Cheryl Phelan's Blog
Although adding solar energy systems to single-family dwellings can reduce utility bills and improve property values, a large installation's price tag sometimes proves prohibitive. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on state-of-the-art panels, wiring and equipment necessary to convert the sun's rays into lighting can easily exceed one's budget.
However, increasing your renewable energy footprint does not necessarily require elaborate solar energy systems. There are cost-effective opportunities available to set up DIY panels or replace grid-powered items with solar options. These are ways handy homeowners can reduce utility bills and enhance their quality of life.
DIY Solar Panels for Specific Uses
With basic construction skills you can install many types of solar panels. Rather than feel uneasy about penetrating your roof, select strategic elevated spaces and underused areas on the property. For instance, securing the panels to a porch or veranda overhang is safer and easier to accomplish. Another option homeowners sometimes prefer involves ground-level systems that do not affect the house's structure. The basic project outline looks something like this:
- Outline the area you intend to position the panel.
- Identify rafters to bolt into and mark the surface.
- Use a product to secure the system to the ground, such as hurricane straps.
- Connect the micro-inverters to the system's rails.
- Connect and install the electrical grounding wires.
- Attach hardware such as junction boxes.
- Mount and secure the panels in place.
Complete the panel installation by running the conduit, emergency disconnect and other items specific to the system. You can then power up select lighting, electrical equipment and others. By integrating strategic panels into the property, homeowners can power new elements or selectively take existing ones off the grid.
Top DIY Solar Energy Uses for Homeowners
Solar panel and system manufacturers recognize the growing DIY popularity of these products. Everyday people can purchase complete kits with directions that are easy to follow. That being said, once a handy homeowner learns the nuances of these installations, the sky is the limit. The following rank among the more innovative ways property owners are reducing their dependence on the grid:
- Solar Ventilation Fans: It's not uncommon for homeowners to avoid upgrading from passive to fan-blown roof vents. The idea of purchasing new products and enlisting an electrician to run lines typically takes a back burner in the monthly budget. Solar-powered ventilation units can eliminate such costs and increase the longevity of your roof.
- Solar Heated Swimming Pools: Adding an in-ground swimming pool increases the leisure enjoyment of being at home, but these amenities already occupy a line item in monthly budgets that don't include more electrical use. Leveraging a nearby ground-level panel helps reduce the cost of warming the water and also extends seasonal use.
- Solar Device Stations: Charging station products continue to flood the market to keep up with the everyday use of devices. Connecting a solar panel to a strategically located charging station in the home can eliminate everyone recharging from the grid.
- Increase Solar Lighting: Homeowners have widely embraced walkway and motion-sensor outdoor lighting. With these assets already in place, taking the next logical step to light screened-in porches and gazebos, among others, represents a cost-effective way to extend daily use. A one-time cost and a few hours of sweat equity can deliver years of enjoyment.
You might find that after doing the math that sustainable energy is a prudent choice. Adding up the utility bill savings, and increased quality of life delivers a substantial quality of life value.