After we’ve done all we could to seal the envelope, provide air flow, and reduce consumption via the use of LED light bulbs and heat recovery pumps, we still have a big draw – air conditioning is energy intensive. How can we accomplish this? While other sections of the country can use geothermal or wind energy, the most available power source in this part of Florida is the sun. At the moment, the options for generating solar power are:
- Roof mounted flat panels (http://solarpanelsplus.info/result.php?Keywords=Solar%20Panels)
- Thin film glued between the seams of a standing seam metal roof (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKsOpDSRl50)
- Panels imbedded in flat roof tile (http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-9817188-54.html)
There are differences in costs and aesthetics. The standing seam metal roof looks appropriate in this beachside community. Either the mounted panels or the thin film works with such a roof. Since I objected to the “look” of a dozen or so panels mounted on my roof, we took a look at the thin film. This is an elegant system where the photovoltaics are glued between the seams and the hot water heating system runs under the metal roof. Very neat. The film is most efficient when in lengths of over nine feet. Unfortunately, the Folly has enough south facing sections that measure over nine feet to produce only 3.5 KW. We had already decided that we needed more than that. So this option was set aside.
The two remaining options were PV panels mounted on a metal roof and a tile roof with embedded PV. My aesthetic preference was for the tile but I wasn’t willing to ignore costs. As it turned out, the mounted panel system that produced 12 KW cost 15% more than the tile integrated panels. A happy day! The more pleasing option cost less!!! I could please both my eye and my bank account!