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Imagine waking up in the morning, reaching over to grab the remote, and pushing a button that says “Good Morning”. A home automation system links appliances, monitoring devices like cameras and motion detectors, lighting, and electronics in the home.
Open and close: windows, blinds, curtains, doors, garage doors, or anything else that can be opened or closed. Turn on and off: dishwasher, washing machine, indoor lights, outdoor lights, or any other appliances that can be interfaced with.
The idea behind a home automation system, besides comfort and enjoyment, is that everything is used only when necessary.
Our next article will go into more detail about the available options so you can choose the home automation system that is just right for you and your home.
MyE offers a slew of plug-and-play products including Smart Home Gateway, Smart Thermostat, Smart Plug, Smart Light Switch and Smart Remote. With your home energy profile, our website will provide a list of cost-effective energy-saving recommendations, and help you develop a plan to make your home more efficient. Undetected problems in a home's HVAC system waste energy and can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.
Solar PV is within reach for many households to buy or lease…it is not a luxury accessible only for the rich. Solar PV may offer a higher financial return on investment (ROI) than many stock market investments. Solar PV systems can be connected to the utility grid, can be independent of the grid with a battery back-up, or can function as a hybrid of both. As omnivores, humans eat the tissues of plants and animals, a store of edible energy derived from the sun. This fact sheet focuses on residential building integrated solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, a modern, and increasingly popular, form of harvesting sunlight to work for us at home. Residential solar PV systems directly convert a portion of light (photo) energy from the sun into electricity (voltage) that can be used at home or sold back to your local utility. An inverter converts the direct current (DC) power from the PV array into the alternating current (AC) power traveling along utility electricity distribution lines and serving our home systems and appliances (Figure 3). Grid-tied PV systems typically offer the fastest rate of return on their investment as many utilities offer incentives.
More commonly used in rural areas, off-grid PV systems can supply continuous, stand-alone electricity, day or night, limited only by the size of the integrated battery energy storage. Utility grid interconnection with battery backup is enabled through hybrid PV systems and their controls.
Since wise households live within a financial budget tailored to their income, it may be prudent to ask yourself, “how does a solar PV system investment compare to a few of the most common big household decisions?” These are decisions when an individual, couple, or family must pause for a moment and contemplate commitments that take a longer view than our fast paced daily lives.
While definitions and calculations for energy return on investment (EROI) differ according to system boundaries and other variables, generally EROI is the ratio of units of usable energy outputs for each unit of required energy inputs. This means that a barrel of oil in the 1930s was energetically worth nearly 10 times more than a barrel of oil is today. Despite these strong arguments in support of solar PV systems, there are several common challenges that limit their more widespread adoption for residential applications.
Financing options may be hard to find and many homeowners may not meet underwriting standards. Since solar PV systems must pay for themselves over time, optimizing their placement and performance is critical in achieving a meaningful return on your investment. Solar PV systems are optimized for cool, clear weather with consistent sunlight falling onto the PV cell surface oriented at a 90 degree, perpendicular angle from the sun rays.
However, the cost and complexity of tracking equipment leads most consumers to install fixed, south-facing solar PV arrays. Most residential roofing materials and common roofline slopes allow for rooftop mounting of solar PV arrays using lightweight, windstorm rated, frames and fasteners. In some cases the roof of your home may have insufficient solar exposure or may have poor access for installation.
Integration of solar PV systems into buildings through the replacement of conventional materials is an interesting option.
While the solar PV array needs to maximize its solar exposure, other PV system components, such as inverters, are typically located in less exposed areas, protected from the sun and rain. Incentives for solar PV have historically been available for limited periods of time and have varied across local, state, and federal scales. As of 2015 (and continuing through December 31, 2016), one of the most beneficial incentives a household can utilize to offset the installed cost of a residential solar PV system is the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit offered by the federal government.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about residential solar PV, you may want to join this growing movement. Learn to understand your electric (and water) utility bills, how to read your electric meter, how to find available local incentives (tax credits, rebates, etc.), and what rules may apply to you.
Consider your technical assistance options, educate yourself on familiar industry terms, and get proposals from several reputable, established solar system providers and installation contractors. Analyze costs, projected savings, contracts, and warranties to make the best choice for you and your home. The shades raise, the lights turn on, the coffee pot starts brewing, and the furnace kicks on to take the morning chill out of the air. At the touch of a button, the TV turns on, lights dim, shades close and you’re all set for movie night. The simplest form of automation, the programmable thermostat, can make sure that every drop of heating and cooling energy has a purpose. It is something that everyone should consider implementing, even with smaller and more affordable changes. We help homeowners by offering leading edge home performance solutions that save energy and lower utility bills. Simple user interface and superior energy savings opportunities across mobile, web and thermostat--thata€™s what you get from MyE. They provide hi-tech solutions that make your life more automated, convenient and energy efficient.


You'll get a free report of home energy efficiency evaluation and estimate of potential energy savings.
Our smart thermostat constantly monitors the runtime performance of your HVAC system, and our cloud-based analytics algorithms are run to identify lapses in HVAC performance.You will receive notifications as soon as a problem is detected. Our sun is the prime mover empowering the work of life on Earth through radiant light, heat, and magnetism. We direct and reflect sunlight to provide natural illumination through windows and skylights. A sun-tracking, free-standing, solar PV array consisting of eight total PV panels, each constructed of 44 individual square polycrystalline PV cells.
The most recognizable component is the solar PV array (Figure 1), a wired collection of PV panels, each containing one or more weather-sealed PV modules, which are made from smaller PV cells (Figure 2). An NREL researcher holds an individual solar PV cell, the smallest light harvesting component in a solar PV system. Balance of system (BOS) equipment may vary by manufacturer or operational type and typically includes wiring, mounting hardware, DC and AC disconnects, ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), combiner boards, overcurrent protection, and fusing hardware. Solar PV inverters and controllers at Channel Islands National Park in San Miguel Island, California. Depending on your utility provider, as well as, local, state, and federal requirements, these systems can supply power directly into the home or out onto the grid. At a minimum, qualified renewable energy generators in Florida owning PV systems up to 2 MW in size may take advantage of the net-metering rules implemented by the Florida Public Service Commission. Additional components common to off-grid PV systems may include battery accessories, enclosures, charge controllers, and critical load circuit subpanels.
These PV systems may require all of the previously mentioned components common to grid-tied and off-grid PV systems. First generation, flat-plate, crystalline solar PV cells are made from silicon (Si), a semiconducting material common in modern consumer electronic circuits.
While originally considered a lower efficiency option, thin-film PV cells have been showing significant efficiency improvements both within the lab and within commercial applications during the period from 2011 to 2015 (Figure 5). Thin-film solar PV modules, such as this one made with amorphous silicon, can be deposited on a variety of low-cost substrates, including glass and flexible plastic sheets. Solar PV cells continue to show efficiency gains within the lab (as evidenced in this chart from Summer 2015), even as solar PV costs for commercial applications continue to decrease in price. Solar PV systems produce electricity without the direct greenhouse gas emissions and local particulate air pollution associated with the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil.
These financial commitments might include getting married (US $27,021), [5] buying a new vehicle (US $30,303), [6] and buying a new house (US $193,194 in the Gainesville, Florida market in 2013). Assuming an electricity inflation rate of 4 percent per year, this typical system would provide its homeowner a 25-year average annual return of over 14 percent! A ratio below 1:1 is a threshold at which harvesting and delivering the energy source becomes a burden instead of a benefit to society.
This is because it takes significantly more energy, water, and material resources to harvest the current generation of lower grade oil and natural gas fields than it did in the early days.
With the growth of creative lending models, such as solar PV leasing and property accessed clean energy (PACE) programs, homeowners have more options than in the past.
In some cases, installation may be prevented due to incompatibility with local ordinances and land development codes or due to pre-existing aesthetic standards in homeowners’ association codes, covenants, and restrictions. Ideally, solar PV arrays would be located away from all shading vegetation and structures and would have automated tracking, changing their directional orientation and angle of declination (or tilt) to move with the sun during its daily and seasonal journey across the sky.
Some materials such as asphalt shingles (Figure 6) and metal (Figure 7) are especially well suited to rooftop mounting. Rooftop mounted PV systems can be attached onto most residential roofing materials, like this asphalt shingle roof, with the proper mounting racks, fasteners, and associated accessories. Metal can be a durable, long-weathering, material for Florida roof systems, with an added benefit of reduced leak risks from solar PV installations when using a standing seam as the racks and fasteners “pinch” the seams, rather than “penetrate” the waterproof surface. Free-standing solar PV systems may be pole-mounted or frame-mounted to the ground at various heights, independent of a building structure (Figure 1).
The most common building integration methods involve solar shingles (Figure 8) and solar windows (Figure 9). Light, flexible PV roofing shingles for direct building-integrated mounting can blend so well into conventional asphalt shingle roofing that they can be used on new homes where covenants might prohibit more typical rooftop mount solar PV arrays.
Building-integrated solar PV can also take the form of PV cells laminated directly to windows or skylight glass as shown in the Thoreau Center for Sustainable Development in San Francisco, California. Possibly, the ideal way to finance a solar PV system is within the primary mortgage of a home purchase. For homeowners that may be underwater on their primary mortgage, but with stable incomes, good credit, and space within their debt-to-income ratio, an unsecured loan product may be a good option. As the solar PV market has matured and consumer pricing has progressively decreased, many incentives have expired. This incentive reduces your solar PV costs by 30 percent through a direct credit applied over one or more tax years until the full credit is achieved.
While solar PV may still be out of reach for some, system specification, financing, and installation solutions are increasingly more tailored to serve unique household needs. The goal of the consortium is to become a world leader in energy research, education, technology, and energy systems analysis.
Or closing the shades and turning on the ceiling fan when it gets too warm in one room, but not hot enough for air conditioning. There are many different technologies available so everyone’s needs can be accommodated. The MyELeaf™ shows green when you turn to a temperature that's energy efficient.You can also track your energy history and performance. Since our first use of tools, humanity has tapped the sun’s energy through a variety of technologies. The sun-driven transfer of heat through moving air (convection), solid materials (conduction), and electromagnetic waves (radiation) are forces we partner with (or fight against) to heat water and to condition building spaces for optimal thermal comfort. In order to protect utility infrastructure and line workers in the event of a power outage, grid-tied PV systems automatically shut down until power is restored to that section of the grid.


Additional components common to grid-tied PV systems may include utility switches and utility metering hardware to measure electricity production in kilowatt hours (kWh).
Though silicon-based PV cells account for nearly 90 percent of PV system sales and silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe and the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, it is rarely found in its pure form and must be processed from various silicates. Additionally, thin-film PV cells offer creative building integration design options (Figure 8 and Figure 9) and bring other benefits such as better tolerances to heat, hail, and shade. In other cases, they may increase system performance by concentrating sunlight through micro-lenses or mirrors onto smaller sized, but more efficient PV materials.
As our climate changes and our hydrocarbon fuel stocks diminish, renewable electricity becomes an increasingly more important contributing factor to our ecological, social, and economic wellbeing. Another study suggests this point may happen within this decade for both solar PV [2] and wind power, while other studies estimate that we are unlikely to achieve parity until the late 2020s to early 2030s.
Furthermore, recent studies suggest homes with solar PV systems are realizing premiums of several thousand dollars in resale value versus their non-solar comparables. Nearby buildings, urban infrastructure, and vegetation may block access to suitable solar exposure from portions of single days to entire seasons. As a result, most homes must be “grid-tied” rather than “off-grid.” An off-grid home is powered exclusively by a mix of on-site energy sources, such as a solar PV system, and on-site energy storage, such as a battery back-up system which adds additional cost and space requirements. However, as the general public becomes more “solar savvy,” many cities and states have adopted legislation to protect solar access rights. Further reductions in power production come when solar PV is mounted on fixed east-facing or west-facing roof slopes, as compared to fixed south-facing installations. Other materials such as clay tile and slate may pose challenges during installation and may increase the risk of roof leaks. While the mounting poles and frames may increase installation costs, this location type brings benefits such as increased potential to optimize the directional orientation, angle of declination, and solar tracking. However, adoption has been slowed by higher costs, lower production, and untested longevity.
As detailed in the previous example, a solar PV system may be cash-flow positive from day one when tucked within a 30-year mortgage. However, unsecured loans typically have shorter repayment times and higher interest rates which may degrade the solar PV system return on investment. The best online tool for finding incentives specific to your location is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). This fact sheet offers a stepping stone to those who wish to learn more as we empower our economy from the light of our sun. You can also ?solve PDF issues by reconfiguring your browser to work with Acrobat or Reader plug-in. These aren’t ideas from the future, however, a home automation system that can control your home is something that you can have today. From the more affordable X10 protocol for the do-it-yourselfer to the popular ZigBee and Z-Wave, it is important to know what choices are available and what the pros and cons are of each system.
Hybrid PV systems typically cost less than off-grid PV systems because the batteries for hybrid systems are sized for emergency need, as opposed to daily use for off-grid systems. In the early days of the solar PV industry, this refining process and the production of the PV cells was very expensive.
However, solar panels using thin-film PV cells have shown evidence of rapid degradation of electricity production and early failure from sun damage to the protective coating and backing. These PV cells are currently being tested for long-term durability and production degradation. Energy production beyond the EPBT period raises the EROI progressively higher than 1:1 until a solar PV system passes its productive lifespan. These solar PV advantages are expected to increase for the foreseeable future as innovation continues within both research labs and field installations.
Where no solar PV dedicated loan products exist, homeowners may be constrained by their personal savings and any equity they may have in their home loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. A grid-tied home is typically powered directly from the local utility infrastructure with the on-site energy sources serving to offset a portion of household energy demand. With multi-decade lifespans of solar PV systems, it is important to consider the age of your roof before installing a rooftop mounted PV array.
Creative homeowners may even integrate solar PV into a free-standing open-air porch or other personal shade structure.
We encourage you to visit the extensive hotlinks, tools, and resources shared within this fact sheet.
Toward a Scientific Framework for Sustainability Life Cycle Analysis.” Polymer Degradation and Stability 95, no. A more complex home automation system that integrates the whole home eliminates the need to go about all the tasks that we know save energy like turning down the thermostat and turning off lights and TVs to maximize savings. But costs have plummeted with manufacturing advancements and as semiconductors have become ubiquitous in so many consumer products. For some homeowners, solar leasing may be attractive because it reduces or eliminates the upfront cost. Roofs within the last 5 years of their service life may need to be replaced prior to adding solar PV to your home. First generation solar PV is typically warrantied for 25 years with lifespans up to 35 years.
However, lease agreements should be carefully read because they entail binding commitments over a long-term agreement. These solar panels continue to dominate the market because of their combination of low cost, low electricity production degradation rates, and long service lives.



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