Solar Power and Modular Homes: Your Questions Answered

December 04, 2015

Written by
Lester Raikes

Solar-Power-and-Modular-Homes.jpgGoing solar is one of the most positive steps toward owning a truly eco-friendly home. Whether your reason is to reduce utility bills or your environmental impact, deriving power from the sun’s energy can deliver in more ways than one.

But what about when it comes to modular home building? Can you incorporate solar designs without sacrificing design or practicality? And what are the benefits and drawbacks of going down this path?

Let’s take a look.


The Hows and Whys of Solar 

The first and most obvious thing we usually think of when it comes to solar energy is the solar panels. Strategically placed on a rooftop they can supplement grid electricity to power general appliances and heat water.

Even if your location isn’t subject to an abundance of sunny conditions, natural daylight in overcast conditions can generate enough electricity through solar panels to keep your home powered and warm.

Modular home building has the added benefit of utilising passive solar design elements. These are design steps taken pre-construction that don’t necessarily require the use of solar panels, yet achieve similar results.

For example, positioning common rooms directly in the path of the low winter sun can deliver naturally sourced heat. Certain fixed and non-fixed shading apparatus can have the opposite effect, keeping the sun off certain parts of the home in summer to retain cooler temperatures.

Aside from the huge savings in power bills, both solutions contribute to the reduction of emissions and our reliability on fossil fuels to power our homes. These solutions will increase with importance as time goes on.

So – is it all clear skies from here?


Some Things to Consider with Solar

Solar power has a huge amount of benefits when done correctly.But to get the right system for you and to make sure the installation is done right there are a few things you will need to consider.

The initial set up can be costly as the outlay for a solar system that includes panels can be expensive. However, these costs are re-couped over a number of years thanks to the savings on your power bills.

The power you generate from solar can be intermittent so your solar system may generate too much power in the summer months and not enough in winter. In this case you may still require some form of grid power when the stockpiles run low unless you opt for a battery storage system.

If you opt to store solar energy you’ll need to find room for the solar battery storage system. Depending on the manufacturer, this may take up more space than first planned.

Can Everyone Take Advantage of Solar?

If you are thinking of adding solar to an existing home be sure to get expert advice on the best system and design for you. Whether building a modular or conventional home, this can be addressed in the planning stage to ensure you get the most out of your system and incorporate the benefits of passive solar design too.

However, there will be times where the use of active or passive solar just doesn’t fit your needs, and in certain scenarios it may not be possible.

For example - if your neighbour has a huge multi-story house that casts a shadow on your house for the majority of a summer day or your site is located in a built up area that is full of sun blocking structures and natural features. In these situations passive and active solar principles just aren’t going to offer much, if any, advantage.

There are also situations where the design of your home may not suit a rooftop solar system, meaning further land area in your backyard or elsewhere will need to be used.

Dwellings built within the absolute confines of their boundaries may not be able to accommodate a non-rooftop solar panel system.

But for the majority of homes, solar energy can be successfully incorporated into the existing design. And if you’re building you have the added benefit of including passive solar design features too.


Does That About Wrap it Up?

The pros of a solar powered home definitely out-weigh the cons. Whether you opt for an entirely off the grid, battery stored power solution, or choose to supplement with grid power, the key is to get the balance right.

Coupled with passive home design, it is well within your reach to achieve a true solar solution whether in a conventional home or a modular.

By taking advantage of the sun’s power and converting it, or retaining its heat and light properties, it’s possible to make everyday living with solar every bit as comfortable as living with traditional energy methods.

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