One of the most important parts of Arcosanti is a sensible use of solar energy. The Arcosanti location with a lot of sun all year round allows making different experiments with solar panels. There are some different types of them here.
Last week Nathan showed us Arcosanti’s panels and explained the main principles of they work. There are several PV (Photovoltaic) Systems and Solar Water Heating System here. And after theory introduction we went around to see how it works in reality.
The Solar Water Heating panels are situated on the ledge of the south-east slope of the hill. As Nathan told us before, the construction consists of many pipes that provide water; and the cover panel is made in such a way to accept sunlight to come in, but protect it from getting out, so it can reflect many times from an inside surface of the panel. The choice of a right angle of the panels depends upon what time of the year you want mostly use hot water. An advantage of using solar water heating system is that it deals directly with the sun and doesn’t need electricity for heating the water. It means more efficiency.
And there are also several PV panel systems at Arcosanti that generate electricity from the sun energy: at the parking lot, on the roof of the Lab Building, near the Dorms in the East Crescent Complex, and under the glass windows of the Red Room greenhouse. And there are several places with collectors and controllers for these panels. These modules are mostly used for night lightening (along the trails) and partly for dorms lightening. Though it couldn’t now cover all the expenses on regularly used electricity (because of amount), it’s still a large part of the experience, research and practice of solar panels.
Nowadays it is no more a secret that we have problems with fuel resources and ecology but a lot of people still don’t pay attention to the natural forces resource (sun, wind, water) and Arcosanti could be a good platform for research in this way. And of course what Nathan told us was very important to remind us as architectural, engineering students to think about the future, pollution and limits of natural sources, to be partly responsible for it.