Has anyone installed solar panels and/or a windmill? I would like to hear of your experiences. How did you get started? Did you use a contractor? If so, how did you find one? Have you covered all of your electricity needs this way? Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks.
By RDLaure from North East
I have done neither but one can not install a wind generator in my town. The town council is working to have some rules in effect for wind generators. So far they have proposed for a home owner to install a wind generator the home owner has to have a min of 2 acres and the generator can not be over 100 feet high. It willl be awhile before the rules will be in effect. Wind generators can be noisy. As for solar power units,why not contact a solar installer and ask for a list of customers you can call and ask them how the solar panels are working.
I've been looking into alternative energy for my home for a while now. Foxrun is right about the rules for having a wind generator. But there are smaller turbines that create less noise and can be attached to the roof instead of stand-alone.
In my opinion installing these things is not a DIY project. Unless you are extremely knowledgeable about electricity and fairly ambitious. And you have to do your own research to find a system that works for you. There are a ton of companies out there that specialize in Alt energy, they would be able to guide you toward the right type of system for your home. Besides solar and wind, you also might want to look at GeoTerm.
Beyond picking the type of system or systems you want to install, you have to decide if you are going off the grid completely, or Netmetering back to the Electric Co. I think that net metering is the better option, but that's just my opinion.
If you want to start off small, you can look into passive heat collectors that you can build and install. There are instructions on Instructables.com
Go to the EPA's web site, there is information and links that will tell you about different government (state and federal) grants that you might qualify for. Google is a great resource for finding companies and contractors that will help you.
I have done it for 20 years in the Yukon. Unless you are too far from the grid, alternate electricity is an expensive hobby. It is a lot of fun for a tinkerer, but it will NOT pay for itself in your lifetime.
Noise is not a problem with a decent windmill. They make about the same wind noise as a tall tree. The problem is
storage, same as with solar. "Enough batteries" is a myth, and "almost enough" is an expensive nuisance. And you will still need a Diesel for back-up and heavy chores.
What does pay off is water heating and intelligent design. Same as with electricity, the key is storage. For example, if you have rock, brick or concrete walls, put the insulation on the OUTSIDE, and use the walls for heat storage in winter and cool storage in summer.
Use a greenhouse or lean-to greenhouse and vent the hot air from the gable through a truck radiator into a chimney, or use a solar panel to power a circulating fan. You will have as much or more usable heated water as an expensive roof panel installation at a tiny fraction of the cost. The greenhouse or lean-to does not need glass. Cheap bubble-wrap works just fine. Fresh lettuce and tomatoes are a fringe benefit.
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Thank you for the feed back. I have been reading up on the subject for awhile in the hopes that I can become a little more self-sufficient, and not have to sign my life over to the utility companies.
I understand with some windmills, probably the larger ones, they create a weird sound which can be very disturbing to people. Also in colder climates pieces of ice can be "thrown" a long way which might be dangerous to those in the area. What about the potential for killing birds? With solar it's very costly for what you get in return. Also the panels need to be replaced in about 15 years. Get a copy of TIME Magazine from Jan 09. read the article by M. Grunwald. The waste of energy every day in this Country is enough to power Japan. We don't need to create more wasted electricity via solar and wind! <p>We should be closing old, dangerous nuclear plants and dirty coal fired ones. Let us use "all" the energy produced in a wise manner by insisting on smart grids, and time of use rates. The utility companies don't want this known, as they would rather $stick it to the general public. Also many of our utility companies are owned by non-Americans. Go figure! <p>Beware of companies that tell you for little money you can "build" your own solar panels. This does not work. Tell your Electric Company you want a time of use rate, smart meter, and get an energy storage system like a Mr. Electricity then you really have a chance to save money. Plus if you lose power you have an energy backup system for your home, or business. See www.mrelectricity.com for more information.
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