Hybrid Home Electric Plant - Clean solar power for a modern home of tomorrow would consist of three major components and a host of compatible appliances and electrical devices - solar panel array, battery, and generator set. In the United States, the average 2250 square feet family home uses 875 kWh of electricity each month.
A 6 kW solar array with 24 panels and requiring less than 500 sq. ft is capable of producing 100% of the electricity for an average home centrally located in America - including air conditioning. Solar panels are simple devices made of silicon, sand, and aluminum with no moving parts. A solar panel converts light energy directly to electricity. Solar panels typically have a 10 year warranty, 30 year performance guarantee, and can be expected to operate for 50 years - before being fully recycled. Solar panels produce power in sunny, partly cloudy, partly sunny, and light cloudy conditions during daytime hours. It is only during heavy cloudy associated with extreme rain and snow storms that power output falls to zero - and at nighttime, of course, when you are sleeping and not using electricity.
The battery stores solar electricity for use during nighttime hours and extended periods of heavy clouds. Advances in traditional battery technology and alternate electro-chemistries contribute to a product with excellent performance and a silent, clean, benign presence in a home or business. Additionally, a battery is the most highly recycled product in the world - 98%. A bonus is that given the large amount of valuable heavy metal (Pb, Ni, Li, …) a battery has a high end of life residual value to reduce the cost of replacement. A sealed battery for this home would take up a small amount of space in a basement, crawl space, or enclosure about the size of a typical food freezer. The battery size is dependent on several factors and can be reduced by including a common standby generator fueled by propane, natural gas, or clean biofuels for infrequent charging during an extended period of low sun or high demand.
Hybrid Home Electric Plant
A 6 kW standby generator, commonly installed on suburban and rural homes with well and septic systems, improves performance, reliability, capability, economics, battery size, and life. For country and rural homes not served by natural gas lines, the fuel of choice would be propane (LPG) since it is typically used for space and water heating, cooking, and clothes drying. Propane is a clean burning fuel, aids engine starting, and extends engine life.
A modern control system can mange the system to optimize performance. A well designed hybrid system should produce more than 95% of the energy from the solar panels and less than 5% from the generator set. The specified hybrid home electric plant should have a design life of 50 years. During this time, the battery would be replaced twice with a significant recycle credit to reduce cost. The present worth of 50 years of electricity from my local utility would be $88,000. The present worth of the hybrid home electric plant above - 6 kW solar array, 30+ kWh sealed battery, 6 kW standby generator, two battery replacements, and fuel would be far less than 1/2 that. To make matters better, solar investments in private homes are adding to the home market value.