The Power-packed man

A Bengaluru-based engineer brings about a big change with his small initiative of an eco-friendly home and selling solar energy to the government.

Published: 23rd September 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2017 02:10 PM   |  A+A-

Sheets of wood kept at a plywood workshop at Perumbavoor. (Below) A worker at a furniture shop at Nellikuzhy in Perumbavoor

His house has no fan, the inner walls are made of plywood and packaging wood, the house has plentiful supply of harvested rainwater, and generates 40 units of electricity per day through solar panels. Neel Mathews, a Bengaluru-based electrical engineer, even sells a part of this electricity to
the government at `9.56 per unit.

“I use a maximum of 10 units, including car charging and water management for Aquaponics (indoor terrace farming) each day, and the remaining 30 unit goes to the government, which  helps me earn `9,000 per month, sometimes even more,” says the 48-year-old, whose eco-home is at Nisarga layout in Jigni.
The solar panels set up in 72 square metres on the roof absorb 10 kW energy to generate 40 units of storable electricity. “Though power generation is lesser during cloudy weather, the panels manage to absorb some, and I am able to export some power after personal consumption,” says Mathews, an employee at Mahindra Electric.

Mathews with wife Susan Neel

The grid tied inverter converts solar energy from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which can either be stored or supplied through cables. If there is a power cut at any time of the day, the solar energy system is cut off from the grid and he cannot send out electricity. So he simply stores the same in batteries attached to his solar panels to be used later.Apart from this, his eco-home is interesting in terms of space conservation, woodwork and greenery. “I dreamt of it 15 years ago, and built the house two years ago,” says Mathews, who also has two electric cars.

He uses the ancient technology of earth pipe cooling that directs air flow through underground water pits into the house via pipes.“The compound wall facing the road is made from used glass bottles and unmodified rocks. The top part of the wall acts as water bowls for birds and squirrels. The side compound walls are rectangular water tanks that act as aquariums,” he says.

There’s no concrete in the inner walls, and furniture—including doors—have been made of low-cost, lightweight wood, bringing down the cost. “Doors open efficiently without consuming room space as they split into two unequal portions. There is step ladder on each floor, so that overhead storage (attic) is accessible,” he says. He has turned old PVC pipes into aquaponics containers. All plants that are not root vegetables, such as potatoes and onions, can be grown in aquaponics.

His wife Susan Neel, who initially did not understand his vision, now invests a lot of love and care in
this garden.Another part of his small green initiative is rain water harvesting. The water goes down into the tanks with a joint capacity of 70,000 litres, where the water is filtered and pumped back into the overhead tank. “This water is used for gardening and washing clothes and utensils. Rain water is the purest form of water on earth. Nothing is better than a home collecting rain water effectively in the time of water crisis everywhere,” he says.

Green mantra

Inner walls, furniture and even doors are made of low-cost, lightweight wood

He has turned old PVC pipes into aquaponics containers

Mathews is experimenting on saving solar energy into lithium ion batteries for his domestic use

He also harvests rainwater, which he says is the purest form of water


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  • Vasanth

    Awesome use of scientific principles in practical use. A true engineer!
    2 years ago reply
  • Bhanudas

    Very interesting and informative. Can I have his email id?
    3 years ago reply
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