In my first article I went into a little detail as to what I am doing with my off grid cabin. I told you about how I was cutting the ties from the electric company and cutting ties with bankers and all others who were making money off my consumption.
This article is going to talk about alternative energy ideas for those of you interested in cutting the high costs of utility bills. Many people can benefit from this article. Even if you do not decide to go completely "off grid" as I have done, you can certainly use solar and wind to offset the cost of living no matter where you live.
Many people have heard of green energy and most people have heard of solar and wind power. If you are like me, you were probably thinking at one time that these types of energy alternatives were just too expensive and difficult to use. While solar and wind energy products can be expensive, you can also build your system slowly to offset this cost over time. This is how I began my journey into this wonderful and free alternative to paying high prices for externally made power.
There is a debate that has been raging over the years about which type of energy production is better, wind power or solar power. This often has to do with your location and not the ability of either type of technology. While solar power my not be the best option in a place that never sees sun, wind power would also not be a great option in a place that never sees any wind. Each product has its place and both work equally well if used in the right place.
Many people, including myself have gone to a "hybrid" energy system which includes both solar and wind. The reason this is so effective is because often in the summer we get a lot of sun so the solar panels really produce well. In the winter, we don't get much sun but the winds of winter really kick up and that is when the wind power comes in handy. By using both systems, I have a better chance of producing energy on a more consistent basis.
All of these solar panels and wind turbines are pretty much useless without batteries. Batteries may seem like a pretty simple thing to find and use but it is actually a critical element when you are planning for a system. There are many types of batteries out there on the market from simple car batteries to deep cycle marine batteries and even golf car batteries. The first of these that we can rule out is your standard car battery. Car batteries do not have the holding capacity needed for a solar and wind system and even worse, they are not able to recover from being drained of power very well. You will at the very least need deep cycle batteries to use with such a system. This can be in the form of deep cycle marine batteries used in boats to the more popular golf cart batteries. An important thing to remember when looking at any of these batteries is the "Amp hours" that the battery has. The basic rule is the more amp hours a battery has, the longer it will last. While this may seem like a frivolous thing, you will thank me for it when your batteries keep producing power even on a cloudy day.
How many solar panels does one need to live comfortably? This is a good question and one that needs to be addressed as soon as you begin this journey. Most of us may not realize just how much power we consume each day. Leaving lights on, a radio or television and any other devices on really adds up fast. The best way to calculate how much power you use is to simply grab an energy bill or two and look at your power consumption. This will give you an ideas as to how much energy you will need to produce on your own which in turn will give you a good idea of how large your solar or wind system will need to be. Again I will emphasize batteries! You will need a lot of them to keep your home running smoothly so choose wisely. As an example, I use 6 volt deep cycle golf cart batteries wired in series. These produce high amp hours and give me the most bang for the buck. As a very loose example of price, because it will vary greatly because of time, location, and availability, for two 6 volt golf cart batteries, I paid around 160 dollars. I now have 10 of them so the cost is there, but if you build up as you can afford them, you will be able to do it without it hurting as bad.
Wind power systems are not cheap. I bought a 400 watt wind generator for around 300 dollars on Amazon not too long ago and that produces quite well. I suggest searching online for the highest wattage and lowest price. Also note that you can choose between 12 volt and 24 volt systems. I prefer 12 volt units as this is how I run my home.
This was just a brief introduction into the realm of off grid power. I hope you join me in future articles where we will talk about other systems, ideas and procedures to make your life better while reducing costs of living.