from any roof-edge, due to wind-load stress during high-winds; so check your county's codes and plan accordingly. Have any south and south-west facing windows deeply eved. This will keep solar radiation out of the home during the Spring/Summer/Fall months. During winter, with the sun low in the sky, you'll probably get a couple of hours of sun coming in those windows, but you don't really care about that during the cooler months.

    2. After looking at a couple of solutions, we went with e-wall out of Sarasota, FL. These are highly insulated and STRONG.

    3. I would highly recommend going with a sealed attic that uses isynene insulation. This method puts all of your AC duct-work in conditioned spaces. Add in a reflective metal-roof, and your AC won't have many opportunities to kick on. We like the 3M window film.

    4. Wind is probably not an option for Florida; at least it isn't for us in south Florida. On average, it is just too weak and erratic. For 4KW grid-tied PV systems, our install cost is between $8 and $8.20 per watt. However, for your off-grid installation with batteries, your cost will be much higher than that. Don't forget that Florida has a rebate program of $4/watt PV, and ?? for solar water, as well as a $2000 federal tax credit.

    5. I haven't looked into this too much, but you still pretty much have to use batteries (though is you set up a 20 ton fly-wheel in a vacuum chamber, let me know!). Use standard lead-acid batteries that are specified for marine or solar applications, as these can handle your deep discharge cycling better.

    6. I like the solar hot water system that Solar Energy Systems installs. The hot water storage is a double-lined highly insulated tank (80 or 120 gallon options), and the solar collector (4'x10'; 1 for the small system and 2 for the large system) uses its own PV panel to power the water pump that moves water between the water tank and the solar collector. The brighter the sun is, the faster the water moves between the collector and your water tank.

    Hope that helps,
    Aaron

  6. #6

    Default Re: Zero Energy Home in Florida


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