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Whats better solar or wind ?


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#1 skyrydr2 ONLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 05:43 AM

I want to do my part to help cut down my "carbon" foot print , but have no idea yet, on what avenues to look down? Would wind be better? It is always breezy here? Or should I go solar? And if solar ,should I do thermal or electricity ? One way or another I am going to do something, I hate giving moneys to oil companies! I feel they are gouging worse than lawyers!

#2 NUTNDUN OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 08:13 AM

We have been debating doing solar or wind power. We would do it for electricity though. A lot of times our electric bill is over $300 and has hit as high as $400 this past summer.

If you are in a good sunny spot that gets sun for the majority of the day then solar might be the way to go. Since the panels are a little less intrusive. I would also weigh the costs and doing a wind study to get average wind speed at different heights wouldn't be a bad idea either so you can get more accurate figures of which would be more beneficial.

#3 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 08:44 AM

I'm not an expert in either, but there has been a change in the way wind turbines are being made. The new ones use an outer rim, where the blades are already turning fastest, to generate electricity. I suspect they are more efficient than the old way of gearing up a generator from the turbine shaft.

#4 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 09:14 AM

That is a good question. One I think each of us has to research and decide for themselves. There is a Wind Farm just 8 miles North of me and I can see the towers from my home. I have been toying eith the idea for about 10 yrs now, and am thinking a little of both. I did find some info that stated that there were 34 days per year that My part of Iowa did not get enough wind to power a wind turbine.
There are two factorys in Newton, TBI, who makes the propellers(niece and her husband works for them) and Trinity Towers that builds the towers(couple friends work there).
I do know for a fact I will be installing a solar powered electric Fence next spring, to keep the deer out of my garden. Or, a friend(no longer with us) used an old Ford Generator and put a Ford Fan on it, mounted it on a post with a swivel and powered his electric fence with it.
And probaby 20 yrs ago my brother was supplementing his heat with a home made Passive solar panel, made from soda pop cans.
Read all you can. I don't think any one method is the end all answer. I believe a combination is going to be the answer. Like George said, the info on wind studys is on the net,
Being on top of a hill for the past year, I can only think of 1 day there was not a breeze.

Edited by JD DANNELS, January 05, 2012 - 09:19 AM.


#5 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 11:15 AM

The first thing to do is to have your home evaluated and look for oportunities to insulate, improve heating system efficiency and seal drafts etc. This is your most cost effective first step. The other thing is evaluating your energy usage and identifying behavior changes that can reduce your consumption. It is almost always much cheaper to reduce consumption then to generate an equivelant amount of power. Wind is only good if you have the resource and the space to site a large enough turbine to actually make a dent in your consumption. A 5ft turbine won't do much for a big power bill. The biggest bang for your buck in alt. energy is to install a solar hot water system, providing you have a decent southish exposure to the sun. The reason is pretty simple. When you need heat in the winter you have far less sun available to provide it. The cold temps also reduce your efficiency. You need hot water all year so you can take advantage of the greater solar resource in the summer months. I have a 2 panel system on my house and it works well. Solar PV has come down in cost and there are rebates in some juristictions but the overall cost is still prohibitive for many people. It's a really fascinating industry and a lot of fun to look at what's possible.

#6 drbish ONLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 04:41 PM

I agree with Brian the most wasted energy source is hot water i would bet 95 percent of us on here still use the old fashion water heater,the inline heaters have been around since i know for 35 years,i would think that is a good place to start,which i have not

#7 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 04:44 PM

I have been reading up on this for a few months. We plan to build a new home (someday.....), and are going to try and make it as "green" as possible. As said before, there are a lot of things that you can do to lower your consumption, especially if working off a clean sheet (or foundation, as the case may be...).

My take so far, for what it's worth... Solar (heating) seams the be the cheapest and easiest investment in this relm. Usually these are suplimental systems to to minimize your use of existing systems, so you have the backup system for when the solar doesn't provide enough heat. You can make heat batteries to store the soar heat for use in the evening hours. Systems are simple and can be home made.

Solar (electric) - 2 different phylosophies - solar power while the sun shines to lower your electric use (supplimental) and off grid systems that REPLACE your electric use. Supplimental pricing depends on your level of buy-in. Off grid systems require batteries and storage, so the price can get pretty steep!

Wind - depending on your area and the wind factor, wind can be a big producer - same two possibilities as solar electric for lowering your bill or replacing the power company. Wind provides a much bigger bang per buck, but the buy in is MUCH larger as well.

Depending on your utility company, you may be able to "sell back" your surplus power, but don't expect a lot of money out of them - they usually "pay" at their lowest wholesale rate, if at all.

So far, we are looking at solar heating (to go with an outdoor wood fired boiler), with hopes of going to wind power (supplimental) down the line. But prices keep changing, so all bets are off out of a 2 year or so window...

#8 DH1 ONLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 05:04 PM

I have found from searching that the best single source of INFO on all aspects of Solar Energy is here.
This site is huge.

> BuildItSolar: Solar energy projects for Do It Yourselfers to save money and reduce pollution <

It has all kinds of info on what the average person can do to reduce there energy costs.
From large expensive high tec, to the simplest cheapest systems out there.
You can see what other people have done and the results they got.
Also contains a large section on what can be done to reduce you energy use, 1/2 off program.
  • skyrydr2 said thank you

#9 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 07:10 PM

Good link Doug. I used to check that site all the time when I was studying up on solar heat. One principal people should keep in mind is what I mentioned above. It is almost always much cheaper to reduce power consumption then to produce power. It's not glamorous or as fun as playing around with Alt. Energy technology but it should be the first step. Getting a good handle on the amount of energy you are using is a very sobering process. When you start to look at the cost of generating that energy yourself you get a better feel for the magnitude of the problem.

#10 Michiganmobileman OFFLINE  

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Posted January 05, 2012 - 08:34 PM

:yeah_that::ditto:A lot of good practical advice from the guys above.
I have to agree strongly with JDBrian, the first place to spend money should be in energy efficiency not production. When you get ready for alternative energy consider how you will use it, as said above electric, hot water, etc. Remember to figure in maintenance costs, I would expect a turbine to require some maintenance, where solar hot water may need little. And there is also the Murphy rule that says the more expensive a replacement part is the more likely the original part will fail. Try to keep things simple where possible. Even a good southern exposure with the right windows can work wonders in heat gain in the winter. Going off the grid is great but not if you have to run to town to get repair supplies.:smilewink:
For any one doing new construction or when possible in remodeling look into the spray foam insulation. We had that done(Walls) when we built in 2008 and it was the BEST thing we did when we built. Second best thing was an Air to Air heat pump instead of a standard Air Conditioner, if you have central air planned for new construction or are replacing an old central air unit you should ask your contractor about the price difference for an A/A HP. Third was a fireplace, we have not bought LP gas since our tank was filled in Jan 2009:D
Gregs two pennys worth:confuse:

#11 skyrydr2 ONLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2012 - 12:31 PM

Well, my utilities bill is only $600 yearly, but oil for heat( I like it warm ) is the killer at $1700 plus . The house is pretty new and heats easy, so I think if I supliment the heating with either wood or solar, I should be able to virtually eliminate oil from the equation.
At $1700+ per year possible savings will quickly pay for a furnace and maybe solar panels too. So more homework to do...

#12 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2012 - 12:48 PM

If it makes you fell any better , my yearly cell phone bill is more the $1,700 :wallbanging: Al

#13 Lauber1 ONLINE  

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Posted January 06, 2012 - 01:33 PM

This subject can open a whole bag of worms. Some of the these ways to reduce the footprint are worse than the footprint itself. check into the kinds of pollution just making a photo electric panel produces. My take on most of this is, it costs too much for the short life span and maintance required. I look into a windmill system, but couldnt see how my spending 20K for a sizeable system, and the fact it would only make part of my power would really help anyone but the makers of the equipment. The deal breaker with most of these differnt type units seems to be the high cost vs the long payback times.

We decide a few yrs back to burn corn as a main heating source. We grow it right out side the door anyway. We got a $2500 furance, a wagon, a seed cleaner and some other small thing, and spent someplace in the area of $3500 getting it all setup. It does heat well, and is half the cost of the LP we used to use. The maintance is fairly big, as you have to clean it out weekly, the fan motors go bad yearly, and you have to fill the system with corn each day. Been running five yrs now, ive burned 800 gl of LP,( mostly though the water heater in that time), and about 1500bu of corn. In the last 5 yrs we've gone though about $500-600 in parts for the unit, this yr i had top weld up the heat exchanger that rusted though due to the acid produced from burning corn. We had to replace the entire flue system for the same reason at the start of this yrs burn, that only cost $300 more. Back when we started the corn was only 2.33, now its 6.94. We are ahead but not as much as it was sold to us at the beginning.

We did look into doing a ground source heat system, but again at 11 to 25K it didnt make any sence to spend that much money. I also looked at a tankless water heater, but most who have them said the heater exchangers burn out in about 5 or so yrs, so at the current price being five time a normal heater, it just dont pay out in the long run. Our electric bill only runs around $2500 a yr, to heat/cool my 2100 sq ft and run my shop equipment.

I dont think there is a perfect system out there that would work. Ones that seem to be better for the land, have huge payback times, use tons of stuff increasing the footprint, and would be needing replacement about the time they'er paid for. I beleive if the gov' wants people to go this way their going to have to show us where the savings really are at in the long term, not just some charts from the builders stating how much your going to save. .

#14 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 07:32 AM

Well, my utilities bill is only $600 yearly, but oil for heat( I like it warm ) is the killer at $1700 plus . The house is pretty new and heats easy, so I think if I supliment the heating with either wood or solar, I should be able to virtually eliminate oil from the equation.
At $1700+ per year possible savings will quickly pay for a furnace and maybe solar panels too. So more homework to do...


Trying to get a substantial amount of heat from solar HW panels is a daunting and expensive prospect. As I mentioned above, the resource you are trying to harvest becomes scarce in the winter when you need the heat. You need a lot of panels which are expensive, take up a lot of space and will produce heat only when there is sun. You need to have a large heat exchanger and holding tank to store the heat and the best way to get that heat into the house is with a radiant in floor heating system. Unless you already have this in place then it becomes very expensive. You also have to deal with overheating of the panels in the summer months .
Your heating bills seem lower than average to me, although I am not familiar with your energy costs. For ease of retrofitting it's hard to beat the latest generation of split type air to air heat pump/AC units. I have 2 of them in my house and since I have family in the business I know that the performance of these units is much better than it was in even the recent past. You should look into these to supply heat in the shoulder seasons. For the coldest part of the winter I think a high efficiency wood fireplace insert of stove is still the best value.
I may seem negative about all the alt energy tech but I am merely trying to get the point across that the science involved in this stuff cannot be ignored and that potential buyers should realize that fact and keep their expectations in check. There are a lot of shady installers out there who will promise un attainable returns on investment which cannot be met in the real world. If your motivation for getting this is to save money then educate yourself on the science involved and seek out a installer with a proven track record. If you are willing to also consider this as an investment in the future of the environment then being armed with the facts will help you evaluate how much you are willing to invest regardless of ROI.
  • Lauber1 said thank you

#15 skyrydr2 ONLINE  

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Posted January 07, 2012 - 08:18 AM

I hate drafts, so anything that blows hot air is really out, I have hydraunic heat now, and am going to install radiant floor heat very soon (tile floors really benifite from this) . I grew up burning wood for heat and really like feel, but hate the mess, so no wood in the house ! If wood is burned it will be out side any living areas .
I have been reading, and listening to the speels the solar guys are pitching and none have sold me yet! Wind power is crazy exspensive.
So more homework, but I will say solar prices are dropping...




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