Solar Powered Glass House

19kWp Solar Thin Film 

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ARPower were approached in early 2014 with brief to tender for a solar PV and solar thermal installation that was to be part of a ‘Grand Designs’ style house conversion in the Coquet Valley in Northumberland by Brightblue Studio Architects. The building that was to be renovated was an old glasshouse situated in a high brick-walled Georgian garden of a country estate. The south-facing side of the wall looking into the garden had to be a glazed building and represent the old glasshouse as part of the planning condition.

Based on the aesthetics, it was decided that Solar Frontier thin film modules were the preferred solar option. Because of their uniform black sheen, and how the light catches them from certain angles, they were the ideal solution to represent a glazed roof. The idea was to fit the whole roof from edge to edge with modules.

A bespoke mounting system was designed and the mounting rails and module clamps were supplied all black to blend in with the standard Velux windows, which had been manufactured to be the same dimensions as the solar modules. The height of the windows had also been carefully matched so the window surface was the same as height as the glass on the front face of the solar panels. 

The end result almost a year later is a property which combines the old, original glass house theme, with new functional energy generating technology.

Brightblue Studios

Brightblue Studios

Solar Frontier Thin Film Panels

Solar Frontier Thin Film Panels

A rather tricky feature of the roof was there had to be a gap of 100mm either side of the panel, rather than them being butted up against each other and secured with a mid-clamp.

This 100mm gap carries on down the front face of the property where the windows, doors and decorative cladding have all been made to specifically tie in with the layout of the solar panels on the roof. 

Plant Room

Plant Room

The house has its very own plant room slap bang in the middle of the property, where the DC cables are fed directly from the roof through a periscope style cable entry point into DC string fuse boxes, which feed four single phase, ABB inverters.

The plant room also has a MVHR unit alongside a new pre-plumed Mitsibishi FTC5 cylinder which is heated by an external Ecodan 14kW heat pump, which utilises the excess pv generation to produce renewable heat.