Compare Solar vs Wind Energy for Your Home
If you’re interested in finding out how you can switch to renewable energy sources for your home, you’re not alone. More and more homeowners are making the choice to switch from fossil fuels to sources of renewable energy to provide electricity to their homes. Not only is this beneficial to the environment on a local and global scale, but it often offers you significant savings financially.
So, what do you need to know if you’re considering solar power or wind power?
What are alternative ways to power your home?
Several clean, renewable energy sources are favorable to fossil fuels. The two most popular green energy alternatives are solar power, which uses photovoltaic panels to take energy from sunlight, and wind power, which uses wind turbines to harness energy from wind.
What is the difference between solar energy and wind energy?
Both solar energy and wind energy are intermittent, and both have certain locations where they will work better than others. Solar power can work – at least in part – all day every day, unless you live somewhere with severely reduced light during the darkest parts of the year.
One of the biggest differences between solar energy and wind energy is that wind production units need to have parts that move, whereas solar panels are always stationary.
What are the pros and cons of solar energy?
As with any energy source, there are numerous pros and cons for solar energy. Here are the main points you should consider:
Solar Energy Pros:
- sunlight occurs wherever you are year-round (unless you live in an extreme environment)
- solar panels have no moving components
- solar panels are reliable, with a warranty of 25 years
- solar panels do not need a lot of maintenance
- solar panels make absolutely no noise
- solar panels can be installed quickly with minimal cables
- you can sell any excess energy created by your solar panels to utility companies
- solar energy technologies are constantly being improved upon
Solar Energy Cons:
- will not be efficient if you live somewhere with relatively constant cloud cover
- the efficiency of solar panels is affected by the direction in which your panels are installed
- initial installation costs can be high
- the energy which you are not using right away needs to be stored in batteries which can be expensive
- solar panels can require a lot of space, depending on how many you need to power your home
- solar farms (and panels) aren’t particularly pretty to look at – though are usually close to the ground
What are the pros and cons of wind energy?
The pros and cons of wind energy you need to consider are:
Wind Energy Pros:
- wind turbines can transform over half of the wind that passes through them into usable energy
- wind turbines can generate power around the clock
- wind turbines will work whatever direction they are facing
Wind Energy Cons:
- wind is intermittent – it won’t always be moving fast enough to turn a turbine, or may be too fast to use the turbine without causing it damage, that is why you need renewable energy from multiple sources
- the electrical generators inside a turbine are only made to handle a capped quantity of energy, but that is not an issue when on an unlimited renewable energy plan
- if you build your own turbine vs taking advantage of a clean energy plan, consider that wind turbines need to have regular, fairly expensive, maintenance because of the moving parts – and can only be done by a specialized individual
- wind turbines can take up a lot of space, away from any tall buildings or trees – since they need to be so tall to harness wind energy they are seen as a form of visual pollution to some
- wind turbines can have a negative effect of bird populations when installed near a home – they may fly into them, and there is no way to stop it
Does wind or solar produce more energy?
So, we’ve looked at the pros and cons of both solar energy and wind energy, but which actually produces the most energy for your home?
The efficiency of solar panels is dependent on how well they can convert sunlight into usable electricity. The most efficient solar panels you can buy will be able to convert about 22% of energy harnessed from sunlight into actual electrical energy, which doesn’t sound like a lot.
Wind turbines, however, can convert up to 60% of the energy they harness from the wind into usable electrical energy. To give this some perspective, a single wind turbine generates the same amount of electricity as hundreds, or even thousands, of solar panels, although the size of the wind turbine will have some bearing on this.
The answer as to which will produce more energy will depend on where in the world you are. If you’re in a sheltered but sunny spot in California, solar panels will produce far more energy than a single wind turbine, if it is unable to generate energy due to lack of wind most days. The best option is to consider switching to a renewable energy plan that powers your life with clean energy sources like wind and solar.
If we’re talking about the US, wind power produced 300 billion kilowatt-hours, while solar power produced 69 billion, so there’s a clear winner.
How many solar panels are needed to power a house?
The average household of four will need somewhere around 16 solar panels to supply all the energy a home needs. In other words, 4 solar panels per person within a household. However, this will vary depending on your daily usage of electricity, the average amount of sunshine you have daily, and the individual output of your solar panels.
Can a wind turbine power a house?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is, it depends on the size of your home, how much energy you need, and the annual average wind speed in your area.
Your household could easily be powered by wind power and solar energy with an Inspire energy plan. Clean energy can be supplied directly to any size household regardless of whether you actually live in a windy area or not.
How many solar panels does it take to equal a wind turbine?
A wind turbine of about 5kW will produce the equivalent amount of energy per day as around 24 solar panels, enough energy for a household of 6 people. This number of solar panels will need a huge amount of space and will need to be facing directly towards the sun to create this amount of power.
Is solar energy or wind energy more expensive?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at how much the installation costs for a home.
How much do solar panels cost?
On average, solar panel costs will range anywhere from $11,000 to $15,000 with a federal solar tax credit of 26% off the full price. Installation costs vary depending on the type of solar panels, the number of panels you need, whether you want a rooftop array or ground array, where you live, and who you choose to install your panels. This amounts to an average cost of around $3.18 per watt.
Some states, local governments, or utility companies may offer rebates or other incentives that will reduce your solar panel installation costs, and any local company should know about these.
How much does a wind turbine cost?
You could get wind power supplied directly to your home through Inspire with no installation costs. Switching to an unlimited renewable energy plan is quick and easy, and does not come with the large costs involved with actually building your own wind turbine.
As previously mentioned, the average homeowner will require a wind turbine of at least 5kW, but it is likely to be no more than 15kW. With this in mind, the average wind turbine installation cost will be anywhere between $15,000 to $75,000, and will depend on the size of the turbine, how tall it is, and the equipment you will need, making switching a lot simpler and more cost effective. The average home wind turbine will produce about 8,000kWh to 12,000kWh over a year, which amounts to an average cost of about $2 per kWh.
Is residential wind power cost-effective?
The easiest way to switch to clean and renewable energy for your home or business quickly is through an unlimited energy subscription that never fluctuates.
Can you combine solar and wind power?
The best option is to combine solar power with wind power and power your home through multiple renewable energy sources through an unlimited renewable energy subscription by Inspire. This means that you can power your home with clean energy no matter what the weather or time of day is.
Can I use wind and solar power for my home?
Yes – and you don’t have to invest in thousands of dollars of equipment, either. Here at Inspire, it’s our mission to ensure every household in the US can choose to pay for clean energy with no upfront investment. We put our customers in the driver’s seat, and give them all the tools they need to make clean energy affordable.
It is easy to see that both solar energy and wind energy are key players in using sustainable, clean methods to power our homes, and it is important to make the switch to renewable energy from fossil fuels if we can. Renewable energy sources help to reduce our energy costs and contribute to reversing negative environmental effects on our planet.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can make the switch to clean energy and save money with our monthly subscription, see how it works.