Installation of hybrid solar panels on a mountain chalet in France (FR)

  • 2013
  • Refuge de l'Arpont, France
  • Power output : 3kWp + 4,49kWth
  • Panels : 12 hybrids

To visit our installation of the refuge de l’Arpont, you will have to do at least 3 hours of high mountain walking. On the other hand, the site is worth the detour. Indeed, the refuge de l’Arpont is located at an altitude of 2,300 m in the Vanoise National Park. Its rehabilitation will be completed in 2013, and since then it has been equipped with 100% sustainable development equipment.

The challenge was the following: to be able to welcome a large number of people for a correct price with optimal comfort… while being in an isolated site! Because with 92 beds and a high number of visitors (5,000 summer nights), the refuge de l’Arpont is an important link in the National Park’s network of refuges.

Thanks to sustainable development innovations such as our 2 in 1 DualSun solar innovation, the refuge de l’Arpont can now comfortably accommodate the hikers who use it.

The park stretches over the Vanoise Massif between the Isère valley, the Tarentaise and the Arc, and the Maurienne to the south. It is adjacent to the French-Italian border.

Like all national parks, this one carries out actions of protection and knowledge of all that constitutes it (fauna, flora, habitats, natural resources…), environmental awareness and education, as well as actions of local development and sustainable development.

The rehabilitation and extension of the refuge de l’Arpont, entrusted by the National Park to GTM Bâtiment, a Vinci subsidiary, is part of this approach. Indeed, the isolated site of l’Arpont had become dilapidated. GTM will be responsible for its renovation and extension in an environmentally friendly and sustainable development approach. As such, the installer DomancyElec wanted DualSun hybrid solar panels. He is one of the specialists in renewable energies for isolated sites.

An exceptional eco-responsible site

Hybrid solar panels, complete insulation of the building, dry toilets … Here are the top-of-the-range equipment of the refuge de l’Arpont which make it a model of energy self-sufficient building. In addition to this, a system of solar batteries will store the energy produced during the day to redistribute it in the evening.

It should be noted that the construction site was out of the ordinary. Delivered by helicopter, the 12 hybrid panels are integrated into the shelter’s façade. They are oriented east-west and placed vertically. Why are they vertical? To avoid snow overload in winter and thus generate optimal energy production.

This technical choice offers a very aesthetic result. This atypical building site required a lot of coordination as well as adaptation to the constraints of the protected park. It is all the expertise and know-how of DualSun that culminates on this project.

Why DualSun panels rather than PV and Thermal panels side by side? For technical and aesthetic reasons, says the installer, Mr. Paul Cathand. Indeed, he liked the innovative side, the fact of saving space and being able to integrate them into the facade.

Particular technical choices

In order to meet as closely as possible the specific needs of the refuge, the installation of our DualSun hybrid panels is unique: they are integrated into the façade, oriented east-west and run on solar battery in the evening.


➡️ Go further by consulting our article: Which inclination and orientation of the solar panel to choose?


The DualSun panels are oriented from east to west (-45° to 45°) in order to best suit the shelter’s needs.
The east/west orientation is not necessarily optimal for a standard building. But in the case of the hut, it is ideal because its highest needs in hot water and electricity are early in the morning (departure for hiking) and late afternoon but much less throughout the day.

Panels facing south produce the maximum in the early afternoon but the hut is empty in the early afternoon!

Installation of the panels vertically. The solar energy in isolated site can sometimes take various forms! Here, you have seen well, the DualSun panels have been installed vertically on the facade. This choice is not only for aesthetic reasons! It was necessary to avoid the overload of snow in winter, which can quickly reach several meters.

The vertical inclination nevertheless allows sufficient production in summer, as we explain in our article on the inclination and orientation of the panels.

The renovation of the Arpont refuge represents the management’s desire combine the respect of nature with modern architecture. The decision to install DualSun panels fits perfectly with both requirements: instead of having a multitude of panels on the roof, the DualSun panel provides a beautiful aesthetic consistency, while providing a clean and sustainable source of energy.

– Franck Dorne, manager of the refuge

Technical information

Characteristics Mountain refuge (capacity: 92 people)
Number of panels 12 DualSun hybrid panels
Power output 3kWp + 4,49kWth
Rooftop installation Panels installed vertically, integrated into the facade of the building, orientation east/west
Thermal system 750L hot water tank with electric booster
Photovoltaic system Self-consumption of electricity with solar batteries