Green Technology
Solar Panels Power Home Theater
Four roof-mounted solar panels power 100-inch screen, 5.1 surround sound "guiltless" home theater.
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April 17, 2009 by Steven Castle

Can a home theater really be green? The Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA) says it can—and has built what it claims is the first “off-the-grid home theater” powered by solar panels.

The “Guiltless Green Home Theater,” which has a 100-inch screen and 5.1 channels of surround sound, uses energy collected from four roof-mounted solar panels. The 175-watt Sharp solar panels collect up to 700 watts per hour during the day, which the HTSA says provides about 22,000 watts per week, enough for 19 hours of off-the-grid home entertainment per week. (The figures are based on an average of 4.5 hours of sunlight per day in the Northeast and the theater’s 1,150-watt-per-hour draw, at full capacity. The house has other electrical draws as well, so we’ll consider the figures theoretical.)

The solar PV system is also tied to the grid, so when it’s making more power than the house is using, it sends power back to the community’s electrical system and turns the meter back at the house.”

“It’s time we address the energy use of the systems we install, because their environmental impact and expense are not trivial,” says Richard Glikes, Executive Director of HTSA. “When people see this project, they’ll learn that a solar home theater isn’t something out of science fiction. It’s a practical solution we can install today, and one that ultimately pays for itself.”

According to Glikes, the theater cost about $29,575 with modest modifications to a room, and the solar system $5,800 to install. Though the solar system will earn a 30 percent federal tax credit and another 35 percent state tax credit, bringing its cost down to a little over $2,000. It will also earn credits from the local utility for producing power, and Glikes said the system will pay for itself in three years.

The theater is installed in a model home at the White Horse development of builder Nolen Companies in Pennsylvania, and the solar system was installed by LG Energy Solutions.

HTSA member HiFi House did the electronics installation, which includes a Sharp XV-Z15000 1080p DLP front projector, 100-inch Stewart Filmscreen, five Speakercraft in-wall and in-ceiling speakers and a subwoofer, Integra A/V receiver, Sharp Blu-ray player, Monster power conditioner, lighting by Lutron, control by Universal Remote Control, wiring by Monster Cable and Salamander furniture.

Other green features are provided by the Monster power conditioner that can cut power completely to some components, which eliminates vampire or standby power loads, and the Salamander theater recliners that use no harmful chromium in the leather tanning process.

We’ll no doubt see other home theaters powered by the sun and wind and other renewable energies. And maybe we’ll see some powered directly by alternative energies, much like many solar thermal systems heat hot tubs and pools.

Click here to view additional photos.

Check out a time lapse video of the theater construction:

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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