Here’s a good battle that needs to be fought. Let’s allow the two most common forms of alternative energy to face off, hand to hand, technology to technology, and see which one is better for you. These are the types of solar panels available to anyone, and small consumer wind turbines, not the big wind farm types. So folks, put on your gloves and let’s get ready to rumble.
Placement – Solar panels will fit on any roof, but it has to be south facing. There are no local laws or ordinances that will not allow solar to be put up. Wind turbines generally need to be mounted high off the ground for optimal efficiency. Many local laws prohibit towers or structures in cities or suburban neighborhoods. Solar wins hands down and is perfect for city dwellings.
Performance – Solar panels need sunlight to work efficiently, although the newer panels produce useable electricity on cloudy days as well. Windmills need wind, so in theory, they could produce electricity 24/7, BUT that just doesn’t happen. The reality is, both technologies are dependent on mother nature, so we have to call this one a draw, although in naturally sunnier climes, solar has an advantage.
Efficiency – When the sun shines, your solar panels are producing 100% of their rated power output. Wind power needs a minimum of 5 mile per hour wind just to get the blades spinning, and anywhere from 10 to 20 miles per hour wind for optimal electricity production. It is calculated that over the course of one 24 hour period, a consumer wind turbine will produce only 10% of it’s rated power. Winner to solar panels.
Cost – Right now, 600 watts of solar panel power will run about $6000 dollars. That comes complete with an inverter, hardware and everything. A 600 watt wind turbine will run about $1000 dollars, and that’s just the turbine and nothing else. You’ll need to add a tower-which can cost thousands-and an inverter etc etc. Remember, your 600 watt rated windmill will only, on an average, be putting out 60 watts per day. When the sun shines, your solar panels are putting out 600 watts, period. You would need 6 wind turbines to equal the performance of one 600 watt solar panel, on a daily basis, plus tower costs and all the other costs. Winner, once again, solar panels.
Overall – Solar wins, and it’s not even close. Couple that with your 30% tax credit and other state incentives, and solar wins going away, no doubt, stick a fork in it, game over! Leave the windmills for the wind farms, but for consumers, there’s only one way to go, and that’s solar all the way!
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