Renewable energy is energy collected from naturally resupplied and inexhaustible resources, including sunlight, wind, and water.
Traditional forms of electricity, specifically fossil fuels, are finite, meaning it’s gradually diminishing until it eventually runs out. Additionally, fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide and other harmful gases into the atmosphere, escalating pollution and resulting in global warming.
Renewable energy is a cleaner and more sustainable alternative that is increasing in popularity. For environmentally-conscious homeowners, switching to renewable energy is a simple way to make a big difference.
Understand the reality of renewable energy and the top 3 types to discover the ideal solution for powering your home.
1. Solar Power
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into usable electricity.
Solar power generation is accomplished by installing solar panels on adequate rooftops or large outdoor areas. Solar panels contain various parts, including silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing, and wiring.
Photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight during the day. Each cell contains a semiconductor, which creates an electrical current when the cell is energized by light. Energy generated by the sun is direct current (DC) electricity; however, homes generally require alternating current (AC) electricity. DC electricity is converted into AC electricity using a solar panel’s inverter.
Once the energy is converted, solar power is distributed to the electric panel and throughout the house.
Residential Solar vs. Community Solar
Solar power is primarily accessed through residential solar and community solar.
Residential solar refers to the installation of a solar power system on your property.
Installing a solar power system requires ideal rooftop conditions. Evaluate the size, slope, direction, material, age, and shade of your roof to discover whether it’s a viable candidate. Determine the solar power system size and number of solar panels by calculating the kilowatt-hours of power necessary for covering your home’s energy consumption. On average, 28-34 solar panels are required, which costs anywhere between $10,000 to $40,000.
Community solar refers to a group of people sharing electricity generated by harnessing solar power.
A utility company, government organization, or private business will install numerous solar panels in a certain community. The energy produced at the solar farm is then delivered to the power grid and distributed by the utility company to homes and businesses. Members of the community are offered the opportunity to lease solar power. Joining community solar is as simple as finding local solar farms and subscribing to the service.
Recognize residential solar and community solar opportunities to determine if solar power is perfect for your home.
2. Wind Power
Wind power is the conversion of wind into electricity.
Wind power is harnessed through wind turbines by utilizing wind energy to mechanically power and turn electric generators. Factors that impact a wind turbine’s power include:
- Wind speed: Higher wind speed generates more power
- Air density: Denser air adds greater pressure, resulting in higher power
- Blade radius: Larger blades capture more kinetic energy to increase power
Two types of wind turbines exist: Horizontal-axis turbines and vertical-axis turbines. Horizontal-axis wind turbines are the most common type, containing three blades and operating facing the wind. Vertical-axis wind turbines come in a variety of styles and are omni-directional, meaning facing the wind isn’t required for operation.
Generally, wind turbines are found in land-based wind farms or offshore locations; however, homeowners with ample space can build individual wind turbines to power a home. Wind turbine construction can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $75,000 depending on the location and turbine size.
Learn about wind turbines to understand if wind power is optimal for home.
3. Water Power
Water power is the conversion of water’s movement into electricity.
Water power, otherwise known as hydro power, is captured by falling or fast-running water being diverted through a pipe to turn blades in a turbine and spin a generator to create electricity.
Hydropower is an uncommon but not impossible energy source for homeowners that requires access to a source of flowing water. Installation costs for water turbines range from $1,000 to $10,000 based on type and size. Install the system at the largest vertical distance the water will travel to receive the best results.
Discover if harnessing water power is a potential option for your home.
Review the top 3 types of renewable energy to find the best energy solution for powering your home.