Apparently the Sun
Does Shine in England

by Jim Kelsey
photos by Peter Durant

rom the front, this detached brick house is unremarkable - you can't tell it from any other in the street. But the entire back roof of this home in Oxford, southern England, is glass solar panels, some of which generate electricity, some heat water and some let sunlight in to heat the house naturally. "The whole place is virtually powered by the sun," says architect/designer Dr. Sue Roaf, who is delighted to live in it with her family.

The revolutionary photovoltaic roof, a pioneering example of solar power - which is increasingly being used in homes and offices throughout the country - generates enough energy to run the house, power Dr. Roaf's electric car and actual sell surplus electricity to the National Grid for most of the year. The modules, which provide up to 4kW peak of electricity, are linked via an ac/dc inverter to the domestic wiring board.

The south-facing roof incorporates 48 of BP Solar's 585 photovoltaic modules integrated into an aluminium glazing bar with AES hot water panels and Velux windows. And for those days when the sun don't shine, a Scandinavian wood-buming stove with a high thermal mass and complex air-duct system is used to heat the house. Other features contributing to the energy efficiency include triple-glazed windows.

The Oxford Eco House, as it is known, has become a showcase for low-energy design and environmental conservation and is likely to set the standard for all similar constructions in the UK.

For more information contact:
School of Architecture
Oxford Brookes University
Gipsy Lane Campus
Headington, Oxford
United Kingdom, OX3 OBP
Tel: +44 1865 483200
Fax: +44 1865 483298

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