It is essential to consider your current electricity consumption, local building rules and requirements, whether you want to be connected to or independent from the electric grid, and the available technologies when planning for a renewable energy system at home.
Perhaps you’ve considered installing a renewable energy system to power your home. Many appreciate the freedom they get and the assurance that their activities are helping the environment, even though it takes time and money to learn about, purchase, and maintain a system.
Home renewable energy system planning entails examining your current electricity consumption, researching local regulations, selecting whether or not to connect to the electric grid, and learning about available technologies. If you are developing a new home, you may make it more energy efficient by incorporating a modest renewable energy system into the whole-house design with the help of your builder and contractor.
Examining How Much Power You Use
The first step in researching renewable energy systems for your house or small company is to figure out how much electricity you use. When you do a load analysis, you keep track of the total wattage, and daily usage of everything hooked into your home’s main power supply, including the refrigerator, lighting, screens, and power tools.
Your refrigerator is always drawing power, but your power tools only use it sometimes. A selected load is an electrical appliance or appliance that uses electricity on an as-needed basis. It is possible to reduce the size of your renewable energy system by turning on your selectable loads during peak production. If you take steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency before purchasing a renewable energy system, you’ll be able to cut back on your electricity consumption and save money.
Small-scale renewable energy systems following local regulations
Adding a small renewable energy system to your house or company will necessitate compliance with local and state standards and regulations. Because of these rules, you may be limited in your choice of the renewable energy system and in your ability to hire a specific contractor to put it in place. They can also influence whether or not you opt to link your system to the electrical grid or use it independently.
You can find out what is required in your area by contacting a local renewable energy company or organization, the energy office in your state, or your local government. These organizations may also assist in understanding and meeting the grid-connection criteria of your electricity supplier.
Inspectors check that your electrical and construction systems are up to code. The purpose of the building inspector is to ensure that the new addition will not pose any danger to the public. Your system may need to undergo electrical and plumbing inspections to meet the code.
Before issuing a building permit, many zoning boards and planning commissions must approve your application for a conditional use permit or a variation from the established code. Before purchasing a renewable energy system, you should check with the local agency responsible for building codes to find out if and when it will be required to pass inspection.
Easements are binding, mutually agreed upon arrangements between the owners of two or more parcels of land that are contiguous and recognized by the law in some jurisdictions. By illustration, you may try to get an easement preventing the construction of anything that would cut off access to a renewable resource needed to power a renewable energy system. If the land is sold, the agreement remains in effect. In addition, a title search of your deed might reveal whether or not there are any pre existing easements or other arrangements that could restrict you from installing a renewable energy system on your land.
Regional Treaties and Regulations
Homeowners in some areas may be limited in their actions by restrictive covenants or other community laws. Sometimes these rules prevent people from using renewable energy systems due to concerns about how they look or how loud they are. However, stipulations favoring renewable energy systems are sometimes included in these rules. For further information, contact your HOA or local government. If you wish to head off future public protests, you can also consider telling your neighbors about your plans.
Independent or Linked to the Grid
Some people plug their systems into the grid and use them to lessen their reliance on traditional power sources. If your system is connected to the electricity grid, you can sell any energy surplus back to the grid operator.
The major components of a small renewable energy system are not all that’s needed for a grid-connected system, though; you’ll also need to invest in some supplementary items to ensure the reliable delivery of power to your loads and satisfy the regulations set forth by your electricity service provider Measurement and control instruments, as well as power conditioning and safety gear, may fall under this category.
Many others, especially in outlying locations, rely on their systems to generate electricity and replace utility-supplied power. Stand-alone or “off-grid” methods refer to those that operate independently from any other infrastructure.
Power conditioning hardware, safety devices, meters, and instrumentation are also part of the balance-of-system for standalone systems, but a charge controller and batteries are also required.
Deciding on the Best Renewable Energy Technology
Understanding the fundamentals of the various renewable energy technologies is the first step toward selecting the most appropriate small renewable power system for your home.
If you switch to renewable energy to power your home, you may never have to pay another utility bill again, and you may even save money thanks to tax benefits. Several options for using renewable energy sources to meet your home’s energy needs are provided below.
- Rooftop Solar Panels
This is the most typical and straightforward approach if you’re interested in renewable energy. Although most solar panels are installed on rooftops, they can also be placed in the ground. Ten watts per square foot or more may be produced based on your location and the panels’ orientation. Since most homes need at least a kilowatt of electricity, a small array of solar panels might satisfy your demands.
Solar shingles are an option to explore if your current roof is getting old and will soon need to be replaced. Whereas conventional rooftop solar panels are installed in addition to your existing roof, solar shingles are installed in place of your roof tiles. SolarCity, Elon Musk’s company, recently revealed plans to begin manufacturing solar shingles, joining others like SunTegra that have been in the industry for quite some time.
One major drawback of solar power is that it can only be used when the sun is out. Powering your home at night requires either purchasing grid electricity or installing a second renewable energy source.
- Wind Turbines
If you have enough land, you can install a tiny wind turbine to generate electricity for your home, even though these machines are more frequently seen in wind farms or floating offshore. A wind turbine has some drawbacks that prevent it from being widely used in residential areas. They’re often noisy and unsightly. They’re room eaters, and some cities have outright bans due to zoning restrictions and other legislation.
Wind power could be very beneficial if these drawbacks don’t concern you or don’t apply to your situation. A good-sized wind turbine can reliably provide all or nearly all of your home’s electrical demands, and wind power is more consistent than solar. Wind energy may be more helpful renewable than solar, depending on where you live.
- Solar Oven
There’s no pressure to switch to renewable energy just yet. Because of the magnitude of the undertaking, it may be impossible to complete for various reasons. Installing a solar oven is one way to continue using renewable energy to power a portion of your house.
Although solar ovens may seem like a good idea for a science fair project, ovens consume considerable power. One easy method of utilizing renewable energy is to passively heat meals using sunlight. Sunlight is captured by the solar oven and used to cook food. A solar oven can be purchased or fashioned at home with simple tools and supplies.
A solar oven’s many benefits include its ability to heat food for free and continue functioning in a blackout or other emergency. Never again will a power outage force you to eat a dinner that has gone cold.
- Hydro Power
Not everyone will have any success with this, but if you have a water source on your land, you’re in luck. The water from the river or stream can be redirected, in whole or in part, to a turbine that will generate electricity for your home.
One method involves determining the greatest possible vertical distance that water can go and then channeling that water in a controlled manner through a turbine. Depending on the height and volume of the water, this method can generate a lot of electricity. Hydropower generator installation is not a simple DIY project, and you may need to hire a pro. But if you know your way around a workshop and have a head for engineering, you can construct one for yourself.
The benefits of hydropower are substantial, as well. Hydro provides a constant and reliable input compared to variable sources like solar and wind. You may rest assured that your generator will always provide adequate power for your home. A small technical effort could be well worth the peace of mind it provides.
- Solar Water Heating
Solar energy can be used for more than just making electricity. Solar energy is another option for domestic heating.
Sunlight is used to warm water in a storage tank, which can subsequently be distributed to various home points, such as the radiators, the sinks, and the showers. Compared to other water heating methods, such as gas or electricity, this system is more cost-effective and requires less effort to set up than solar panels. Solar water heating is viable for transitioning your home to renewable energy sources.
Be sure to choose the solar water heating system that best suits your needs; there are many different models, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
- Solar Air Conditioning
Although it may sound counterintuitive, solar air conditioning uses the sun’s heat to provide indoor cooling. As solar water heaters work, solar air conditioners convert solar-heated water into usable cooling energy.
The electricity needed to run your air conditioner is far more than any other household appliance. If you have central air and live in a warm region, your annual cooling costs could be high. Instead of using cold water for cooling, you can use hot water and save money and energy.
The hot water created by your air conditioner can be used in other ways around the house, which is an excellent addition. Depending on the specifics of your installation, you can reap the benefits of solar water heating while also enjoying the added comfort of air conditioning.
- Tesla Powerwall
Although the Powerwall is not a renewable energy source, it is compatible with all renewable home generators and can save money when used alone.
The Powerwall is an enormous, rechargeable battery that can hold enough energy for several thousand Watt-hours. It can be set to charge from the grid during low electricity costs and discharge during high prices, saving you money even during peak hours.
But, the Powerwall is most effective with another renewable energy generator. Because the Powerwall can store electricity for later use, you may continue using clean, renewable sources even when the sun goes down or the wind dies.
One of the significant drawbacks of renewable energy is that it is subject to swings, but the Powerwall can mitigate this issue. Due to pending legislation, there is also the possibility of getting a tax break for hooking up your Powerwall to the grid.
When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages of installing renewable energy systems in the home, the advantages far outweigh the financial savings. They can rest easy knowing they are making a positive contribution to the world around them. It also makes it possible to reduce or eliminate reliance on traditional power sources. For homeowners going entirely off the grid, the choice of renewable energy sources requires a long period of adjustment.
Before investing, homeowners should learn the regulations and rules about residential renewable energy systems. Before switching to a system powered by renewable energy in your home, be sure everything is up to code.