As environment is becoming a major concern these days, people are getting more and more conscious. Hence, they are taking different steps to save the environment. One of these steps is to switching to green power. Of course, there are many benefits of using green energy. As the earth is the only living planet in our solar system, it is our responsibility to ensure that the environment where we are living in is safe as well as we have to ensure that we are not spoiling it. Switching to renewable energy sources or the green power can help us in improving the environment as well as it can save a lot of money. And the best part is that you can do this all in your backyard. How? Well, read on to know more.
How to live self-sufficiently without relying on external electricity?
Generating your own electricity is great! As mentioned above, it can help you to save your money as well as your environment. You can generate your own power for living in the backyard, but you will still need one backup traditional source of energy. But you will not need it as much as you need it now. You can say goodbye to your huge energy bills and live self-sufficiently without relying much on any external electricity.
Solar energy or power can sufficiently produce up to 3,400 kWh of electricity every year. A solar panel that can produce about 3kW to 4kW of electricity can be enough for a family of 3. Also, the hydropower and wind power can help you to produce electricity. All you have to do is to setup an efficient system that can harness the power of sun, wind or water to provide you with enough electricity to use self sufficiently.
What are the possible alternative power resources?
The possible alternative power resources that you can try in your backyard are – wind power, solar power and water power. Though are few more options available when it comes to alternative energy, only three of these are possible in your backyard. Let us take a look into these 3 power options in details.
- Wind Power: Wind is one of the best and cleanest sources of energy. It is available in abundance and you can use plentiful of it for producing electricity. Wind farms are increasing in number as the green energy resources are getting more and more popular. In order to harness electricity from the wind, you will need to install turbines. Turbines can be easily setup in your backyard. These turbines will be used for driving generators which can then produce electricity for your house. But there are certain laws and regulations that you have to abide by when installing a turbine.
- Solar Power: The next option is the solar energy or power. The sun is the main source of solar energy. We receive sunlight is abundance and it is freely available for utilizing as energy. As long as sunlight is available, you can harness the solar power to produce electricity. But the amount of energy that can be produced depends mainly on the amount of sunlight you are receiving. Though this is quite a popular option for many people, it is available for a limited time. Unlike wind, this is available only in the morning an also it can be a problem during the winter season when the days are shorter and nights are longer.
- Hydropower or Water Power: The most commercially developed renewable energy resource is the water. Hence, hydropower is practically used in many places. You must have already seen dams and barriers. These are used for creating a more controlled flow of the water so that it can drive the turbine and generate some electricity. The hydropower energy source is much more reliable than that of the wind power or solar power. Also, it allows you to store the electricity for using it afterwards if you have reached to the peak.
What do you need?
Once you have got the idea about what type of energy resources you can have in your backyard, it is time to know what you will need. Each of these powers will require different systems.
Things you will need to generate wind power
This is the simplest of all. You will need a high quality domestic wind turbine for generating the winds. The turbines operate on a very simple principle. These are two or three propeller-like blades in the turbine that moves around like a rotor due to the winds. This rotor is connected directly to a shaft which can spin the generator. This will create the electricity. The placement of the turbine, however, is very crucial when it comes to generating power from the wind. The wind turbine has
- Blades: Most of the wind turbines come with two or three blades. These blades lift as well as rotate when the wind is blowing over them. This causes the rotor to spin.
- Rotor & shaft: The blades are connected to the rotor which is connected to the pitch system where the high-speed shaft is. This shaft is responsible for driving the generator.
- Generator: It is the main part of the wind turbine which products the AC electricity that you can use for lighting up your home.
Things you will need to generate solar power
Generating solar power is more complex than it may seem. Installation of the solar panels is a mandatory step. These panels actually use the photons that are produced by the direct sunlight for generating DC (direct current) electricity. When the photos touch the solar panel, they get absorbed by the silicon material which is semiconducting in nature. The things you will need are:
- Solar cells: This is the main thing that you have to use as this is the foundation of your solar power system. A solar panel consists of a collection of different solar cells. Each of these cells can create electrical energy when they get direct sunlight.
- Charge controller: The power output can fluctuate and it depends completely on the amount of sunlight the panel is receiving. As the earth moves, the position of the sun is changing across the sky throughout the day. Hence, the power output can also vary. When the cells don’t receive any solar energy, they don’t produce power. Then you will need a charge controller. It is a device that can help to regulate the power coming directly on the solar panels.
- Battery: The power from the charge controller travels directly to the battery for storage. This battery can help you in storing the power received from the sun.
- Inverter: Batteries or the solar cells can provide with the direct current (DC) power. But there are many electrical devices that need AC power. The inverter helps in converting the DC power to AC power which is suitable for different electrical appliances of your house.
Things you will need for the hydropower/water power
This is one of the best options that you can consider for your backyard. It is cost-efficient and resilient way to produce hydropower or water power. This can, in turn, generate the electricity which you can use in your house. For this, it is better if a river is passing through or by your property. Otherwise, you have to create a flowing water system in your backyard. All you need is:
- Turbine: This is the main part of the hydropower generation. The propellers of the turbine keep on rotating when the water passes through it. Once the electric is generated, it is passed on to the transformer. From there the electricity is used in your home.
- Water reservoir: This is needed when you don’t have a river passing through or by your property. You will need an upper and a lower reservoir to ensure the water is flowing continuously. The turbine should be placed somewhere on this flow of water to generate power.
Turbolent water turbines
The Belgian company Turbolent has developed a very innovative system for generating electricity from hydropower that anyone who has a river on their property can easily install.
The advantage of the systems from the Belgian company Turbolent is that the components are delivered ready for installation.
Systems with different capacities are being built. Depending on the amount of water, different amounts of electricity can be produced.
The great advantage of these systems is, in contrast to wind power or solar power, the water flows 365 days a year. No matter if at night or if there is no wind.
You can take a look at the manufacturer’s website, there is a lot of interesting information about the systems.
What is energy storage?
Producing or generating electricity by solar power, wind power or water power is great. But have you ever thought about storing the energy? Energy storage is actually the capturing of the energy for using it afterwards. Generally, this is done when the production of energy is exceeding than your usage. You have to keep the energy stored. The device that keeps the energy stored is called battery or accumulator. You can store the electricity generated from the solar power, water power and wind power into this energy storage.
You can use the electricity from this storage and it has some great benefits:
- Clean: The best part of the energy storage is that it uses natural renewable resources without causing any carbon footprints. Hence, it can help to keep the environment clean and safe.
- Reliable: It is also reliable as you can store the excess electricity and use it when you will need it. It is stores safely and you can access that whenever you are in need. It is completely reliable.
- Secure: Also it is completely secure to use without causing any trouble. When you are working on producing alternative energy, you have to store it somewhere. You can securely store that in energy storage.
Does the solar panel work in winter?
The most frequently asked question that I often face is whether not the solar panel works when it is winter. The sun doesn’t shine bright during the winter season. That’s true! But the most important thing that you have to know is that the solar panels can create energy from the light of the sun and not from its heat. So, when the photon particles present in the sunlight hit the solar panel, it will generate the electric current. Actually, colder climates can help the solar panels to work more efficiently. According to a research, it has been found that the heat of the sun can actually reduce the production of electricity by the solar panel.
Solar energy is cost-effective and reliable source for generating power. It can help producing power for the homes even during the winter season. The solar panels have the efficiency to supply dependable amount of electricity to homes located in the extreme cold climatic regions too. If your home is properly insulated and it is energy efficient in nature, then you may need fewer panels for the production of power. But if the solar panel is covered with snow, the sunlight cannot reach the panel and it cannot produce electricity. So, you have to make sure that the solar panel is not covered with the snow.
What to do when there is no wind?
Many people ask whether the wind turbine can generate electricity when there is no wind. The short and straight answer to this question is NO. The wind turbines need a minimum wind speed which is also called the cut-in speed to generate electricity. Typically, a modern wind turbine can generate electricity when the speed of the wind reaches about 6 mile to 9 miles per hour. If the wind is too slow and the blades are moving very slowly, it may not generate electricity. It can also produce electricity during the cut-in speed.
Just like the cut-in speed, the wind turbines also come with a cut-out speed. This is speed limit which is the maximum efficiency of the turbine. If the wind is stronger than the cut-out speed, then the wind turbine stops automatically. Too much of wind can potentially damage the turbine and its propellers. Hence, the turbines automatically shut down when the wind speed crosses more than 22 miles to 36 miles per hour.
How many systems do I need to never have to rely on the public power grid again?
As you must have already noticed, though these alternative energy resources can produce a lot of electricity for a single house, having just one is never enough. Of course, you can have one but you will need a backup all the time to ensure that you don’t face blackout. Wind power will not produce sufficient energy when there is no wind. Solar energy will not produce electricity during the evening or night or if the weather is very cloudy. Water power or hydropower is relatively much more reliable but it also comes with certain drawbacks.
Having at least two systems can ensure you to produce enough electricity that you may not have to rely on the public power grid. But not everyone has enough space in their backyard to setup more than one system and also they don’t have enough resource for that. But if you have enough space as well as resource, having a backup alternative power source is always better. For example, if you have a river flowing by your property, use the hydropower along with solar panels too. Or you can also use the wind turbine if your property is located in an open space with lots of wind.
How big your backyard or farm should be?
The area needed for installation of systems is different for different power. When it comes to solar energy, you have to install solar panels that can take up a lot of space in your backyard. Same goes with water power as you have to set the turbine as well as the water reservoirs to ensure proper water flow. But for the wind power, all you need is a wind turbine and a shaft attached to it helps in generating wind. So, it will not take much area in your backyard.
- Solar Power: You will need solar panels for generating electricity from the solar energy. If you choose 315 watt solar panels, then you will need 6 of these panels. Each of these panels needs approximately 18 square feet of area. For 6 panels, you will need 108 square feet of area.
- Wind Power: Though the only thing that you will need in your backyard for generating energy through wind power is a wind turbine, there are certain things you need to know. You may think that you will need a turbine and it will not take much space but there are many rules and regulations for installing a turbine. Ideally, the wind turbine must be installed at least 20 feet above any object surrounding within a radius of 250 feet. The propeller should be given enough space for rotating and the wind to blow.
- Water Power: Making a whole water power system with the flowing water can take up a huge space. It is not possible in a backyard. If any river is flowing through your property, then it is the most convenient option. All you have to do is to consider building a small system for generating electricity. It will not take much space or area in your backyard. A small backyard can even serve the purpose.
Which system delivers the most electricity and is the most efficient?
Although all the three major green energy resources wind, solar and water are highly efficient, the most efficient one is the solar power. The sun is the most consistent factor when it comes to water, wind and sun. So, it can offer you with sunlight throughout the year. But if you ask which one deliver the most electricity, then the answer is different. Hydropower has the highest capability to produce electricity. Since it is highly appreciated all over the world, it is practically used in different part all over the world for producing electricity. The global hydroelectric power can generate about 1295 GW of electricity which is more than 54% of the total renewable power generation.
Advantage of a river on my property
The major advantage of having a river on your property is that you can produce enough electricity self sufficiently survive on the green power. Flow of the river produces current and this current can help to generate electricity. This is called the hydropower or water power. As the hydropower is the best option that can produce maximum electricity, it is best if you can use that. But it is only possible when a river or a stream is flowing on your property. Calling a professional hydropower designer can help you to create a successful mini hydropower station for your house in the backyard. It is cost-effective and the best way to use the renewable resources for producing energy. What will the professionals do?
The professional experts will first examine your house and electricity needs. Based on that, they will design a turbine for harnessing the power of the water to produce electricity. This will be installed on the stream or the river on your property so that they can use the current of the water directly for generating electricity.
You don’t have to worry about the environment. It doesn’t produce any wastes or doesn’t emit any harmful toxins that can be poisonous for the air or for the fishes. It is fish-friendly as well as environment-friendly in nature. Along with that, it is also low in maintenance, long operating life and no risk of flood. It is quite easy to install too. The best part is that you can even use the remote monitoring feature to keep constant tab on the electricity generated. All this is possible in your backyard.
How many watts do I need a day for operating all the devices in my house?
Different devices in your house need different wattage for operation. On an average, a U.S. home uses approximately 900 kWh per month. So, it is about 30 kWh every day. But it can be less or more depending on how many lights, fans and other appliances you have in your house. If you own an electric car like Tesla, then you will definitely need a few extra watts for charging it. Though you may not need to charge the car every day or every week, you will need extra if you have one.
Can I install & operate charging station for Tesla?
Tesla is the modern electric car that needs to be charged. Though it doesn’t use natural gas which is quite a great thing for environment, it can take a lot of electricity for charging. Hence, it is better to install a separate charging station for your Tesla. The battery size of Tesla varies between 50 kW and 100 kW. You will need at least 50 kW of power to charge the Tesla. Depending on the model you have, you can install a station separately which can generate electricity from water, sun or wind to power up your Tesla car.
Benefits of buying an electric vehicle
As the world is getting more and more conscious about their environment, people are taking baby steps to make things right. One of the major reasons behind global warming is the vehicles. The vehicles often use fossil fuel or natural gas which can emit gases that are harmful for the environment. Hence, it is always better to opt for an eco-friendly option. It makes more sense when people choose to buy an electric vehicle like Tesla over the diesel or petrol cars. Why? Take a look at the benefits:
- Cheaper to run: As the owners of the electric vehicle will know, an electric car is actually a lot cheaper to run. You don’t have to pay a hefty fuel bill to get your vehicle on the roads and drive it. You can simple charge the battery and get stared.
- Cheaper to maintain: As there is no function of fuel in it that means there is no residue of fuel in it. So, over all there is lesser chance of any toxins in it or anything that needs to be cleaned properly. Lesser maintenance means more savings.
- Great for environment: If you don’t have to use fuel means no more utilization of the non-renewable energy sources. Your car will not emit any gas or toxins that can be harmful for the air. Hence, it is also great for the environment.
- Health benefits: The next is that an electric car can ensure better and healthier life. Ultimately, it is us who consume or breathe in the toxins and harmful gases that are around us. When the car emits harmful gases, we inhale it leading to several health issues. Electric cars don’t emit any harmful gases. It is good for health.
So, it is better to switch to an electric car or vehicle for a much cleaner and safer environment around you. All you have to do is to set up an electric charging station utilizing one of the green energy systems to charge the battery of your car.
Can I install these systems myself?
Well, all these systems for producing green energy need precision and calculations. Only an experience, skilled and properly trained professional can do it. If you have complete knowledge on the solar energy, wind energy and water energy, then also you will need a professional expert as installation of the systems need a lot of care and precautions. You can also call up a professional expert who can always come to you and help you out. Also, they will check the size of your backyard first and chalk out a proper plan for installation of the system. A professional will know how the systems must be accurately installed and how much space it will need to function or operate. Check out the best professional service with the most experience in this field. They can help you with this.
What is the total cost to expect?
The cost of installation of the solar panel or wind turbine or water power station can vary from one system to another. You can expect an initial cost somewhere between $8,000 and $14,000. It depends on many other factors like the total usage of the solar panel, design of the turbine and the project size. You have to discuss with the professional to get a proper estimation. But don’t stick with one. You can always shop around. Ask for the quotations from different professional experts to know who can provide the best and most efficient work at the best price. Make sure the professional you choose is a licensed one with proper knowledge about all the laws as well as local rules and regulations.
Importance of green energy
We can’t stress more on how beneficial it is to use the green energy or power such as wind power, solar energy and water power. It can help in different ways like:
1. Less global warming
Over the time, several human activities that are overloading on our atmosphere with the carbon dioxide are causing global warming. More electricity you use, more carbon footprints are generated. This is harmful for the environment as well as for your health. Carbon dioxide acts like a blanket on the earth’s surface which is also trapping the heat. Most of the emissions come from the fossil fuels. That is why green power resources are the best.
2. Improved health of people
The emission from the natural gas or coal can cause water and air pollution. This can be quite harmful for us as this can cause serious health issues. These issues include cancer, neurological problems, breathing issues, hearth attacks and many more. Switching to solar, wind or water power can help you to decrease this emissions causing better environment.
3. Renewable energy
Another benefit of using the solar energy or wind energy is that they are inexhaustible energy. They provide a vast amount of energy which you can use for your basic household needs. The sun power or the wind is always there. They are not limited and hence you can always produce it whenever needed.
4. Save your money
Another benefit of choosing alternative power resources is that it can help you to save money. The sun, wind and water are free to use. You can use these unlimited resources to generate power and power up the devices and lights in your home. This can help you to save a lot of money as you will not have to pay hefty electricity bills.
Though setting up green energy station in your backyard can cost you a lot initially, in the long run it will provide you with a lot of benefits. You can save a lot of money for the rest of the year. The systems pay off within few days of installation. First few days can be a bit tough for you to cope up with the electricity produced. But once it starts producing and storing the electricity, you will have it in abundance. You can utilize the electricity for different purposes and to operate all the appliances or devices in your house.