In Davis California, Honda has built a working model of “tomorrows” self sustaining zero carbon footprint urbane environment. We thought we’d take a closer look at the construction cost viability of low to no environmental impact living.
Living “off the grid” can be challenging. First hand experience tells us that available solar and wind charging, battery conditioning, and the waning charge retention of winter, more often than not leads to turning on a gasoline or diesel fueled generator. I lived off the grid on a tree stand in Northern California for the better part of 3 decades.
While environmental consciousness was a -party -to the exercise, in practical terms, alternative power generation was the only viable source of electricity available to us at that time.
Early alternative energy pioneer David Katz of Redway California championed the idea of living off the grid through the utilization of D.C. or low A.C. powered appliances, lighting and eventually refrigeration, water pumps and hand tools. Today the “alternative energy revolution” has become big business.
And a big part of that evolution is the development and promotion of viable electric vehicle personal transportation.
The majority of today's plug in electric vehicles are charged via a fossil fueled power plant electrified public power grid. Much like the utilization of a gasoline fired generator at home, the relationship between grid and EV impacts the ‘true’ ecological benefits of electric car or truck ownership.
Unfortunately cars and homes contribute 44% to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S..
Honda’s viable solution to the problem is to combine home and car in one solar powered package.
Honda’s solar powered, grid integrated ‘smart house’ is located in the Sacramento Valley, Davis Ca. While not a desert environment, Davis does enjoy an abundance of sunny days and a measurable lack of overcast rain and snow conditions; a rather perfect location for demonstrating the viability of a solar generated D.C. electricity.
Home to U.C. Davis, Honda Smart House project director Michael Koenig, in cooperation with the University has constructed what they believe to be a viable model for a not too future solar power sustained house-personal transportation interface.
That’s correct, Honda has included the charging needs of a Fit EV in the equation and the rooftop 9.5 kw solar PV system powers the house while recharging the Fit. Would it charge a Tesla S ? Certainly.
Great idea. What’s it cost?
It’s good to have money: Resources invested here by American Honda Motors($millions) will pay off in great dividend for the corporation as well as the end user. California has been chosen as the testing grounds for several very good reasons.
Governor Jerry Brown and company has set the bar for “zero net energy” residential construction by calendar year 2020. In terms of construction practices and product development, that might as well be next year.
While the Davis Honda Smart House is not a stand-alone, off grid project, it does produce more energy than it consumes. As to the 2015 Honda Fit EV, Honda has modified the car’s charging controller to accept a direct D.C. charge from the solar panels. For our EV friends that scoffed at the Japanese experiment, look boys, it’s happening right here at home.
Honda claims that the Fit EV will reach a full charge in 2 hours under ideal conditions.
Honda’s not telling us what the smart house project has cost to date. However, we took a moment to contact Grape Solar of Eugene, Or.. Grape is a Chinese owned distributor of high quality imported P.V. Cell and control components. Owner Ocean Yuan is very cooperative when describing the positive attributes of his product line.
Bottom line: A basic 9.5 kv P.V. solar array and controllers will set you back $21,933 at Lowe’s improvement center. That’s just for the panels and controllers. Mounting hardware, wire and the licensed electrician to install this grid-tied system will most likely double that number.
Storage batteries, etc. are not included in the kit price. Honda has incorporated a lithium storage battery in the smart house; something most consumers simply can’t afford to purchase.
Much of the above estimated cost can be subsidized or offset by state and federal tax credits. In the near future, the cost associated with installing solar or wind generated primary power on or to your home will be rolled into the initial construction cost of the project. And, rolled into the purchase price or mortgage funding of choice.
It should also be noted that smaller stand alone systems are available at a fraction of the cost of the larger system.
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