Autonomous House

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Vale1Wind & Sun designed and installed the first grid connected PV system in the UK in 1994.

  • Module type: Solarex MSX 60. (36 x 60Wp)
  • Inverter:  1 x SMA PV-WR1800 (1.8kW)
  • Upgraded Inverter April 2009: 1 x SMA SB-2500 (2.5kW)

On July 27th 1994 the first private UK grid connected PV system started to supply power to the grid. The house was designed and built by and for Brenda & Robert Vale along principles first outlined in their book 'The Autonomous House' first published in 1975.

The building of this house is described in the recent book The New Autonomous House' which is available from Wind & Sun. The house is self sufficient in energy and water:

  • The construction forms a highly insulated solid mass to eliminate heating needs by giving long term heat storage.
  • A two storey conservatory provides passive solar heating
  • Water is collected from the roof and filtered for drinking.
  • Sewage is composted
  • Electricity is generated by a 2.16kWp PV array.

Due to the orientation of the house the PV array was designed to be mounted on a free-standing pergola in the garden. The 2.16kWp Photovoltaic Array is made up of 36 Solarex MSX-60 60Wp modules connected in series strings of 6 modules. Output is fed to an SMA PV WR-1800 1.8kVA inverter and then to the house consumer unit. Generated power is first supplied to the house loads and any surplus exported to the grid.


At night or when power requirements exceed power being produced, electricity is imported as normal from the the local DNO, Powergen. Metering is performed by two standard mechanical meters.

PV system design supply and installation was carried out by Wind & Sun. Careful planning meant installation took only two days and commisioning was immediate.

The cost of the house including the PV system was just under £155,000, - typical for a house of this size & quality. The extra costs of technical features used in the house is compensated for by savings elsewhere, eg. no fitted kitchen, showing that environmentally responsible building and living needn't cost the earth.

The Autonomous House is still going strong since it's installation in 1994.

In April 2009, Wind & Sun upgraded the previous 1.8kW inverter with the SMA Sunny Boy 2500kW inverter.