Thursday, February 16, 2012

Affordable Solar Power Systems and Micro Homes by Walt Barrett

   I have been following the growing market for micro homes world wide for several years now and have even built a "test bed" 128 square foot model with the help of my son John who is now the CEO of our companies.  Many of these homes will be built in remote areas and will require the use of solar electric systems to provide a decent level of convenience and communications  required in this day and age.
   I listened to a report on this morning's CBS news and they were talking about how the solar module prices are dropping right now and how people in California are saving several thousand dollars on whole house solar electric systems at the present time.  This is especially good news for micro home builders because with a couple of 200 watt solar modules and a modest battery pack a person can have LED lighting, water pumping, computers and a TV easily with power to spare.  We have been testing an 800 to 1500 watt tiny electric space heater that can be used in a well designed 200 square foot micro home and it looks very promising depending on the climate.  It only costs us $30.00 to purchase.  Also the heat loss/gain number (BTU/hour) of the micro home will be a major factor.  For up to two people I favor designs up to 250 square feet on one level for convenience, especially for the elderly who use them for retirement, or vacation homes. Well designed homes in those sizes require very little energy for heating and cooling. 
   Our best selling solar product is our very low cost deep well (230 feet depth) solar water pumping system at $849.00 including the American made water pump , solar panel and Canadian made controller. Some people charge that much just for the pump!  You might ask how we can afford to sell that low, and the answer is that we own Battery Chem which is a very green battery reconditioning chemical company operating world wide and frankly we don't need the money from the solar that badly, so we have made a commitment to the solar and micro home industry to make it affordable.
   For several years we have considered mass producing a solar off grid micro home but do not see the market there yet.  We are sitting on plans for a semi automated manufacturing facility that will use new technology that we have developed, but it is too soon.  We are too far ahead of the market at this time and there is too much resistance from local governments who are seeking new ways to collect and spend more tax money and not ways to lower tax collections.  Of course, they could try spending less, but that would be unthinkable, oh horrors!
   This spring we are going to add a bathroom module to our current test bed home.  The module will include a solar power management system and a new solar battery pack with 120 volt inverter.
The lighting system uses 3 watt LED light bulbs.  We have all of the components in stock.
   We will open our solar micro home for inspection early this summer when the modifications are finished, but have no plans to mass produce it at this time. I have a feeling that many people will want to use our type of design. Our goal is to get the price of micro homes down to the level of a mid sized new automobile. Currently, most micro homes are dramatically over priced.  We have a solution for that problem.  Now if we could only solve the problem of finding inexpensive build-able land.  If a person works at home the land problem is much more solvable and I  intend to write a full report on that subject and why you should do it very soon now that I am feeling much better now as 2011 was a very tough year for my health.