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What Is a Hydrogen House?

Solar panels are a key component to a hydrogen house, as they generate the electricity necessary to extract hydrogen from water.Solar panels capture the sun.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A hydrogen house is a house which relies on hydrogen for much of its energy needs. The hydrogen is created through the use of solar panels which power an electrolyzer, a device which extracts the hydrogen from water, creating oxygen as a byproduct. The hydrogen can be used to run heating systems, power washers and dryers, and provide fuel for cars, while the solar panels provide electricity for lights. When the solar panels are unable to function due to the weather, stored hydrogen can kick in to power a generator which keeps the house lit up. The byproduct of the electricity-generating fuel cell is water, which can be recycled through the system.

With a well designed hydrogen house, it is possible to achieve complete energy independence. Designers of hydrogen houses also usually promote energy saving measures such as using double paned windows, providing lots of insulation to keep internal temperatures stable, installing low flow showerheads, and so forth, with the goal of reducing the amount of energy the house requires. The installation of the systems involved in keeping a hydrogen house going can get expensive, but the tradeoff is never having to pay an energy bill again.

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More properly, a hydrogen house should known as a solar-hydrogen house, because it runs on both solar and hydrogen technologies. If solar power is not feasible, the house will need another source of electricity, such as a wind turbine or connection to the conventional electrical grid. The house may also have supplementary measures in place such as geothermal heating and cooling, gravity-fed water systems which eliminate the need for a pump, and so forth.

One convenient thing about using hydrogen as a primary energy source, rather than solar or wind power, is that hydrogen can be stored against the time it is needed. Electricity generated with solar panels and windmills is best used as it is generated, as storage methods tend to be inefficient and costly. By combining environmentally friendly methods of electricity generation with a hydrogen system, a homeowner can get the best of both worlds.

Hydrogen is a highly explosive gas, which fortunately dissipates quickly, and some understandable concerns have been raised about the safety of a hydrogen powered house. It is important to make sure that safety features such as vents are properly maintained and installed, and that workmen hired to perform work on the house are aware that it is powered using a hydrogen-based system. Special caution is required around fuel tanks and the hydrogen fuel cells used to generate electricity.

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