Here is what I plan to build a prototype for in the next 6 months. I want to know what you all think of it.
The basic idea is to use low grade panels and cover a roof entirely in them. The cost of the panels should be dramatically lower this way, and even if they are less effecient, they make up for it in surface coverage. Ie, an entire roof vs 5 10x4 panels.
Because these are low grade panels however, even full roof coverage will likely not be enough power to run a house. So the next idea is to recover heat into energy. The tunnels directly below the panels will serve a host of functions:
1) By tunneling heat generated through small fans attached to generators we recover a lot of lost energy, bringing eficiency up without significantly incresing cost. These heat tunnels are no more advanced then an average roof tile.
2) Heat tunnels cool the solar panels preventing heat from lowering their eficiency dramatically.
3) The heat tunnels prevent the solar panels from being so hot they have to be mounted on independant platfroms (normal panels have to be installed an inch off the roof to prevent burning).
4) The heat tunnels prevent heat from ever reaching the attic by funneling it up and out. This should prevent the attic from heating up, a known method of decresing cooling cost of a house. Thus the heat tunnels will actually make a house more energy efficent at the same time, killing two birds with one stone.
The only question in my mind is weather or not enough heat induced airflow can be created and utilized to turn enough fans to generate sufficent electricity. What do you all think?
--Justin Bosserman, June 24, 2004