ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Getting Off the Grid - Free Yourself from Your Electric Company with Solar Power with Update

Updated on July 26, 2012

It is abundantly clear that We, as a People, can only be truly free to the extent that we are able to free ourselves from reliance on government services. As a Country, we can only be as free as our national Energy Policy and consumption permits. So long as We, the People, have to rely on the Government for the power that runs our homes and businesses, we are forever tethered to the Energy Policies that ultimately force us to turn to other countries to "feed the beast".

Imagine, if you will, a country that does not need to get its energy sources from other countries. While I think such a goal is achievable in my lifetime, I know that it can be done by individuals. As each of us is able to free ourselves of the need to purchase energy from the electric and gas companies, we are less of a drag on the effort of the Government to free our Country from dependence on foreign sources of power.

There are a number of sources of energy production that the average homeowner or small business can invest in that will over time reduce that dependence: biofuels (think cow poop); solar power; wind power; hydro-electric (water) power; mechanical energy production. Some are well-established and readily available (for a price) and some are just beginning to be considered feasible for the average person or small business.

Solar Power

Most people are familiar with the concept of solar power. You might even know someone who has solar power either in their house; works in a building powered to some extent by solar power; uses solar powered lights at home or solar powered chargers for cell phone or computer recharging. The technology is all around us.

Cell Phone and Computer Equipment Solar Recharger

Good deal on a solar recharger with different connectors.
Good deal on a solar recharger with different connectors. | Source

Roofing Technologies

Obviously the logical place for solar technology is on the roof of the house or building. The price of solar powered roofs has come down considerably over time and now there are products that can incorporate solar without it looking industrial and still give it to you at a competitive price.

Barrel Tile and Solar

Incorporating solar technology into barrel tile roofs.
Incorporating solar technology into barrel tile roofs. | Source

By using a flexible, thin film, and placing it in the valleys of barrel tiles roofs, the solar portion of the roof becomes virtually invisible to the eye unless you are looking at the roof section dead on.

A less aesthetically pleasing, but a great improvement on the old roof mounted solar panels, is the new "solar shingle" product, which allows the solar panels to be flush with the surrounding roof shingles and thus much less obtrusive. My Alma Mater, Georgia Tech has a company partnership called Suniva, and they are working on a solar panel that can be produced at a cost that will make it competitive with traditional fossil fuel technologies and be efficient, harnessing at least 20% of the energy that is captured by their panels. So far, Suniva has not yet conquered the "looking pretty" variable of the solar equation. Dow also produces panels that are in wide use in California and can be incorporated into a regular shingle style roof.

What to do with all that sunlight?

One of the obstacles to solar is how to make it work once the sun goes down or on rainy days when there is insufficient light to fully energize the solar panels? Clearly, batteries need to be used to store the excess energy for later use if solar is to be a viable energy alternative for the average homeowner or small business. But the batteries are expensive and can be cumbersome.

Enter MIT geeks who are working on a solution for the battery problem. Batteries have thus far been expensive and cumbersome but MIT researchers think that they are on the trail of a solution using batteries made of molten metals that can be scaled for home use and can be cost-effective for the average homeowner.

Ultimately the goal would be to have a battery system smaller than a refrigerator in your garage or basement or utility room that would store the excess energy captured during the day so that it could be used once the sun went down or on cloudy/rainy days.

Solar Power can be a Two-fer

Some clever person, in tinkering around with solar power applications, thought to run water through thick glass tubes which act sort of like those "duet shades" that many of us have in our windows in place of traditional Venetian blinds. By running water through the thick glass tubes, you prevent the complete transfer of heat from the outside sunlight into the building yet still allowing the light. Very clever. In the summer months, it helps the building stay cooler, and in winter months adds a little warmth to the interior of the building.

However, taking it one step further, these clever thinkers decided to use "grey water" from the building to run through the tubes. Grey water is that water that comes from hand washing, showering, dish washing, clothes washing - everything except water from the toilet - which would otherwise be flushed down the drain into the sewer system and set off to water treatment plants.

By running this grey water through the glass tubes, and adding some filtration barriers, they can turn this solar power application into a passive solar process for disinfecting grey water, allowing that water to be recycled back into drinking water without the necessity of burdening the local water treatment plant. It would seem that this technology could also incorporate run-off from the roof funneled into the gutter system and then filtered and disinfected through this application for those buildings that are not collecting roof run-off in order to irrigate landscaping or crops.

Solar used to disinfect grey water

Image via Cyborg Landscapes
Image via Cyborg Landscapes | Source

Solar Power is a Technology for Everyone

Advances in the solar technology field have put solar power within reach of more and more Americans while lowering the cost to incorporate it into our lives. When we remodel our homes, replace our roofs, or build new homes we should be educating ourselves on what is available and what is feasible for our application. Tax incentives from both local governments and the Federal government will help make this investment less costly. As we, as individuals, embrace renewable energy sources such as Solar Power, we are helping our Country free itself from the shackles of fossil fuels.

Let me know if you have used any of these technologies and what your personal experience has been pro or con! I'd like to hear from people who have actually done it since I am close to starting the design process for a house that I will be building to incorporate "off the grid" technologies and solutions.

BONUS - Federal Tax Credit for installing Solar Roofing

I had left out one of the most seductive of reasons to install solar roofing: Federal Tax Credit for the installation of solar roofing.

You have to fill out the forms, but with the price of solar coming down to be competitive with traditional roofs, a 30% tax credit can go a long way to be an incentive to consider this option.


Within just the past few days, two researchers at UCLA announced that they had invented a solar product that was so thin as to be virtually transparent, and which they envision could sometime in the near future be applied as a film to the windows of your house and produce solar power for use in your home or in office buildings.,0,708268.story

Virtually Transparent Solar Film



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)