The main reason why many people today turn to alternative energy sources for their homes is that it gives them independence and freedom. They no longer depend on the sources of energy provided by large companies and corporations, nor do they have to pay monthly just to be able to have electricity in the home, use a computer or watch television. Not only that, but renewable energy is much cleaner than traditional energy and has a better perspective in the future.
Because we have a rapidly changing environment due to abuse of the planet’s sources, more and more people are inclined to stop contributing to this abusive method and find a way out and give their part to help the environment.
If you want to commit to a renewable energy source, you may have to learn more about that. In addition, you should know that there are several types of renewable energy and, before deciding to use one (or several) sources of energy, you must first go a little deeper into this sphere.
Types of renewable energy sources
The four main types of renewable energy sources, among which you can choose the one that most interests you and is suitable for your particular needs, are:
- Solar energy
- Wind power
- Geothermal heating
- Solar thermal
- Micro-hydroelectricity system.
By solar energy we refer to the energy produced by photovoltaic panels or, as it is the most common name, solar panels.
These panels collect the energy of the sun and convert it into electricity, thus eliminating the need for power plants, etc. This method guarantees that the energy it consumes is clean and has no negative effect on the environment.
The only drawback of solar energy is that northern countries do not receive enough sunlight throughout the day to produce enough electricity for daily needs. Otherwise, this system requires very little maintenance. You only have to clean the solar panels from time to time, since the dust that accumulates in the panels prevents the total absorption of solar energy.
For comparison, 1.5 kilowatts of energy will produce up to 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and will be maintained for the next 25 years, until they are recycled by nature’s own mechanisms. On the other hand, if you have a solar panel system, you will avoid the need to burn coal, significantly reducing the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In addition, solar panels give the option to expand as a system. You can continue to add more and more panels to your current system. They have up to 25 years of warranty and are even bombproof. They are lightweight and can not weigh more than 20 pounds. It will not be a big problem moving them with you.
The only downside currently is that it can be a bit expensive and the return on investment can go on for many years. On the other hand, since the solar panels are made of a resistant and durable material, it is very possible that they survive you and you can leave them in the hands of your children or grandchildren.
Here are the positive aspects of having a photovoltaic system and connecting it to your home:
- It is more efficient. There is an inverter in the system, which tracks the maximum power curve, instead of tracking the voltage needed to charge the batteries.
- It is also much greener. You can guess why: you do not need batteries to run the system. Batteries contain chemicals, which can be dangerous if the battery leaks; they can emit sulfur and poisonous gases; they eventually wear out and when you throw them away, you contribute to a greater contamination of the environment.
- Solar panels are cheaper compared to the amount of money you must spend on batteries, chargers, controllers, control panels and even generators. This can cost you more than $ 5,000. Of course, this calculation is for people who live outside the network and need to configure an electrical system. However, much of this cost can be alleviated when you file taxes, since most renewable energy facilities (especially solar) are subject to tax exemptions, credits and deductions. If you are already on the network, it may be debatable why you would want to change to PV. The main reason must be the future of your children and grandchildren. By staying in the network, you continue to pollute the environment, relying on dirty non-renewable energy sources, which pollute for hundreds of years.
An interesting fact for solar panels is that, the energy and resources for the production of a solar panel are generated by the solar panel only in a few years, so the solar panel pays its y # 8216; debt in the context of greenhouse gases. It emits quickly and then continues throughout its lifetime to produce only clean energy and free of debt.
Wind power It is not something new for humanity. Hundreds of years ago, the wind was used to generate energy and, later, also for electricity.
A brief history of wind power will allow you to understand why it is so powerful. Wind power goes back to 5000BC. People used to navigate the Nile River and used the wind to do it. The Persians also used the wind to help them pump water and produce flour. The Cretans used the wind to irrigate their arable land and feed their animals.
This is the reason why people in later years are reviving the idea of wind energy. Prices for the establishment of turbines and the production of wind energy have been reduced, making it more accessible and tangible. More turbines have been built in recent decades, so capacity has grown exponentially. It is true that the current global power summarized is not something significant (total wind power can provide electricity to three cities in Miami), but it definitely has the potential to grow if companies take up the idea and develop it.
The only problem with wind power is that it requires large areas to build turbines. Also, this is a very energy and # 8216; diffuse ‘and not as direct as solar radiation. In addition, it is a costly company, due to greater maintenance and material, which may mean higher final prices for households.
In general, for the moment, wind energy and its efficient use and development have a long way to go until their potential is fully deployed. It produces noise and can even be dangerous for birds and bats. Households are not recommended to assemble wind turbines in their homes for these purposes.
However, depending on whether you live in an area / country with wind or not, you can determine if having a domestic wind turbine is right for you or not.
More alternative sources of energy.
Geothermal heating It is based on the idea that thanks to a system, the home can be cooled or heated thanks to the cycles of the Earth and the use of the energy of the Earth. For this to work properly, you need a heat conductor below the surface, which transfers heat from the earth to the home. Therefore, during the winter, your home will use the heat stored below the earth’s crust, while in the summer, the heat will subside below the surface, thus cooling your home.
However, there is a slight concern about this system, since it is not completely renewable. The heat / cool pump needs electricity to operate, and if that electricity does not come from a renewable source, then the positive result of the geothermal heating system can be canceled / neutralized. On the other hand, if your electricity comes from solar or wind energy, then having a geothermal system working in your home could be one of the most efficient sustainable systems.
The positive side of having a geothermal system is that the heat coming from the earth is a renewable resource and is clean. No gas emissions occur while the system is running (no combustion). This system is durable and reliable and can be used for up to 50 years. There is practically no need for maintenance, although it is recommended to prolong its useful life. And also, there is little noise in the work of the pump, so it will not bother you or your neighbors.
The drawbacks are that it is an expensive installation and its installation can be quite expensive. In addition, we already mentioned that it is not efficient if you use conventional electricity sources (which require coal combustion). In some cases, the maintenance of some ground loop systems can be quite expensive.
When it comes to thermal / solar thermal energy, It is still in the beginning of its development. While not as widespread and popular, its advocates believe that it will recover quickly very soon. The difference between solar panels and solar thermal technology is that the former uses solar radiation to produce electricity and energy, while the solar thermal uses the heat of the sun. This means that the closer to the equatorial and tropical areas solar thermal is, the better and more efficient it will work.
Unfortunately, for the time being, solar thermal energy is a costly technology and is only used efficiently in some southern states of the United States, Hawaii and Alaska. On the other hand, some European countries begin to show interest, such as Germany and Austria.
In Spain, some people have installed so-called solar air conditioners. This produces underfloor heating, hot water and air conditioning. Denmark has also recovered from the renewable energy race and has built a large construction with solar panels and solar thermal power plants. As an experiment, they are supplying electricity and heating to 30% of the citizens of a small town in Denmark.
The future of solar thermal energy is bright, as it also provides the opportunity to distill and purify water, which guarantees clean water for entire cities and towns. The only problem may be storage. Since heat and energy are harvested during warm seasons and used during cold seasons, there must be a way to collect that energy efficiently and sustainably. At the moment, this is only possible through the storage of chemicals, in the type of batteries or fuel cells.
Micro hydroelectricity systems. They are efficient for homes and homes near rivers and streams. Therefore, if you live near one, it may be better for you to build a renewable energy system of this type. In general, a system of this type produces 10 kilowatts per year, which can be charged to an average household and even to small tourist complexes and farms. To configure this system, you must install pumps, turbines or hydraulic wheels based on a rotating system.
The idea behind the micro hydroelectric system is that it uses the energy produced by the flowing water. This type of sustainable energy is efficient due to the minimum storage space and space occupied for the system to work. Some systems require channels and pipes, including in some cases pressurized pipes (a.k.a gate).
Thanks to the infinite movement of water, the wheel rotates, turning an axis. These mechanical processes generate energy. If connected to a generator, electricity can be produced as a result. You can also connect the micro hydro system to your main electrical network.
Some systems can convert DC to AC voltage currents. If you do not have a system of this type, there are converters if you need a DC or AC outlet.
If you use a stand-alone micro hydro system, this means that you will have to store the accumulated energy in the batteries (storage of chemicals). Due to the seasonality of micro hydroelectric energy storage may be necessary. If you rely on batteries for energy storage, it is best to keep them near the turbines, where the energy is generated. This is because it is inefficient to transport low voltage energy over long distances.
In micro hydroelectric systems, we can also differentiate two types of turbines: impulse and reaction turbines.
The impulse turbines require the speed of the water for the wheel to turn. The wheel of the turbine is called a corridor. The impulse turbines can also have three categories: pelton, Turgo impulse wheel and Jack Rabbit turbines.
Reaction turbines are more efficient and require pressure for energy production. The turbine wheel is in constant contact with the moving water, while in the meantime the pressure keeps it moving.
Planning of the renewable energy source system.
Before committing to any of the systems mentioned above, you need to know some details.
First, you must do an in-depth analysis of your family’s electricity consumption. By doing this, you will know how much energy and electricity you tend to consume, therefore, you will decide which of the above systems would be most efficient for your needs. Also, take note of the amount of energy you spend during the day and night, that is, energy fluctuations. Also, plan how to minimize your energy consumption and reduce the cost.
To perform all these steps, you must calculate your annual wattage and the daily load in general. Also, determine which devices and devices consume more energy (or less), which are more sustainable and which consume too much. Some appliances, for example, the refrigerator, use electricity at intervals. This voltage load is considered selectable. For example, you could determine which of these selectable items and devices can use energy only at certain times. If that’s okay for you, a smaller source / power plant would be recommended for your home.
If you can commit to a smaller installation, which is also cheaper and more efficient, you could definitely reduce your overall cost. Larger systems (for example, thermal energy) may not be as efficient for some cases. But if you live near a river that could definitely be one of your best options.
You may also have to consult local electricity standards and what is allowed and what is not. There are inspectors who can determine which renewable energy systems are efficient and safe for your area and home. An additional inspection of the piping system can also be made.
In general, you must follow the National Electrical Code (NEC) to receive a full permit to build an alternative energy system. It is advisable to install systems ready to install, and also consult an engineer or inspector when it comes to the installation.
Finally, when all these legal aspects are covered and approved, you can spend some time determining if your preferred alternative energy system is available for your area. You must determine its cost, both for the purchase and for the installation. You must know where and how it will be built (do you have to make any changes to your home or will there not be changes, or may it be installed outside your home)?
How big would the system be? Also consider the cost and time needed to maintain the system. Also check how long it will be usable and if you need to make some updates or annual replacements.
You can also combine two or more sustainable energy systems to improve their ecological impact. A hybrid system is one that combines, for example, water and wind power.
In general, you must do a lot of research to make sure you are making the right decision and it will be optimal for your location, needs and compliance with the law. While you spend time and receive advice from professionals, is there no way you can make a wrong decision?