Solar panels installed on the north and south facing roofs

Solar panels installed and operating

The day we switched on the solar power system was the culmination of a long design and installation process. Clever solar panels maximise electricity production while the inverter/battery keeps the lights on at night. The aim is to minimise importing grid electricity but export as much solar power as we can.

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View of Unit 2 frame from Unit 1 kitchen window

Frame means Unit 2 goes 3D

After a pause to recover from the exertion of pouring the slab, the team moved onto building the frame for Unit 2.  Time to go 3D! Living in Unit 1 ...

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Passive solar and Passive House are different

Passive solar and Passivhaus

While discussing sustainable home design with others, I realised the word "passive" mu;st be used carefully. Passive solar design is different to Passive House design. It's important to understand the differences and similarities.

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Outdoor and indoor temperature graph

Testing outdoor versus indoor temperature

While the indoor temperature felt comfortable during hot summer days, I was left with the nagging feeling that wishful thinking was keeping me cool. Passive solar design should minimise the need for mechanical cooling for everything but a run of very hot days. Temperature monitoring data confirmed this is the case for our design.

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Finished concrete slab for Unit 2

Pouring Unit 2 slab

As soon as the team finished Unit 1 in late 2018, work started on the site for Unit 2. A lot of time and effort went into the groundwork for a stiffened raft slab. During one busy day, the concrete was poured and the slab finished.

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Charger and inverter are the heart of an offgrid power system

Offgrid power system is back

During Unit 1 construction, the team showed that an offgrid power system could meet the electrical requirements for all but the most demanding users. Based on that experience, the system was reassembled to power Unit 2 and 3 construction.

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Hopper windows assist with natural air circulation

Gentle art of natural air circulation

Imagine it’s the end of a baking hot summer’s day, perhaps one of those 45 degree plus crackers.  The home’s insulation, thermal mass and shade did a fantastic job keeping ...

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Exposed slab edge on concrete foundation

Insulating concrete slab edge

Insulating the concrete slab edge reduces the heat lost from the thermal mass during winter. There are a variety of ways to install the insulation along with the termite barrier. After considering the likely cost/benefit, our design uses a garden bed to cover exposed concrete edges.

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Heat pump for hot water looks similar to air conditioner heat pump

Heat pump in service

Using heat pump technology for both the reverse cycle air conditioner and the hot water system is an efficient way to meet those needs. Despite the warm weather, the air conditioner is yet to be fully tested as the passive cooling features in the house have kept this heat pump on standby duty.

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Reclaimed timber offcuts are an ideal material for deck screen

Timber offcuts are useful

Building the deck for Unit 1 from sustainable decking materials was a requirement. Creating an artful privacy screen from reclaimed timber offcuts was the icing on the cake. The process highlighted what can be achieved with a commitment to sustainable building practices.

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