What's so special about the SOLARHOME?
When a car manufacturer releases a revolutionary new model that uses absolutely no petrol, gas, or oil, never has to be plugged in for charging, has an unlimited range, and simply requires a new battery every twenty years, it will be considered a game changer. This is essentially what the SOLARHOME is. There are plenty of 'sustainable' houses around, but look closely and you'll find they are all either connected to the grid and/or use diesel, petrol, gas, coal, or wood fires for heating, cooking, hot water, and backup generators. Greens Beach SOLARHOME is all-electric and has all the comfort, conveniences, and appliances expected of a modern home, yet is powered 100% by fully recyclable solar-charged batteries 100% of the time, throughout the year, even during a cold Tasmanian winter. It has zero emissions (direct or indirect), zero utility bills, and requires zero maintenance.
Will the power in the SOLARHOME drop out after a few days with no sunshine, and will we have to continually worry about turning off lights and appliances?
The off-grid power system for Greens Beach SOLARHOME has enough storage to last almost a week of normal usage with no solar input at all (which would never happen anyway, since the solar panels are efficient enough to have a significant input on overcast days). The batteries can safely cycle down to 30% state of charge, but in practice rarely drop below 80%, so are expected to last at least twenty years. Even if something drastic was done (like leaving the oven or an iron on for several days), the system will protect the batteries by shutting off power points while leaving lights and other essential items (the fridge and water pressure pump) still functioning. In practice, the power system has proven to be robust, maintenance free, and virtually fool-proof. It was designed and installed by award-winning Tasmanian company MODE Electrical at a cost of AU$50,000.
What did you learn from building the SOLARHOME prototype?
Firstly, I learnt that although it is possible to build a comfortable modern home that is totally off-grid and emission free, it needs a specially-designed ultra-low-energy house (costing at least 50% more than a normal house of equivalent size) that significantly reduces winter heating demand, on a site with good year-round all-day solar access, in a location with adequate solar irradiance throughout winter. And the fact is, only a small percentage of house sites satisfy this requirement. Plus it's practically impossible to convert existing houses or standard house designs into an ultra-low-energy design. Even more significantly, on further investigation, I discovered that there’s no irrefutable scientific evidence indicating that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have caused catastrophic climate change or are likely to do so in the future. Nor is there any evidence that, with current commercially-available technology, the modern world would be able to function without the majority of its energy coming from fossil fuels (or uranium). The evidence in favour of climate change alarmism appears to be based on a false claim of scientific consensus plus apocalyptic computer modelling predictions which over the past twenty years have turned out to be incapable of replicating reality. To explain my research and reasoning, I wrote a small book called A Layman's Guide to Climate Change: Good News at Last. It can be purchased on Amazon.
So if solar panels aren't really doing anything to ''save the planet'' is there any point building an off-grid solar-powered home?
There is if you live in a remote location with no grid available or a very expensive connection fee. Or if you just like the idea of having no power bills. And there certainly is if the government keeps insisting on connecting wind turbines and solar panels to an electricity grid with declining base-load power, which will continue to force up retail prices and reduce reliability. The Solarhome also happens to be remarkably quiet and comfortable, and it's great not having to worry about collecting firewood or paying power bills, no matter what the government does. If you're interested in purchasing detailed construction drawings and specifications for the Solarhome design, contact David Macfarlane at email@example.com.