Tag Archives: Photovoltaics

Small Scale Homebuilding

My interest in modular eco-friendly homes grew when I ran across some modular home companies at West Coast Green last year in San Francisco. That interest was pushed to the back of my mind until I ran across this story of a 16 year old building a self-contained “tiny green home” in his parents backyard because he, like most teenagers, “wanted to move out.”

That is not his only reason however. In this short video showcasing his house, the young man sites all sorts of economical and environmental reasons behind starting his project. 

He was happy about owning a home but not worrying about paying a mortgage. The small size also limits the amount of electricity and other utilities, saving money in the process. He was able to greatly reduce the amount of waste produced during construction due to the small scale of construction(he only had two trash cans of waste from one year of construction). Almost all of the materials used in construction have been reclaimed from salvage yards or donated from friends, the framing lumber was the only material purchased new as it was needed for the structure of the house. He estimates the total project costing $12,000.

This led me to asking the question: who is doing this on a larger scale? I rummaged through the internet and discovered many cool companies involved in the modular home business, and nearly all of them are focused on making their homes as efficient and eco-friendly as possible while keeping the associated costs for the consumer down(sections of the home are built in factories and loaded on a truck then assembled in a few days at the site – this allows the builder to reduce the cost of construction). Keywords and phrases that keep popping up when I search modular homes include: smart design, passive solar, simplify, healthy, water conservation, cheaper, solar, wind, thermal, easier, and flexible just to name a few. All of these terms are related to conservation and efficiency; Everyday we are told to be conservative with our resources in order to be more sustainable so why not become more conservative, economical, and efficient while building our homes. Here are some of the companies I discovered that are doing just that:

  • Alchemy Architects have designed the Weehouse using an ultra modern modular home that can be constructed fast and easy. They just developed a “net-zero” WeeHouse in Moab, Utah that will produce as much energy as it uses.
  • The modular homes featured at tinygreencabins.comcan be built on a trailer bed so that if you would like to take your home with you, you could hitch up the trailer and be on your way. They also offer non-toxic options, organic certified material, locally harvested lumber, steel framing, and recycled products. The cabins can also be customized with solar panels and solar hot water heaters.

    Wildfire Tiny House

  • Green Pod Development builds compact custom modular homes built for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainability. The SoloPod “features innovative designs and artful furnishings.”
  • And finally, Bluhomes, they claim that their “highly efficient, innovative steel-framed homes cost on average 50-70 percent less to operate on a monthly basis than conventional homes.”

    My personal favorite - The Glidehouse Bluhome

-T

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Filed under Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Sustainable Businiess, Uncategorized, USGBC, Water conservation, Weatherization, Window Coverings

Brand New Display for Dwell on Design

Here is a sneak peak of our new trade show display. Come see the full display in action at Dwell on Design, June 24-26 at the LA Convention Center. We will also be featuring our Emergency Power Kit for portable back-up energy when you need it most. http://plugnsaveenergyproducts.com/

 

Golden Brown PV Solar Cells in a Natural Basswood Shutter

Turkish Blue PV Solar Cells in an Arctic White Shutter

Army Green PV Solar Cells in an Oak Finished Shutter

Exterior PV Solar Shutter with an interior PV Solar Shutter in the window - A complete set-up!

Standard white PV Solar Shutter in our display piece

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Filed under Buy Local, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Green Technology, Innovation, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Weatherization, Window Coverings

When it Comes to Solar, We Now Have Choices

Golden Brown, Tile Red, Army Green, Turkish Blue, Stone Elegance, and True Steel… are these choices for your kitchen tile remodel or the latest options you have when producing solar energy?

One of the many perks of working in the renewable energy industry is that we are exposed to all sorts of new technology, like these awesome looking colored solar cells.

Clockwise from upper left: Golden Brown, Tile Red, Army Green, and Turkish Blue

As most of you know, our main product offering is the PV Solar Shutter – an interior plantation shutter that we outfit with PV solar cells in order to produce renewable energy (if you don’t know, now you know).

We have shown our shutter to many consumers and industry professionals and out of all the questions we hear, these two stand out: “how do those shiny blue solar cells look through the window?” and “Won’t these be an eyesore to people walking by the house?”

In order to put the consumers mind at ease we started looking at the Color Solar Cell or C-Cell from Lof Solar. They offer many different color options while still maintaining a high efficiency rating. The initial cells we received were rated between 14.3% – 15.7% efficiency. Lof states that their “colorized solar cells do not hamper conversion efficiency, and its design can be combined with exterior hues of buildings and houses, to enhance color coordination.”

This is exactly what we wanted to offer as an option for our PV Solar Shutter so consumers can match the color of their Solar Shutter with the exterior colors of their building. Until now, silicon solar cells are deep blue because it boasts the highest efficiency and is the most economical, but these new C-Cells do not hurt the conversion efficiency and the price is getting very close to being competitive with similar deep blue cells.

The Tile Red cells installed in some mahogany red shutter louvers

The main thing I’ve learned is that new solar cell technology is rolled out nearly everyday…just today I found a release stating that SunPower Corporation boasts cells that can achieve efficiency of 20% or more. This sets the world record for highest efficiency for commercially available solar cells.

Anyways, let us know if you stumble upon any other cool or interesting renewable energy news and happy power production!

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Filed under Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Renewable Energy, Solar, Supply Chain Management, Weatherization, Window Coverings