Monday, February 08, 2010

Renewable Energy Sources and a Spring Project or two...

Reading an article today on Fast Company has me thinking about renewable energy sources and how I might be able to use them to my advantage.

I did some research after I bought my house (2006) and found that it was just a bit too expensive to jump into the solar market for replacing "the grid" with a renewable source of energy.  There is also the fact that such energy is unpredictable.  These factors stopped me from trying to drum up an investment of $20 - $30,000 to move forward with this project.

I did however, go ahead and invest in solar lighting for the front yard.  This had good results through the summer time frame and mixed results through the winter when there is much less sunshine on the property.

In 2008 I researched the cost to run power out to my garage so that I could use the garage door opener and some other items requiring a pretty small amount of power.  The suggested way to do this was to put a new breaker box in with 100 Amp service to the garage.  I received a quote for $1800 and decided that was out of my budget range for completing at that time.

Since then, I've thought of other ideas, such as running a line of the existing breaker box, however it's a good 150 ft away from where I would have to run the line.  That's quite a bit of digging and likely a bunch of permit work.

I'm now starting to think of other ways that I might be able to accomplish this and some other things around the house using renewable energy sources, such as solar power.

I think the next step for me is to invest a little bit of money in some more training before dropping the cash on the hardware.  The reason is two fold.  First, I really want to understand what I need to buy and second is that I want to know how to install once the hardware arrives without killing myself while trying to do it.

Once completing the training I think I'll look at some off-grid starter kits or pole mounted kits from Mr. Solar and choose one to fit my power needs.  The grid-tie systems really interest me as well, but the cost is much greater as it needs to tie into your existing power and will use the power that is generated from the sun through the day and then just use the power it needs from your power company at night.  If you have enough sun, there may be days when you don't even require additional power from your provider... man that would be a great thing!

Project #1

Order and install outdoor solar lighting to replace wired lighting on my shed.


Completion Date
March 1, 2010

Project #2

Come up with a way to use my garage door opener without having to run power to the detached garage.


Completion Date
June 1st, 2010

Project #3

Come up with a way to power my house on a small scale during electric outages, which I have quite a few of during the year on Sugarloaf Lake.


Completion Date
September 1st, 2010

I'll go into each of these projects in detail in separate posts.

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