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A Television program:

We do all sit in front of the idiot box and binge on reality shows once in a while. Then there are some of us who like watching information providing and “knowledge increasing” television shows like the Grand Designs on Chanel 4. While I totally appreciate Kevin McCloud, he too occasionally gets his facts wrong.

To err is human:

Everyone’s allowed to make mistakes, but it’s kind of hard to overlook a huge error on the part of a top notch and famous live show. It is true that they show you some of the world’s most marvellous architectural masterpieces, they do sometimes mess up. Big Time. I am referring to the UK episode on ABC1 which showed a home designed to efficiently using solar power.

This episode was based on a home in London (whose owners had rather poor aesthetic sense). This house was a faux-mews in one of the vintage lanes of the glorious city. In order to try and restore some sort of authenticity to their ‘modern’ building, the owners gave their house a finishing touch with acrylic tiles which they thought imitated the age old bricks of London!

They added a rather gaudy looking (just my opinion) golden coloured couch and they have a spa and dance floor in their newly styled home. The worst part however, (in the views of many solar critics as well) was their solar power system. While it is praiseworthy that they took an initiative to have a clean energy powered living space, the method that they chose to adopt is not quite appropriate.


This contemporary solar power system that they chose to install is a vertical wall mounted array of panels. You read that correctly, a vertical arrangement. Now there are a lot of things wrong with this sort of method if you’re wondering what the big deal is.

Firstly, the panels are surrounded with trees and other buildings which provide shade and as any person with basic knowledge of solar power would know, shade is the enemy of solar power generation. As per experts, the panels are at least 40 degrees away from their ideal 50 degree tilt that they should have to maximum city solar power production.


Secondly, the panels are on a vertical wall and are installed too close to the ground. This is not good for energy production either. Now coming back to the Grand Design debacle, at point during the show, Mr McCloud even mentioned that with these panels the house can even fully power itself. This statement of his was completely baseless and absolutely untrue.

Not to be too hard on the guy, I mean he was only doing his job and how was he to know that these panels are useless to the existing structure! Experts who were upset by this nonsensical claim decided to do the math and let the calculations speak for themselves.


What they concluded was that this particular solar system under these conditions would produce only up to 5.28 kWh per day while the house would require at least 30-50kWh per day to function smoothly. Someone on that show needs to start doing better research!


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