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Sep
29

How simple is it to convert a house to run on solar power? electrical power produced by wind?

Question by elvic15: How simple is it to convert a house to run on solar power? electrical power produced by wind?
Which one is easier to install on a house: solar power system or wind power system?

Best answer:

Answer by browneyedgirl482
Photovoltaic cells can be used to provide all or some of the electrical needs of a house.
A photovoltaic array of suitable size can supply the needs of the house is mounted either on the roof or on some type of ground or pole mount.
The panels supply power to run the house and also store energy in a bank of deep cycle batteries.
The batteries are especially designed for solar applications, and will supply the power to run the house during periods of darkness or low sun.The cells produce DC current, usually at 12V or 24V.
An inverter is used to convert DC to 110V AC, and supply power to the house.
The inverter is connected, through an isolation switch, to the main breaker box, which would normally be connected to the power grid.
A house can be run by solar and / or wind power alone (a standalone system) or it can still be connected to the grid, drawing power from the grid when necessary or feeding power back into the grid when the renewable energy system produces in excess of the needs for the house.
A block diagram of a typical solar system is shown on the left.

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7 comments

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  1. Zeltar says:

    A solar power system is easier to install “on” a house. A windmill is installed on a tower. Both can use similar mechanisms to charge batteries, and connect to the electric grid.

  2. grizzbr1 says:

    Both are simple, both are expensive. A little wind turbine is cheap but the batteries and inverter to convert to 120AC are still expensive.

  3. Scott L says:

    It’s actually quite simple, but it will cost you.

    Secondly, unless you either buy alot of excess capacity, or connect to the electric company, good luck powering your demand for the A/C and other large loads. Especially on cloudy days. I guess you could buy a S***load of batteries though. Wind, pretty much the same thing, and even more unreliable in most parts of the country me thinks.

  4. Belladonna says:

    Simplest, cheapest, greenest and most effective way is to insulate, stop all the drafts, and reduce your use of electricity.

    They reckon that if you are OK at DIY you should be able to fit solar panels yourself. We got our solar panels from ttp://www.navitron.org.uk/ the company was fantastic, if you are installing yourself they will help you with working out what you need to buy for optimum results. You need to apply for building regs. They are extremely heavy to maneuver and be prepared the tubes are very delicate so can smash if you move them. Navitron solar panels are now on Clearskies register http://www.clear-skies.org/households/RecognisedProducts.aspx?intTechnologyID=24
    so you can apply for a grant if it is installed for you.

    Usually, to get a wind turbine big enough to be efficient, you do not have the option of installing it yourself. Wind turbines are great but prohibitively expensive still. The smaller ones are a lot cheaper but don’t produce anywhere enough energy so are still not cost effective for example the B&Q one http://www.diy.com/diy/jsp/bq/nav/nav.jsp?isSearch=true&fh_search=wind+turbine&selected=products&x=0&y=0

    If you want to build a windturbine yourself try The Not Easy Being Green Forum
    http://www.itsnoteasybeinggreen.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=27

  5. looey323 says:

    Solar.

    Wind power requires a tall tower, room for it so it will not hit neighbors or other property no matter which way it falls, and height so there can be large enough blades to absorb the power safely.

    I have not seen many home-sized ones, and most of them had been broken in higher-than-expected winds, judging from the wreckage, and never put back up, or repaired.

    Wind power only works well in continuous high winds…the power varies with the square of the wind speed, so the array that gives you 2KW for your house with a strong 20 mph wind
    will only give you 0.5KW in a still hefty 10 mph wind, and a nice summer breeze at 2.5 mph gives you only about 31 watts…won’t even light a large light bulb.

    Apparently simply not economical generally.

    Solar requires a very very large area exposed to the full sun and does not work well under clouds, and of course not at all at night.

    Therefore you have to pay for enough solar panel area to make the electricity you need AND charge the batteries for the nights and the rainy days. And big enough batteries to tide you over, which could be several days in one of our winter storms! A whole double-garage full of them if you plan to have lights and air circulation and TV and Internet, etc.

    Actually, the basement full, since cold reduces the battery efficiency, so they have to be kept warm.

    I have a mountain-top hermit friend who is solar, except he does have a large shed, nearly as large as his 2-room cabin, for his batteries AND a diesel generator for longer storms and cloudy days. He has a 16 foot square array, and from that he can light 3-4 40 watt lamps, and watch his 14″ B./W TV for about 2 hours at night if the day was sunny…or the generator is gulping oil, and he also can use his cell telephone which requires a 3W booster. He is WAY out!

    Solar cell technology is improving, as newer and more exotic materials come along and better fabrication methods, but to get enough power to run big TVs and all the modern gizmos still takes hundreds of watts of power, hence you’d need a yardfull of solar cells to go with your roof-full, and a huge battery bank to back them up…and maybe a 5KVA diesel and 500 gallon oil tank to back up the batteries in bad weather.

    Dunno how much money would be saved either way..break-evens would be far down the way. And all the parts that have to be manufactured and spares stocked would cause lots of pollution at the manufacturing plant site, which you have to figure into the total environmental costs.

  6. Adam Beazley says:

    For the best cost-benifit, you should first spend money to make your home more energy efficient.
    change all windows and appliances to energy star.
    seal air leaks
    get propper insulation
    et..

    Once you have done that, you will not have to spend as much on the alternative energy source, which are expensive if you choose to buy.
    Wind turbines are good, but it all depends on your location and how much juice you can generate from the wind.
    Solar can prety much be adapted anywhere, but again each location has different solar ratings.

    Now about converting the house to run on the alternative energy, it totally depends how you want to do it. The cheapest and easiest way is to have a grid connected system, where all excess electricity will go back into the electrical grid, where you can pull from later (if you are in a state where you have net meetering).
    If you want an inverter and battery system to be totally off the grid, solar and wind both have a very similar back end inverter and battery system, so again it goes back to what is best for your location.

  7. FredHH says:

    neither is all that hard to install.

    The problem is the cost.

    $ 30,000 worth of stuff to go solar…

    wind power… $ 100,000 for the wind turbine alone.

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