The 2010 National Solar Tour, organized by the American Solar Energy Society, is Saturday, Oct. 2.
Thin might be in among Hollywoods celebrity set, but when it comes to solar energy solutions that take a little creative license to achieve optimal aesthetic impact, PHATs where its at.
Los Angeles-based PHAT Energy is creating buzz among design-conscious, environmentally-concerned and economically-sophisticated Californians with its unusual PHATport solar energy systems.
Monrovia, California resident Pam Francel and her husband were eager to deploy a solar energy solution to offset their consumption, but the configuration of their roof inhibited a traditional residential roof-mount system. After surveying an array of options, they hired PHAT Energy to design a poolside solution that has them evangelizing the benefits of todays BIPV.
"We went for solar and we got a design, we got a patio, we got an improvement to our home and we got lower energy bills," Pam Francel said. Whats intriguing about the versatility of the modules used for this project (they chose Sanyos HIT Power Doubles) is that they are easily placed in areas that not only optimize electricity production, but further reduce the owners energy consumption. The Francels solution represents a classic BIPV phenomenon known as shadow voltaics.
"This patio cover actually shades the south side of our house, which lowers our energy bills even more," said Pam Francel. "Going with this design cut our energy bills by about seventy percent. That was a big surprise, as our 3.2 kW system was designed to offset about fifty percent of our energy use," she observed. "We reduced our utility bills from $200 to $58 per month."
PHAT Energy General Manager Philippe Hartley says these solutions are bonafide home improvements that leave customers marveling that they can generate clean, renewable energy as they beautify their property and enhance its utility.
"While Californians certainly appreciate the environmental benefits of solar and with PHATports the aesthetics of bifacial panels they also take pride in the economic prudence of solar energy, particularly in this economy. Some want solar as a hedge against unforeseen rate increases, others like the potent combination of federal tax credits and California state rebates or the way it improves property values.
Still others like the versatility of the PHATport, which can be designed to drop in additional panels when theyre ready to purchase and power an electric car," he observed.
"We love to install solar energy wherever we can," Hartley continued, "but were focused on ways of placing solar power front and center, where it can be a part of the fabric of our lives. And its working. Customers like to say that in todays solar marketplace they can go outside, grab a beverage, relax by the pool and make some energy."
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