Simply replacing the typical four 40 watt incandescent lighting in a ceiling fan to 4 compact fluorescent bulbs saves 132 watts. That really adds up over time, particularly over the extended lifespan of a CFL (which often come with a manufacturer warranty).
Some ceiling fans may flicker when a full set of compact fluorescent lights are substituted for incandescent bulbs. To fix this, use compact fluorescent bulbs for all but one socket. Use one incandescent bulb for the remaining light. Despite the use of one incandescent, you’ll still be saving a significant amount of electricity.
If you are unable to completely upgrade your lighting by replacing each bulb in your home, start with the most frequently used areas in your house and save areas like closets, which only use light for short periods of time, for last.
Check out our How to: Cut Your Electric Bill video series below
For wind and solar beginners who are just getting started, don’t spend lots of money on forklift batteries, instead, purchase a 12V automotive battery or deep cycle marine battery. This will be sufficient until you are more familiar with how your wind turbine or solar panels will work and are ready to expand.
Popular Batteries in Alternative Energy:
6V Trojan L16G-AC Battery 390AH: Flooded Battery, Wet Cell – Second most popular battery type.
2V Trojan L16RE Battery 1200AH: Deep Cycle Flooded Battery. New on the market – Renewable Energy Battery.
Put off hydrogen gas, must be vented outside.
6V Trojan T105-AGM: Absorbed Glass Mat – true deep cycle battery.
Gel cell batteries: Very expensive and sensitive to charging. If these batteries are allowed to be overcharged, they will be ruined!
What we recommend: Use a DC Disconnect Switch in line with your batteries and inverter:
For single battery banks, use the DC Disconnect Switch
For systems with multiple battery banks, use our DC Switch for Multiple Battery Banks and Power Sources
Desulfation of Batteries: If your alternative energy employs more than one battery, consider the issue of desulfation. Sulfates build up between lead plates within the unit and will wear the battery down.
To prevent build-up of sulfates, pair your system with a PWM (pulse width modulation) charge controller (typically for solar only applications) to knock the sulfates off the plates, prolonging battery life.
If your system includes a wind turbine, the turbine charge surges in the battery that will knock sulfates off the lead plates.
The batteries listed above are meant to charge & recharge frequently. Follow manufacturer recommendations at what percentage to discharge each battery to keep from shortening battery life. For instance, a single solar panel would take such a long time to charge a large battery bank that you will likely drain the battery below the recommended percentage. More batteries isn’t always better!
Try to get right amount of batteries for your project. Don’t pair a huge 5000 watt inverter on a single 12 Volt battery as it will cause the battery to drain way too quickly. Try a 500 watt or 1000 watt inverter with a small battery.
Battery Placement: Batteries work great at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when temperatures fluctuate up or down, the batteries degrade and are hard to charge. To keep your batteries at an ideal temperature, build an insulated plywood box that is vented outside to keep the batteries operating optimally! Batteries placed directly on a cold concrete floor won’t charge easily at all.
Jeff from Missouri Wind and Solar talks about the difference between mounting locations and styles as well as pros and cons to where you site your wind turbine generator.
The peak of your house or shed isn’t necessarily an ideal location to install a wind turbine as you might experience “dirty” turbulent wind that doesn’t flow smoothly. Any obstruction around your turbine may cause updrafts that will reduce the potential for your wind turbine output. The higher you go, the higher quality wind your wind turbine will receive. In fact, the AWEA recommends at least 30 feet above nearby obstructions for best performance*.
Now, a wind turbine tower 80 to 120 feet high might not be possible for your location or budget and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, you will need to manage your expectations that your wind turbine (by any manufacturer) may not produce its rated output based on where you choose to install it. You may need to increase the number of wind turbines in your system or consider adding solar panels.
If you are making an investment in wind power to reduce your energy cost, your environmental footprint, or off-grid power, be sure to invest in where you site and mount it. A great analogy would be in selecting potting soil for a plant. Your plant and its growth potential relies directly on the nutrient content and drainage quality of the medium it grows in. It’s not worth saving fifty cents and having a sad droopy plant (that will probably need frequent fertilization) when you could have gone with the quality stuff to begin with.
If you’re deciding which wind turbine company to go with, do some research by looking at customer reviews but take it with a grain of salt. Be analytical in the way you look at a YouTube video or product review on wind turbine output.
Ask yourself the following:
Don’t believe everything that gets thrown at you or you’ll suffer information overload. Ask questions on points that need clarification or if something looks suspicious or too good to be true! Just look at the raw facts and decide if the wind turbine power output reflects the quality of the setup.
*AWEA FAQ’s for small wind systems