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Alternative Energy Systems

In this day of rising energy prices and concern over environmental issues, there is an increasing demand for alternative and renewable energy sources. Hardly a week goes by that we don't get a question about installing solar or wind power for someone.

When we get that question, we have to start asking other questions of the potential client to resolve some things with them first.

Stop and Think!

The most important thing you need to deal with is how much energy you are wasting. There are so many ways that a home wastes energy. Alternative energy (AE) or renewable energy (RE) is so much more expensive to generate that you can't afford to waste it. Allow me to quote something that sheds light on this issue very well:

The Americans in a typical home consume 750 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month… But grid electricity is cheap and heavily subsidized compared to renewable energy—at least right now, in 2009. Unless you have local, state or federal incentives available and a favorable buy-back rate from your local utility, it could take decades to make your renewable energy investment money back. And a good part of that investment would most likely be going towards making electricity that you immediately waste! If you live on the grid, you should do your homework and put money into conservation before you even start to look at investing in a renewable energy (RE) system.


It’s estimated that for every dollar you spend on energy conservation, you’ll save
$3-5 on the cost of the RE system needed to power the stuff in your home.


Inefficient appliances and lighting, phantom loads and bad habits can waste more energy per month than many RE systems can even contribute per month. For example, buying a brand new, efficient refrigerator will usually cost you much less than the cost of the solar panels, wind turbine and extra battery capacity to run your 20-year-old model. Electric heating elements like those found in space heaters, water heaters and ranges use so much electricity that they are impractical for most RE systems—it would be far cheaper to convert to direct solar space heating, a gas range and a direct solar or gas water heater than to try and power that equipment with solar or wind-generated electricity.


People who live with grid power usually don’t even realize how much electricity they waste every day. You’ll rarely see an off-grid dweller leave two televisions and roomfuls of lights on if nobody is using them…


The comparison of your energy consumed versus what a wind turbine can produce may be very sobering!


Homebrew Wind Power: A hands-on guide to harnessing the wind

Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink
Buckville Publications, LLC
P.O. Box 292
Madisonville, CO 80541
First edition 2009
page 22

Notice that the authors state that $1.00 of waste is equal to $3.00-$5.00 worth of energy produced by the AE or RE system. That's a pretty heavy weight to overcome.

In the light of this, how can we proceed to get ready for an AE system? The first answer is to learn to conserve and the second is to make your home as energy efficient as possible. That is why you need an energy consultant.

To accomplish the goals of cutting energy waste to a minimum, Tradewinds offers all the varied levels of energy consulting to help you devise a cost effective plan. Read our pages about testing and consulting. If you tame the energy wasters in your home, you can then think about installing AE or RE systems.

As energy consultants, its our job to help you see the energy-wasting circumstances that are hidden from your sight and to help you map out your plan of attack.

Now, let's look at what RE or AE systems are

The definition of renewable energy, as stated by the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association,(TREIA), and subsequently adopted by the Texas Legislature is:

Any energy resource that is naturally regenerated over a short time scale and derived directly from the sun (such as thermal, photochemical, and photoelectric), indirectly from the sun (such as wind, hydro power, and photosynthetic energy stored in biomass), or from other natural movements and mechanisms of the environment (such as geothermal and tidal energy). Renewable energy does not include energy resources derived from fossil fuels, waste products from fossil sources, or waste products from inorganic sources.

"Alternative energy", as defined by Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English 2009, "is energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment; also called [renewable energy]."

So the terms are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. In our minds, alternative energy is a broader term and can include some forms of energy that a RE purist would not consider renewable energy. This would include recycled cooking oil and other things that re-use already manufactured fuels.

Common AE systems

  • Solar generated electricity by photovoltaic cells
  • Solar generated heat-either hot air or hot water
  • Wind generated electricity by windmills
  • Hydro-electric systems
  • Hybrid systems using some or all of these in combination

On top of the various systems, you have to consider the application the systems will be used for. Applications can consist of these uses and any combination:

  • Power for homes or buildings in remote locations
  • Power for communication facilities, like radio towers
  • Power for pumping water
  • Power for a utility grid intertie to reduce utility bills
  • Heating for human or animal comfort
  • Water heating

There is now a huge selection of equipment and skills available to help you accomplish your RE project. Tradewinds can help you plan your project in a manner that will prevent you from wasting time and money and perhaps from getting on a track that will not lead to a productive system.

Do you need to lay out the path of the sun?

If you need to plan a solar installation or even lay out a garden or any place where it is vital to know the amount of sunshine you will receive during the year, there is only one tool that is universally sought out to provide the answers. That is the Solar Pathfinder.

Click the image below to go to their site. We recommend this tool.

solar pathfinder

 

Do you need a backup genset or even a stand-alone
generator for off-grid locations?

Tradewinds can help you design alternative energy systems such as fuel powered generators and others.



 We are able to consult with you about your project. Remember, the first step is to tame the energy waste in your life. After that, you can install systems and enjoy the savings and the peace afforded from providing your own power.


The installation shown below is our office power station.

 

 

We have designed power systems for homes and facilities both in suburban and rural settings. From supplemental power to fully off the grid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting pole to length

 

     Power Inverters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welding attachments to pole

 

 

 

 

 

                    Installing panels to tracker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tradewinds Appropriate Technologies, LLC

Energy, Comfort and Indoor Air Quality Solutions

Residential Energy Consulting, Testing,
Custom Load Calculations, HVAC System Design and Performance Testing,
Spray Foam Insulation Design and Consulting, and HVAC Design Training:

Call 254-799-1326


email: info@tradewinds-at.com

© 2015 Tradewinds Appropriate Technologies, LLC