Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


MOSE, Douglas, College of Science, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 and METCALF, James, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030,

Many homes now have operational photovoltaic (solar panel systems) in northern Virginia. To compensate for the diminished solar energy in Virginia, compared to states in the south, owners installed about twice as many panels as would be required in southern states. Typical in our study is a 2-story, 2000 square foot home connected with the local power grid. In all cases, several yerars after the home was built, a 1-3 kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed, usually with batteries to provide post-daylight or emergency power. The systems typically cost about $20,000 (includes the installation cost), and they typically provide about 30-50% of the home's electrical use. Consequently, "reverse meter spin" occurs for only a few hours each sunny day. Half of the homes have roof-mounted panels, and half have pedestal or ground mounted panels. Many of the homes have other "green" components of their total energy and conservation systems (hybrid cars, water-saving plumbing, extra insulation, rain-collecting barrels, etc.). When asked about the cost-saving aspects of their systems, most expressed more interest in experimenting with their home than in saving money, and most estimated that their energy savings would never pay off the cost of their photovoltaic system.