By Lee Consavage

I received a request from a family who are building a new home along the coast of New Hampshire to advise them whether or not the BIPV system products provided by Lighthouse Solar of Boulder, Colorado, would be a good choice to incorporate into their new home. The family happened to be in Boulder at the time of my review.

Heres my advice to the family:

    Lighthouse Solar PV Panels http://www. lighthousesolar.us/

The Dec 2007/Jan 2008 issue of Home Power magazine (which I subscribe to and highly recommend) featured an article about the Lighthouse Solar Building Integrated PV (BIPV) system. Sanyo has a new PV cell design using HIT technology, which are 2-sided (bifacial) PV cells mounted on transparent material. When sunlight hits the PV panel, some sunlight is converted to electricity by the PV cells located on the top side of the panel. Other sunlight passes through the transparent material and is reflected back onto the PV cells located on the bottom of the PV panel. Since the PV panel material is partially transparent and provides a filtered light, there are numerous possibilities to incorporate this PV panel into your home structure, such as using the panel in place of windows, skylights, awnings and carports. Incorporating PV panels into the structure of a building is called Building Integrated PV.

According to the article, the energy production from this bifaicial panel over a conventional singled sided PV panel is increased by 10% to 20%. The cost premium for the bifacial panel is 20%. But if youre using the bifacial panel in place of awnings or windows, for example, then youre savings increase. Besides the increased energy production, youre paying a premium for a really nice looking panel that is intended to be an architectural feature in your home.

If you need a partially shaded area around your new home, then the bifacial panels would be an excellent choice to provide that shade. If the drive isnt too far for you, you should visit Lighthouse Solar to learn more about this technology and get some ideas of how to incorporate their panels into your new home.

Im sure the panels would work just as well on your roof as long as your roof will be a light color material that will reflect light to the bottom of the panel. If your roof will be dark, then you should go with a conventional single sided panel and save the 20% premium.

 

Also, the cost estimates and paybacks listed on this website are rough estimates only. Please consult with your state rebate program, with certifier installers and with your CPA before investing in a renewable energy system.

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