Generating your own energy is a practice that not only helps the environment but also gives you economic and creative advantages.
To that end, we’ve put together a guide to help you get started with solar power. It will cover everything from how to determine how much power you need, to what type of systems are best suited for your needs. So, read on to get started.
How Much Power Do I Need?
The first and most critical step to generating your own energy is determining how much power you need. Different people need different amounts of power. Consider the following:
- Do you need a backup power supply in case the grid goes down?
- Do you need enough power to run your appliances?
- Do you want to be able to run your appliances when the sun isn’t shining?
- How frequently do you want to run your appliances?
- How much money do you want to spend?
- How much time do you want to devote to maintaining the system?
- How large is your house?
In most cases, people run into trouble when they try to accommodate too many appliances or when they don’t take the time to consider how much power they actually need. The result is an oversized power supply that consumes more energy than needed and, in some cases, can cause damage or break down.
How much power you need will depend on your house size, the frequency of your utility bills, the type of appliances you have, and the climate where you live. It’s a good idea to hire a contractor or energy adviser to help you figure out the best system for your needs. You can also check out online calculators to help you determine how much power you need based on the sun’s current position and sunlight hours in your area.
Types Of Systems
Once you have your ballpark figure for how much power you need, you can begin to consider what type of system is best suited for your needs. There are a few different categories that you’ll need to think about, including the following:
- On-grid solutions: These are the ones that connect directly to the grid and can be installed either above or below ground. They are the simplest and the most cost-effective option for generating power, but they aren’t the most environmentally-friendly. However, if your needs are simple and you have a small house, an on-grid system could be the perfect solution. If you want more flexibility, consider investing in an off-grid system or a combination of the two. An on-grid system with an additional generator allows you to operate independently of the grid in case of a power outage. This is especially useful for people who live in areas where utility companies cut power frequently.
- Off-grid solutions: Off-grid systems are totally independent of the utility company and operate on battery power. The only connection they have to the grid is when you plug them in at night. Off-grid systems are more complex to install but provide you with more flexibility and independence, which can be of great value. If your needs are modest and you want the freedom to use your power whenever you want, an off-grid system could be the perfect solution.
- Hybrid solutions: These systems combine the simplicity of an on-grid system with the additional flexibility of an off-grid system. They are often installed in larger houses and serve as a middle ground between the two styles. While many people struggle with understanding the difference between the three types of solutions, the simple fact is that they are becoming more popular every year as people seek to gain more independence and control over their personal lives. Thanks to batteries that have improved in efficiency and power over the years, combined with inverters that can translate power from any source to useable electricity, hybrid systems give people the best of both worlds.
- Renewable energy systems: Wind, water, and solar power systems all generate electricity using renewable energy sources rather than non-renewable energy sources (e.g., coal, oil, or gas). While green energy sources such as solar are becoming cheaper and more available, wind and water power remain the cheapest and most popular methods of generating power on a personal level.
- Stand-alone systems: Finally, we have stand-alone devices that connect to the grid but deliver power directly to your home. These are generally found in larger houses and serve as a central point for generating electricity and sending it throughout the home. They are generally less efficient than the other systems but make up for it with their simplicity and modularity. As times change and new technology is introduced, standalone systems are becoming less popular but still exist and, in some cases, can be a viable alternative for people who want an easy solution that won’t cost them an arm and a leg.
All of these types of systems have their advantages and disadvantages. If you’re deciding which one is best for you, it’s important to consider your needs and wants along with the environment you want to protect. Keep in mind that all appliances used in connection with the generation of power will consume energy, so you’ll need to decide how committed you are to using energy-saving devices and how much you want to invest in them. The perfect solution will depend on your unique situation.
Energy Efficient Appliances
If your house is large and you want to generate more energy, consider investing in energy-efficient appliances. Energy-saving appliances don’t eliminate the need for air-conditioning or heating, but they do help reduce your power consumption. In some cases, they can even reduce your bills. In short, if you want to invest in energy-saving appliances, do so. They can save you money and make a significant difference in your home’s energy consumption. For an energy-efficient solution that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, consider investing in a water heater that uses half the energy of a traditional one. If your home is already equipped with a water heater, there are different ways you can make it more energy-efficient. Investing in a PowerWash system or an air dryer can greatly reduce your HVAC system’s energy consumption. Just imagine how much energy a hair dryer uses!
In most situations, people generate electricity using photovoltaic solar panels because they are the simplest and most cost-effective solution. When the sun isn’t shining, these systems lose their potential to generate electricity, so people begin to worry about whether or not they will produce enough power for their needs. To solve this problem, they often buy and install an inverter that changes direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which can be used by any appliance that is connected to it.
Inverters can also be found in appliances that are connected directly to the grid, transforming power that is fed into them directly from the utility company. These types of appliances are able to operate independently of the grid and aren’t affected by outages or fluctuations caused by the wind or the sun. As a result, they provide people with more stability and predictability in their power supply. Of course, these types of appliances are more expensive than those that are not connected directly to the grid.
Another option worth considering for people who live in areas where power outages are frequent is a battery backup system. These systems connect to the power source (e.g., the grid) via an electric circuit, storing electricity in a battery that can be used in case of a power outage. As long as the circuit remains intact and the batteries are charged, you’ll be able to retain some level of electricity in your home. In some cases, these systems are connected to the grid via a dedicated circuit that is protected from electrical surges and overloads that could otherwise damage the equipment or the house itself. In other cases, they are connected via a standard jack that protects against surges but doesn’t provide any extra security.
Battery backups provide people with more stability and can reduce the number of outages that occur each month. They can also allow people to operate their homes and appliances during times of peak demand, when the utility companies are charging more for electricity.
Grid-tie systems are a combination of an on-grid system and a battery backup system. They have two dedicated circuits – one that connects to the electricity source (i.e., the grid) and another that protects the battery and connects it to appliances and electronics. These systems require a power meter that is registered with the utility company so that you can track your individual electricity consumption and billings. They provide people with the benefits of both an on-grid system and a battery backup system, adding an additional layer of security against power outages and allowing people to consume electricity at times of peak demand.