Although solar battery backups are outside of the scope of this article, I find it necessary to at least mention them and why they are useful. First, battery backups are good in the event of a blackout. Unfortunately, your solar panels will not power your home if the lights shut off. This is to prevent your system from frying a lineman who's repairing the grid. A battery blackout will let you keep your refrigerator running while the power's out. Second, if you are running an off-grid system, you'll need the batteries when the sun's not shining.
Zoning—Most land has been delegated to various zones by a region's local government and building department officials (at the city, county, or state level [occasionally]). The zones control types of land use, such as agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial, and include subcategories. Each type of zoning carries its own specific permitting restrictions, such as building height and property line offsets (required separation distance).
Interconnection standards—Specifies the technical and procedural process by which a customer connects an electricity-generating device to the grid. Such standards include the technical and contractual terms that system owners and utilities must abide by. State public utility commissions typically establish standards for interconnection to the distribution grid, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) establishes standards for interconnection to the transmission grid. While many states have adopted interconnection standards, some states' standards apply only to investor-owned utilities and not to municipal utilities or electric cooperatives.*
When you decide to get solar panels for your home, it’s tempting to consider installing them yourself—after all, going the DIY route is a great way to save money on many different home improvement projects. But solar power is a different story. It’s highly recommended that you work with a professional solar installer, and here are some of the reasons why.
“I don’t live in Colorado. How much juice will I get out of it where I live?” This part is fun: The National Renewable Energy Lab runs a great, free calculator called PVWatts that does it all for you: factoring in average weather and solar angles in your area, even allowing you to specify solar panels placed at any crazy angle you like. (In other words, your house doesn’t have to have a perfect South-facing roof).
Keep in the mind the costs associated with mounting your solar energy systems. You’ll need racking equipment to attach the solar panels to your roof and you’ll need the correct mounting system for your yard as well. And also keep in mind you need to really research the best positioning of the system to maximize the amount of sunlight you capture, taking into account the location of the sun during peak sunlight hours in addition to the location of any shade inhibiting objects (e.g., trees, buildings). Even one panel that is blocked from the sun due to a shade tree can inhibit the efficiency of the entire solar energy system.
Before choosing a wind system for your home, you should consider reducing your energy consumption by making your home or business more energy efficient. You can start by learning how electricity is used in U.S. homes. Reducing your energy consumption will significantly lower your utility bills and will reduce the size of the home-based renewable energy system you need. To achieve maximum energy efficiency, you should take a whole-building approach. View your home as an energy system with interrelated parts, all of which work synergistically to contribute to the efficiency of the system. From the insulation in your home's walls to the light bulbs in its fixtures, there are many ways to make your home more efficient.
Best of all, the package embodies almost all the accessories- from blades and nose cone to hex key and bolts. The only drawback of this low budget turbine is its inability to start up at low wind speed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, once it starts, it keeps producing energy ceaselessly. However, its affordable price and the included big and tiny constituents have earned a great Thumbs Up from a lot of users.
When you decide to get solar panels for your home, it’s tempting to consider installing them yourself—after all, going the DIY route is a great way to save money on many different home improvement projects. But solar power is a different story. It’s highly recommended that you work with a professional solar installer, and here are some of the reasons why.
Having a gas cooktop probably saves us electricity. However, we also use a large toaster oven to do most of the oven-style cooking. This uses much less electricity than the oven. We also bought a counter-depth (smaller volume = less energy) fridge that is Energy Star rated. And we also purchased an energy-efficient condo-sized washer and dryer set, and we only run them when we have full loads. My husband often hangs the clothes to dry.
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*. "SunPower 345W compared to a Conventional Panel (240W, 15% efficient, approx. 1.6 m2), 9% more energy per watt, 0.75%/yr slower degradation. BEW/DNV Engineering "SunPower Yield Report," Jan 2013, with CFV Solar Test Lab Report #12063, Jan 2013 temp. coef. calculation. Campeau, Z. et al. "SunPower Module Degradation Rate," SunPower white paper, Feb 2013. See sunpower.com/facts for details.


To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.

Good for you! We’re pretty hardcore about saving electricity, so I can share a few tips. We use between 250 to 300kWh per month. The a/c and furnace suck up the most power. We replaced the furnace with a high efficiency one. Replacing all of the insulation in the home made the biggest difference for cutting our heating costs, both natural gas and electricity to run the furnace.
In the spirit of self-reliance and ecological responsibility, wind farms and wind generators have become an increasingly logical option for energy. The wind generator kits available are a huge step in that direction. Wind generators create and provide energy by harnessing an inexhaustible, renewable resource: the wind. There is a large inventory of wind generator kits available on eBay. The basic components of a wind generator kit include the wind turbine, the blades and hub, and the tail. There are many additional choices to consider with your wind generator such as tower height and length, amount and size of blades, and power translating efficiency. Wind/solar hybrid designs, tail extensions, and other customizable options and add-ons are also available, depending on your wants and needs. You can even add decorative details with a colored or American flag emblazoned tail. Alternative energy is becoming a more popular choice for people willing to invest in both the wind generator as well as the path to non-polluting energy it is forging.
The map above gives a great indication of general areas that receive a good amount of wind, but the immediate surroundings are vitally important too. A wind turbine must be able to function unimpeded from trees, hills, buildings or anything else that might affect the wind. Good sites for wind turbines would be hilltops, plains, fields, and ocean fronts. Anything close to a forest, city, or valley would run the risk of not getting a strong enough wind.
The a/c uses a LOT of power. We inherited an old one, and it’s expensive to replace. We haven’t replaced it yet because we only turn it on about 5 days a year when it gets over 98-degrees. To keep the house cool, I close the east-facing curtains/blinds in the morning, open them later in the day, and then close the west-facing curtains/blinds in the late afternoon. Because we’re in California, the temperature gets much cooler at night. So I open the windows at night to cool the house down, and then close them in the morning to keep the heat out. This works like a charm for the 80 to 90-degree days.
Most home solar kits are designed for off-grid use, which means you can’t use them and remain connected to your utility. If you’re an average homeowner, going off-grid is probably not in your best interest – being able to access utility-generated electricity is important if your solar energy system doesn’t produce enough electricity to meet your needs at all times of the day throughout the year.

What is the Best Solar Panel to Choose? The output power, voltage and current profile of the solar panels will dictate the number of panels needed and what inverters or charge controllers can be used. Small off-grid home or cabin kits often require 12 VDC output panels to directly charge batteries and/or operate DC loads. Larger solar panels with output voltages ranging from 24 to 50 VDC are more commonly used in grid-tie home systems where a high DC voltage is required to operate the inverter. If you have the roof or ground space with limited shading issues on your property, the larger solar panels may provide a better investment since the cost per watt is cheaper than smaller PV (Photovoltaic) panels.
Turbine and tower manufacturers should provide their own operations and maintenance plan; however, turbine owners should be aware that all rotating equipment will require some maintenance. Many turbines require periodic lubrication, oil changes, and replacement of wear surfaces such as brake pads.[21] Bolts and electrical connections should be checked and tightened if necessary. The machines should be checked for corrosion and the guy wires for proper tension. In addition, you should check for and replace any worn leading edge tape on the blades, if appropriate. After 10 years, the blades or bearings may need to be replaced, but with proper installation and maintenance, the machine should last 20 years or longer.

When contemplating installing a residential wind turbine on your property, it is important to know how this energy saving resource works. A typical wind power system is made of a wind tower and a turbine with multiple blades. The wind spins the blades, converting the wind energy into electricity. The height of the wind tower varies depending on the location of your house. The wind turbine blades collect the wind energy that is then converted to an electrical current that is compatible with your home. In a typical residential application, electrical power is provided by the wind turbine and the local utility. In essence, you can harness free energy from the wind, and use this energy to supplement the energy you are currently purchasing from other utilities.

At work we install large off-grid solar battery systems, but not with NiFe because the ones we looked at had high internal resistance and low charging efficiency, which would require much larger arrays. The people we have talked to that do use them say they are a PITA to maintain and take a lot of water, and that they wouldn't buy them again. At least they don't suffer from sulfation. I think they are worth watching to see if they improve, but I wouldn't suggest using them now unless you like to fiddle with batteries.
Solarize campaigns can also help you start the process of going solar. These programs work by allowing groups of homeowners to work together to collectively negotiate rates, select an installer, and create additional community interest in solar through a limited-time offer to join the campaign. Ultimately, as the number of residents who participate in the program increase, the cost of the installations will decrease.
Wind energy systems can be one of the most cost-effective home-based renewable energy systems. Depending on your wind resource, a small wind energy system can lower your electricity bill slightly or up to 100%, help you avoid the high costs of extending utility power lines to remote locations, and sometimes can provide DC or off-grid power.[2] In addition, wind energy is clean, indigenous, renewable energy.
As you can see from the picture above, I’ve started by building a relatively small solar array. There are twelve panels, each about 40 x 60 inches. Each one generates 300 watts of electricity when the sun shines, and when you run the numbers for my climate, the whole setup will crank out about 6100 kWh/year of electricity, a chunk which is worth about $732 per year at average US power prices.
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