Saturday, March 28, 2009

Converting To A Solar Home

There are many affordable options to convert your home into a solar home and solar energy technologies can supply for several different uses in a solar home. Passive solar design can provide heating, cooling and natural light for your home. Solar electricity options are available to power home appliances and solar water heating can provide hot water options for laundry and general household water use (showers, cooking, cleaning). When planning a solar home it is important to consider which solar energy options are most efficient, and cost effective for your situation.

A passive solar home utilizes home design to provide heating, cooling and natural light without the use of any special equipment. A passive solar home basically uses the environment to accomplish great reductions in energy use. A passive solar home uses construction materials and design to utilize the sun’s heat during winter months and block the sun’s heat during summer months. There are several passive solar techniques you can use in a solar home, direct gain, radiant heat from sunlight passing directly into a living space and being absorbed by furniture, flooring etc and usually achieved with south facing window installations, indirect gain, involving an attached Trombe wall that collects heat and distributes it throughout the home by the use of fans, thermal mass, which are materials that naturally collect and store heat such as brick or stone, and passive cooling, which generally includes overhangs for south-facing windows to block the sun during summer months for cooling the solar home.

Another feature often found in a solar home is the use of solar electricity. Solar electricity is generated when photovoltaic cells are used to absorb sunlight and convert it into usable electricity. The energy produced by solar panels must be converted to DC (household power) through the use of an inverter. Solar electricity can be used to supplement metered electric already being received by a solar home or with the use of a battery storage bank, can be used as the only electric source for the home. If the later is going to be used, it is suggested that owners of the solar home have a generator available for backup power.

Solar water heating is one of the most common uses of solar energy in a solar home. There are two kinds of solar water heating available for solar home use. The first is a closed loop system, which can be used in areas that are not prone to freezing. These systems use water filled tubes that are heated directly by the sun. A closed loop system uses an anti-freeze type liquid to collect heat from the sun and then the heated liquid is used to heat household water via a heat exchanger.

Regardless of which steps you take toward converting to a solar home, energy efficiency is the most important attribute to a successful solar home operation. Energy efficiency minimizes the need for heating, cooling and electricity. Using higher insulation levels, more energy efficient windows, appliance and lighting than used in traditional construction, you will already be saving yourself a lot of money and energy. However these changes may not be an option when converting an existing home into a solar home, so make any changes possible to your home energy efficiency and adapt other solar practices to convert your existing home into a solar home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Home Solar Electricity

Getting home solar electricity is more affordable today than 10 years ago. In fact, many state governments are currently offering tax rebates to persons that choose to convert to home solar electricity. If installing a photovoltaic system to supply your home solar electricity is too far out of your financial abilities, there are also programs available to purchase your utilities from an accredited green energy supplier. Green energy suppliers offer only utilities fueled by renewable resources, such as solar electricity, hydroelectricity and wind generated electricity. However, if you made the decision to switch to solar electricity for your home it is important to determine your electricity needs before you start shopping.

The first thing to determine is how much power you will need from your home solar electricity system. Different arrays and solar panel set-ups offer different wattage outputs. Take the time to determine your average daily electricity usage. You want to achieve a number that includes the entire year and affords for the different amount of energy used during winter and summer months (more lights, heaters, air conditioners).

When shopping for the right photovoltaic system to supply your home solar electricity definitely research the quality of the product. A product offering 13% efficiency and a lifetime warranty will be far more valuable than the panel offering 15% efficiency and a one-year warranty. Ask neighbors, friends and even strangers currently using home solar electricity, to learn more about the differences in systems. Sufficient time should also be spent interviewing installers and researching manufacturers as well.

A final decision needs to be made as to what kind of system you would like to use to supply your home solar electricity. There are generally three types of solar panel systems used to supply home solar electricity. The first type is a grid-tied system in which your solar panels are tied into your current power meter. You are using both electricity supplied by your panels and your supply is then backed by electricity from your electric company. The second available solar panel system for supplying home solar electricity is a grid-tie with battery backup. With this system you are collecting electricity from you panels, filling your batteries for emergencies and then the excess is sent back to the electric company through your meter. The final system is a stand-alone system. Very similar to the grid-tied system with battery backup except that you are completely disconnected or maybe never connected to a major utility provider for your area.

Once you educate yourself on providing your home solar electricity, you are probably ready to start shopping. Remember that converting to home solar electricity is an investment and you will reap the rewards over time. And don’t forget the pride you will have with reducing your carbon footprint by converting to home solar electricity.

Can Anyone Live Off The Grid?

When you talk about alternative energy and living off the grid, a lot of people feel instantly that they will have to give up most of their modern amenities to live in such a fashion. Many more think this is an endeavor solely for granola loving hippies, whose modest ways coincide with fewer technologies, TVs, ACs, etc. The truth is, living off the grid is a possibility open to anyone. Granted, you may have a larger investment if you are powering three chest freezers and all high-energy appliances, but this would simply mean you need a larger system.

The increased demand for renewable energy technology has led to the development of more efficient and easy to use components to make living off the grid a reasonable option for anyone willing to be mindful of their energy consumption.

Using renewable energy sources to produce electricity is a fairly simple process. You need a power source-sun, wind or water-from which you will harness a low voltage direct current that is then converted, using an inverter, into usable house current (AC). Excess current generated by your system is stored in battery banks where it can be retrieved during more high demand times or times when the direct energy source is unavailable.

Living off the grid with renewable power resources is almost completely automated as well. Except for the maintenance of your batteries, there is almost no special attention needed, other than monitoring your energy use to make sure you do not exceed your supply with your demand. The key to success in living off the grid is making sure you size your system to meet the demand of your energy needs.
Living off the grid can be an exhilarating experience. The feeling of energy freedom is like no other and you can be proud of your efforts to combat global warming and best of all, you may never have to worry about a power outage again. It is important to conduct your research and determine which alternative energy sources will work best for you in your geographical area, but it is definitely worthwhile to learn how to live off the grid and feel the rush of freedom being off the grid can give.

Do It Yourself Solar Power

Say goodbye to electric bills and hello to renewable energies. Solar power is one of the best and most reliable renewable energy sources available. The problem most novice environmental warriors find is that the cost of professionally installed solar power systems is way beyond their budget and it could take well over 10 years to see a return on their investment. Never fear, there are alternatives. The most cost-effective way to take advantage of the power of the sun is to build solar panels on your own.

Sound like too much? If you are scared it would be difficult, it is just not true. It is easy to build solar panels with the proper instructions. Easy enough for kids, teens and adults. The parts aren’t complicated either. Most of the supplies you would need to build solar panels are available at your local hardware store or you can purchase a solar panel kit, which will include all the parts you require to be generating your own energy from the sun. It is possible to construct several small solar panels to power small appliances or small tools in your workshop. Or for the very adventurous and determined alternative energy seeker, you could build solar panels to service a much larger electric load.

There are many resources and guides available with detailed instructions on how to build solar panels. The first and most important step is to seek out quality detailed instructions. Then it is off to your local hardware store to find or order your supplies and next thing you know, or the next time you have some free time, you will be able to assemble and install the system yourself. Watch out though, the neighbors may start asking you to build solar panels for them too.

Not only is it going to save you money to build solar panels yourself, but you can feel proud that you are doing your part for the environment as well. Declaring your independence from fossil fuels and making a much-needed impact on the world and in your neighborhood.

Professional solar power systems can cost thousands to be installed and in today’s economy most of us don’t have money to spare. Make the choice to go solar today and learn to build solar panels on your own. It will be savings you can be proud of.

Build A Wind Generator Cheap

It is true. You may have heard it and not believed it, but you can build a wind generator on your own. Even better is the large amounts of money you can save when you build a wind generator instead of purchasing one from a wholesaler or retailer. It is easy to build a wind generator with the plans and instructions available. By utilizing used auto parts, odds and ends and general supplies from your local hardware store, you can build a wind generator in no time.

You may be wondering why you should build a wind generator when you can just purchase one, but commercial wind generators cost in the thousands to buy. The materials needed to build a wind generator, the DC motor, batteries, towers and hub, are fairly inexpensive. It is possible to build a wind generator for under $500 and that means realizing the return on your investment years before you would have buying a professionally installed commercial model. Even if you invest in better quality materials when you build a wind generator, you will still find your total cost way below that of the professional installation.

Electric power generated by wind is one of the most efficient renewable power resources available. Many cities worldwide have started to convert to wind power to supplement their energy supply. It is possible to have a green energy supply by taking the time to build a wind generator. Not only are you helping the environment, but also you can save money at the same time.

It is not difficult to build a wind generator. The average do-it-yourselfer can complete this project with simple tools. There are detailed instructions and plans available to build a wind generator in your workshop or home. So build your wind generator today and put it on your roof or support pole and start generating your free power, thanks to a little breeze.

What Are Green Energy Sources

Many homeowners today are looking into integrating green energy sources for developing more energy efficient homes and businesses. A green energy source is power generated through renewable resources, such as the sun, wind and water. The other benefit of green energy sources is their low contribution to global warming, pollution and other environmental issues.

The most popular of green energy sources is the sun. Energy captured from the sun is called solar energy. Of the green energy sources, solar energy is the most popular because it offers multiple options for use. It is possible to harness electrical energy from the sun using solar panels consisting of photovoltaic cells that convert energy from the sun into electricity you can use in your home or business. There are also solar hot water collectors that use the heat of the sun to produce hot water. These solar green energy sources are readily available and increasing in popularity as most homes and businesses can have them mounted on their roof and they can take advantage of lowered utility costs.

The most efficient of green energy sources is wind. Wind has been used to power water pumps for centuries, but has grown in popularity as a way to supplement home and business electricity needs. Wind is the safest and cleanest of the green energy sources as it produces no pollutants and does not contribute to global warming. Wind energy is harnessed by erecting a turbine that spins in the breeze generating electricity. Unlike the sun, which can be found almost anywhere, in order to utilize wind as a green energy source, you must live in an area where wind is readily available.

Water is also a viable participant of green energy sources. Water is less widely used as a green energy source for homes, as not all homes have an available stream to produce the needed electricity. The Amish have used water to power entire shops using conveyer belt systems, so it is an old practice, but it is still being used successfully today. As with solar and wind energy, energy harnessed from moving water is almost completely pollutant free and is generated from a renewable resource.

Green energy sources are available for use to combat global warming, our dependence on fossil fuels and to lower our monthly budget. Investing in green energy sources for your home and business needs can add dollars to your wallet and years to the life of our Earth.

Converting To Solar Electricity

When asked about alternative energy or renewable energy, most people think of solar electricity. Generating electricity from the sun is a technology that everyone knows well. Whether it is your pocket calculator, home, or workshop, regardless of your power needs, solar electricity can get the job done.

Solar electricity has a number of unique advantages over conventional or grid-based electricity. Solar electric systems can be designed for a variety of applications and are extremely beneficial in remote areas where other electric opportunities do not exist. In addition, photovoltaic systems that generate solar electricity have no moving parts therefore requiring minimal maintenance, are easily expandable, and with many smaller units, transportable.

Environmental compatibility is a huge selling point for converting to solar electricity. The fuel for generating solar electricity is a free renewable resource, the sun. Solar electricity offers no noise pollution and actually almost no pollution from their operation. Another appealing factor for many who choose solar electricity over conventional electricity is simply the independence. It is an attractive offer to many rural dwellers to know that when the lights go out due to storms or blackouts, theirs are still working. No longer a slave to waiting on hold to report an outage to find it will be 10 hours before their service will be restored.

The hardest part of converting to solar electricity is the cost of the system. Investing in a solar energy system can be a substantial upfront cost. The value of solar electricity is realized over several years. A professionally installed solar array for an average dwelling (avg. $100/month in electric bills) could pay for itself in 5 years. You could reduce that number by building your own solar panel system or by purchasing a used system. With many solar energy systems in less rural areas and only in some states, you can sell your unused solar electricity back to the electric company. In these situations the return on your investment is realized much more quickly.

Using the power of sun with solar electricity is a benefit to the environment and to your home. Solar electricity is already being used to supplement power for a number of large cities in North America. Take time to learn more about solar electricity and how you can have trade in your electric bill for a carefree life with solar electricity.

Its Easy to Learn How to Make Solar Panels

Plenty of people have been looking into installing solar panels in an effort to combat rising energy costs. When most of these people see the prices of the professionally installed panels they realize it may not be a luxury they can afford. There is an easier, more cost efficient way to harness power from the sun and that is to learn how to make solar panels for your self.

Any motivated do-it-yourselfer can learn how to make solar panels for their home, workshop or business. When compared to the cost of purchasing and installing a pre-made solar energy system, learning how to make solar panels for your energy needs and the materials you need to execute the project are far less. By learning how to make solar panels for yourself, you have greater control over the size and design of your system as well.

Once you have a quality manual and you have learned how to make solar panels, the supplies are fairly simple to find. Most can be found at your local hardware store like, plywood, sheets of glass, and a roll of copper wire. It is also easy to locate inexpensive solar or photovoltaic cells to use in your project. Many are available over the Internet or you may have a retailer available locally. One you’ve learned how to make solar panels and you have your supplies, it usually takes about a day to assemble a 100-watt panel. This is the perfect amount of electricity to operate small appliances or a small workshop.

The most important step is finding a quality manual with detailed instructions for learning how to make solar panels. In many cases you get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars on a well-reviewed instruction manual. Overall, the cost of the making your own panels is so low, the price of the how to guide is minimal-you will still be paying way less learning how to make solar panels on your own than purchasing a professionally installed system.
With a little bit effort, you can be on your way to learning how to make solar panels to meet your energy needs. Then sit back and bask in the pride the next time the power goes out on your block. Your lights will still be on because you learned how to make solar panels and your energy supply is still in your battery bank.

Off Grid Living-It's Easier Than You Think

More and more people are realizing that you can still enjoy modern amenities while enjoying the independence of off grid living. Being off the grid means being exactly that, off the grid. No power lines, no electric bills, and being free of utility grid demands, not to mention their ever-rising rates. Off grid living is environmentally friendly and cost effective and it is an option available to almost any one owning a home.

The principles of off grid living may be applied to any home in the world, even those currently tied to the grid. From solar panels, hydropower and windmills, there is growing curiosity in off grid living and breaking free from fossil fuel burning power plants. The technologies have advanced and the costs have dropped greatly.
Even do-it-yourselfers can take leaps into off grid living with many kits, resources and manuals available for instruction. As energy demands increase globally, those living off grid can rest easy knowing their own energy costs are diminishing.

The idea of off grid living can be scary to some who believe they will have to give up some of their most prized possessions and electronic gadgets to achieve such freedom. This is very far from the truth. Off grid living is simply about learning to moderate your use of electricity. It can be as simple as turning off lights that are not really in use. Purchasing appliances that don’t use energy when not in use (like clocks on microwaves and stoves). Learning to unplug, not just turn off. Things like computers and printers, well anything with the little green light that is always on, these items are stealing precious energy and adding to your bill. Wanting to become part of the off grid living adventure, doesn’t always mean giving up everything, sometimes it just means getting smarter about the things you have.

Off grid living has gotten so popular that even completely re-locatable high efficiency homes are being produced to meet those needs. Very similar to mobile homes and travel travelers in layout and definitely only designed for a one or two person dwelling, these housing units use solar power, passive solar design and a small amount of natural gas to provide off grid living that you can take with you when you move.

If you are interested in off grid living, but need more success stories to drive you over the teetering point then start your research on the Internet. There are tons of great resources available and individuals who took the plunge into off grid living with great success telling their stories. Imagine, no more gathering around that one little candle when the power goes out, or having the neighbors over to watch their favorite shows when there is a blackout. Off grid living is obtainable for anyone and you too can enjoy the life of off grid living no matter where you make your home.