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Alternate energy for your home

Updated on February 19, 2015
Solar panels attached to a roof.
Solar panels attached to a roof. | Source
Renewable energy for home and car
Renewable energy for home and car | Source

Five types of renewable energy used in homes

The three most popular types of alternate energy currently being used in the home. The near future will bring considerable changes in renewable energy sources.

Presently these are the main types of alternate energy people are using in their homes.

  1. Solar
  2. Wind
  3. Hydro
  4. Biomass
  5. Human Energy

There are many renewable energy sources on the horizon. Some for home use and others for commercial utility companies.We will touch on five of the most common in this article. They can be used by themselves are combined together to generate power.

Alternate energy and our environment

PVC Solar Electric

Photovoltaic solar cell
Photovoltaic solar cell | Source

Solar power for the home

At present all solar systems use a type of Photovoltaic (PV) cells

Photovoltaic or PV systems. This type of system converts sun light into Direct Current (DC) electricity using solar cells. A solar cell is a device that converts light into DC electric using the photovoltaic effect. Then a converter is used to convert the electricity into alternating current (AC) to operate conventional appliances and home electric systems. Home solar power systems can be purchased that allow the home to be off the utility power grid. Currently there are laws in effect that force utility companies to purchase extra electricity from the home owner.

The cost of such power systems are dropping as more are being sold and used. At present there are income tax breaks given to people who purchase such a system. In 2015 the tax consideration is a 30% deduction. This will change at the end of this year and are supposed to go down to a 10% deduction in 2016.

PV solar cells are also used in many personal electronic devices. Such as calculators, wrist watches, electronic tape measures and hand tools, and many others. They also offer a solar USB charger for cells phone and hand held computers. They are inventing new uses everyday.

Quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination.
Quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination. | Source

Solar Cell Research 2015 Los Alamos National Laboratory

Quantum dot solar cell research

The solar industry is about to take a giant leap forward in efficiency, price and appearance. At the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico scientists have found a way to use Quantum dots to create solar cells that can be used in house windows. April 14, 2014, Los Alamos laboratory published a press release informing the world that they have accomplished a new type of microscopic solar cell that is more effective than the current panel arrays being used today. January 15, 2015, Los Alamos lab published another article revealing that they have found a way to increase the efficiency of the quantum dot solar cell. They now will produce double the electricity of quantum dot solar cells. They are predicting that this new method of creating solar panels will change the entire landscape of the solar industry. They are working to produce clear solar windows that will produce more electricity than the current solar panel arrays and also double as thermal house windows. Within the next year or two it will become possible to produce electricity from the windows in our homes.

With the recent improvements in solar cell research, it appears the utility companies themselves may go the way of the dinosaurs. Why purchase power from a power grid when you can easily generate more than you need at no expense from your house windows. The world is about to change drastically in more ways than renewable energy, but this is our topic in this article.

Wind turbines
Wind turbines | Source

Wind power

Wind power has been in use for centuries. The modern wind turbines are much more effective than the traditional relics from the past on farms and grain mills. But wind power is also about to make a huge transformation. They have invented a type of wind turbine balloon that is highly effective for collecting energy. The newest models fly and self adjust to find the optimum spots to collect wind.

Wind energy can be employed on a residence very easily using a small turbine placed outside the house or even on the roof. But to create enough energy to power the entire home one has to live in the correct location. Using the newest types of wind balloons will make it easier for homes to collect enough power, but still unrealistic for most home owners.

Water Wheel
Water Wheel | Source

Water power

Water wheels have been used throughout history because they are very effective for creating energy that can be used for many purposes. Traditionally hydro power has only collected enough energy to either operate a mill or as a partial power source for a home. The down side is that the house needs to be near running water. Utility companies use hydro power to run huge generators to power cities. Like Hoover Dam in Nevada, but this is not applicable for a home owner. Hydro power too is about to undergo extreme changes. By using the ocean to power their water turbines enough energy will be collected to power a city or even a country with many ocean turbines. Utilities companies have been working on these for the past few years.

If the house is next to a running creek one can easily hook up a water wheel to power a generator. This works well combined with other small devices that generate electricity.


Biomass energy

There are electric generators on the market that convert biomass into electric and alternative fuel. These use wood chips, grass clippings and other biological waste and convert it into electric. They are called gasifiers and there are many types and sizes for sale at this time. There are kits available to build your own gasifier or you can simply buy one. This is another alternate power source for the home or farm. This type of energy source is an advancement on using methane for converting power.

Hand crank radio
Hand crank radio | Source

Human energy power

We all know about pedal power and its many uses. Such as bicycles, old time spinning wheels and organs to play music. They also have hand crack devices, such as radios and flashlights.

The near future will bring us wearable electronic devices. Such as wrist band iPhones that will be charged with natural body movements. As the electronic industry continues to advance at the incredible speed it does these devices will become more and more useful. By the end of 2015 these iWatches and iPhone wrist bands will be on the market. It won't be long until these are as common as cell phones are today. Soon self driving cars will hit the scene controlled by AI that use electric or an alternate fuel source. They have already built a few self driving cars and have given public displays. There's many new cars on the market that use alternate power sources and they will become less expensive and more common within the next few years. The use of DC static electricity was experimented with by Telsa. This too could soon become perfected to power our appliances using the static in the air around us. Technology is advancing at rapid speeds and is more advanced already than I thought I would ever see in my lifetime.


Combining power sources

Combining several types of generators together can generate enough power to allow a home to function off the grid. This has been used for years around the world and can be very effective. Several of my friends who live in the wilds of Arizona do just this. They have small solar PV panels, several small wind turbines along with a wood stove and natural methane gas to power their homes. Dug out cisterns underground to collect and channel the rainwater and use it in a closed system to operate a small water wheel, water the garden, and also use it for showers. Because it does not rain often there they keep the water in a closed system and heat it with a combination of solar heat and a wood stove. They also have a truck with a large water tank fastened onto the bed and go to a local campsite to purchase water to drink, cook. There is also a gas powered generator outside the house in case there is a need for more electric than collected. Using every method they can afford and combining them together they have lived off the grid for over twenty years this way. Every part of the system was inexpensive and built by themselves. The farm is virtually self sustaining and powers itself at bare minimum cost.

© 2015 Randy Hirneisen


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