Solar power is an awesome source of renewable energy. With the right panels and other equipment, a home can produce more solar power than it needs and send the excess back to the grid. A home with its own solar panels can operate independently of the grid, but will it be able to meet all of its heating and cooling, lighting, appliances and other space-heating needs? We’ll see in this article that the answer depends on how you set up your house and what appliances you use or solar power magazine. But if you go about it in exactly the right way, you can do it.
Heating and Cooling
If you want to go off the grid, you can’t use an air conditioner or furnace. Instead, you’ll need to rely on a heat pump, which is actually an air conditioner that works in reverse to heat your home in the winter. The biggest obstacle to this plan is that conventional heat pumps are designed to run on grid power, not on solar. But there are companies that have designed solar-powered heat pumps.
A company called Go Green Solar sells a solar-powered heat pump designed to run on solar panels. A solar-powered heat pump is more expensive than a conventional one but would more than pay for itself in lower electricity bills. A hybrid solar-grid-powered setup would also be an option, which would reduce the upfront cost.
A solar-powered home would need to rely on LEDs for lighting. A house that uses grid power for lighting would use about 15 kWh per day, so a solar-powered home would need to produce at least that much solar power. A house with steel or concrete framing is not a great candidate for solar power, since concrete and steel are poor conductors of solar energy. A house with wooden framing might be able to generate enough solar power for lighting, but it would have to be very well insulated.
Appliances that use a lot of power are not well suited to solar power. Some appliances run on direct current (DC), while others run on alternating current (AC). Solar panels produce DC power. To run appliances that run on AC power, you’ll need an inverter. An inverter is an expensive piece of equipment, but it would pay for itself in lower electricity bills. And some appliances, like a refrigerator, a freezer, a humidifier, a stove, and a microwave, are not suitable for solar power because they require a lot of power.
A house that runs entirely on solar power can meet its heating and cooling needs by using a heat pump that runs in reverse as a source of cooling in the summer and as a source of heating in the winter. It can meet its lighting needs by relying on LEDs, and it can meet its appliance needs by using expensive inverters. Still, it’s possible to design a house that runs on solar energy alone. However, there would be many challenges involved in doing so.