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Solar Panels For Home Electricity

Bryan Said:

Are you producing your own electricity in your home? If so, what are you using and are you satisfied with it?

We Answered:

Hey No Name, you've got some good responses here, but to address the core of your question, we have been running our home on wind and solar for 11 years now. We've made some changes over the years, had a few setbacks and malfunctions, but overall we are very happy with it. If you live in a place with full winter, your climate is probably like ours. Where we live, our solar resources are exceptional in the summer with long sunny days, but dismal in the winter. Wind however is just the opposite, great in fall and winter, limited in summer. This is why most renewable homes use both solar and wind, the two compliment each other so well. There are other considerations though. In 11 years I've not put a drop of oil into or turned a screw on any of my panels, they still put out the same power today they did 11 years ago. The wind turbine however is another story. We're actually on our third unit, and for 7 years it has worked pretty well. Turbines are like cars. If you don't maintain them, they break down. If you do maintain them, they break down later. They make noise, and can be a sight to behold or an eyesore to weather, depending on your point of view. Probably a good reason to check with your neighbors ahead of time. Another misnomer about solar is it needs heat to work. Actually, it is just the opposite, solar panels put out more power the colder it is, you can check with the manufacturers on that.

We spent $13,000 on our original equipment, then received around $3,700 in grants and tax incentives. Our electric bills today come in around $6 per month, as opposed to the 30 or 40 dollars they used to be. Are we money ahead? Probably not, but this does not address the fact that our home has not been without electricity for even a minute the last 11 years, difficult to put a price tag on that. But even if our energy costs more this way, we're okay with it. Lots of people grow tomatoes, even though it's cheaper to buy them in the store. They hunch over in the garden picking worms off the plants, weeding, and fussing for weeks. Why? It's a hobby, they taste better, they are organic, and so on. We just grow electrons in our garden, so when I do a load of laundry, I'm not adding CO2 to the air and mercury to the lake. Does it save me any money? No, but it's still worth it to us.

Your question is pretty broad based, and it will be difficult to get a complete answer here. What I would suggest is you do some more research, and try to make it to one of the many energy fairs that are hosted all over the country. We did 12 years ago, and it got us to where we are today. There are some great non profit groups advocating and researching in this area, I'll list some below. I would also recommend subscribing to Home Power Magazine, it's inexpensive and gets right to the heart of what you are trying to find out. Each issue has articles on people like us, what they have done and how it has worked out. Our home was even featured about 9 years ago. They also keep a calender of all the energy fairs. Do some more research, keep asking questions, and get to a fair, you'll be an expert in no time. Take care Noname, Rudydoo

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