Solar Panels in Ukraine: Self-Powering House
It's a dream of every environment protection activist – fully autonomous, energy-efficient home. I would like to live in one, too!
The fully autonomous house was introduced in Ukraine quite a long time ago. In 2016, for example, PassivDom startup organized a promotional conference to attract customers and increase social awareness.
An energy issue is very important in Ukraine. Not as critical as, say, in central Africa as of now, but considering the overall tense situation in the global economy and war, Ukrainians feel seriously concerned. It may become plainly impossible to pay the bill one day, and that is not the worst thing that may happen.
The idea of the autonomous house first appeared in Germany in 1990. Such a building should not require external power sources, like gas or electricity, and can even use its own water supply that can be replenished by any means available.
Usually, this kind of house is modular. It is either assembled from panels on construction site or made ready on factory and then transported on a ferry and installed wherever you want it. Shapes and sizes vary depending on construction material and purpose: it can be a tiny 50m 2 box or a full-scale 3-store office building.
The only thing that would keep placing such a dream-house in the middle of the forest, on top of a mountain, or on a lake shore is logistics. Can they drive in there? If yes, then a solid foundation for it is no big deal, even on a moderately steep surface. As the house's frame is very durable, it can be transported to another place that captures the heart of its owner.
Solar panels are essential to make the house energy-autonomous.
Any manufacturer of energy-efficient homes can integrate solar panels into a project, but the perfect option to use solar panels is probably to upgrade the existing private house. Installing these panels one by one on a rooftop will eventually make electricity expenses during summertime equal to zero.
Lots of households still use gas as an alternative power source. Like electricity, it grows costlier every year. Using solar power will eventually allow ceasing gas consumption (on a local level), and that is a great personal contribution to global ecological well-being.
In some regions, the local government supports and thus stimulates the acquisition of solar panels, compensating 10-20% of its cost.
Panels themselves are affordable to middle class, but power management will require some time and wits. The whole household can easily be powered during daylight in summer, but powering devices at night will require accumulators that are relatively expensive. If the roof is fully covered in panels, one will have good reasons to sell extra power, as the idea is to use the savings and the earnings to power up the house in winter. How to sell the energy is another question.
If there's no more place to install panels, upgrading house insulation will maximize efficiency. Old private houses are known to be extremely inefficient in terms of heat preservation.
Also, mind that north-western regions of Ukraine generally receive less sunlight than south-eastern ones. The range is 1000-1400 kWh/m 2 on average.
Now, more about particular buildings companies.
PassivDom manufactures house frame on an industrial 3D printer. No solar collectors or heat pumps are used – these are proclaimed outdated.
The house is made fully equipped and furnished right in a factory. Even wine glasses are included, as the manufacturer proudly admits on its Internet page.
On top of that, the house is smart! Right, it will adjust its temperature management to weather, welcome its owner as they approach, and perform any other high-end trick according to the settings.
It claims to sustain power balance even in winter.
LifeHouseBuilding offers something unique in this niche: a straw house. Good in terms of insulation and ecology and won't burn unless intentionally and deliberately exposed to extreme temperatures. Wooden frame won't allow frequent relocation. Also, be warned that if mice somehow get into that cozy compressed straw, they might produce creepy noises.
Neoacre provides similar services of planning, constructing and domesticating the area around the house to make it fully usable.
Another manufacturer is Ecopan with its impressive dealer network, seemingly low prices and fast order execution.
Drawbacks? No average Ukrainian citizen can easily afford it. Prices start at about $60K as of July 2018, and although the ad says that the savings will cover it up, a small boring apartment is much cheaper at first.
The choice is yours. Anyway, going green seems to be the right choice.