CH Solar Powered Home Takes Advantage of Australian Sun

April 3, 2024

 

 


Who is Chris Hemsworth

An Australian Actor best known for his role as ______, CH lives in Byron Bay with his wife and children. Byron Bay is a town located on the far west end of the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Solar:

We love seeing a celebrity caring about the Environment and CH’s home is a tree hugger’s dream, filled with greenspace over 4.2 hectares and a home covered in solar panels. But beyond the google images, what can we know about this impressive array? Let’s dig into what we can tell about this energy powerhouse:

New South Wales has an average solar irradiance of 4.8 kilowatt-hours per square meter, the output of light energy on a square meter per second. Irradiance of 3-4 is considered high, and irradiance higher than 4 is very high - making Byron Bay an excellent location to install panels (for reference, CA has an average of 3.6 - 6.8 irradiance across the State, and Texas ranges from 4.7 - 6.6). Long Summers and mild winters make a steady and predictable amount of sunlight, ideal for panels.

This Byron Bay home is equipped with a swimming pool, palm trees and a flat roof over the six bedroom home. While flat roofs are not unusual in the residential solar world, they do require a few different modifications. Because the roof doesn’t provide a natural tilt, panels are most often put on risers to face south (in the Northern Hemisphere) or North (in the Southern Hemisphere), as seen on the Hemsworth home. This optimal tilt helps panels maximize their solar exposure and generate the most electricity possible.

Flat roofs also often need additional supports and inspections. On a traditional tilted roof weight is transferred to the base and peak where there are additional supports. On a flat roof the weight is more evenly distributed which can be problematic in a large open space where additional weight from solar panels might cause sagging. Sometimes before panels are installed additional beams or supports need to be added.

The type of panel is a sleek black panel. While older panels had a blue sheen and a grid like appearance given the conduits, newer panels are much cleaner looking.

Old Solar Panel (notice the color and grid pattern of the conduits)
https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-man-carrying-solar-panel-9875404/

Vs. New panels (Monocrystalline DNA 144-440)
https://energypal.com/best-solar-panels-for-homes

 

The home, purchased in 2014, had panels added sometime in the next 18 months. Panels manufactured at this point in time had a guaranteed lifetime of 25 years, but an expected lifetime of 30 or more, so this home will be able to generate energy until at least 2040, but if the panels are not removed or replaced they could generating until 2050. Given that celebrities often have larger budgets than most of us, these panels are likely top of the line and most likely are generating at around 20% efficiency (keep in mind that top performing panels of 2024 are 23%).

The average pay-back period for panels in Australia is 4-5 years, so chances are that even if CH had taken these out on a loan, they’re already completely paid off and powering the house for free. Note that during that time he would already be paying less for his panels than he would have been for electricity to power the house. This means that for 4-5 years he was getting discounted electricity, and now is getting free electricity as his panels continue to soak up the sun and power his home. Talk about a sunny investment!

Seeing a celebrity go solar is a fun way for more people to learn about going solar and bring more attention to renewable energy. What eco-celebrity do you want to know more about? Comment below!

 

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