Solar Power Versus Generator – The Choice

Solar Power Versus Generator – The Choice

As I write this in early 2007, the controversy over global warming has heated up (pun intended), and people are taking another look at solar power versus generator. For those living outside the power grid, the second look may save not only the green in the rain forest, but also the green in the bank.

Many who live “off the grid” in isolated locations have traditionally relied on generators for electrical power. Others have installed generators for back-up, emergency electrical power. Neither thought there was a choice, but now there is a choice: solar power versus generator.

In this article, we look at the choice. Which is more economical; more convenient; more environmentally friendly? Should you make the change?

Solar Power versus Generator – Cost

The cost of solar power versus generator is much less over the long term.

The initial cost of a solar power system will be greater than that of a generator system. This is often the reason people install a generator rather than choose solar power. One must look beyond the initial cost, however, to get the full comparison of solar power versus generator.

* Solar power, once installed, has little maintenance or further expense. There is no fuel to purchase, since the sun’s energy fuels the system.

* Generators are not so. After installation, a generator will require regular servicing by a professional every 6 months. Generators require fuel – a cost that is constantly increasing. Moving generator parts must be replaced from time to time due to wear and tear.

Solar Power versus Generator – Convenience

Convenience is another factor to consider when looking at solar power versus generator power. Solar power is much more convenient than generator power.

* Solar power may be less convenient to purchase and install, since it is not as widely available as generators. This is due to the currently small market for solar power. As the market increases, however, this will be less of a problem. Solar power systems have no moving parts to wear out or need lubrication. Once installed, solar power requires little attention. The user can almost forget it.

* Generators are widely available, so convenient to purchase and install. Convenience decreases after installation, though. A generator must be monitored frequently to be sure sufficient fuel is available. It must be refilled often when used as a regular source of power. Fuel must be ordered and delivery taken – or fuel must be hauled by the owner. The system must be serviced twice a year. This servicing will include filter changes, an oil change, a tune up, and complete inspection of the entire unit. Worn parts must be replaced.

Solar Power versus Generator – Efficiency

The solar power versus generator battle includes the matter of efficiency, too. Which is more cost-effective? The facts seem to point to solar power.

* Solar power is received in through the panels, free of cost, and stored in batteries. It is ready for use when needed, but in times of reduced usage, the power remains in storage.

* Generators run constantly, regardless of the amount of power being used at a given time. As they run, they consume costly fuel. When power usage is reduced in bright daylight, generators must continue to run.

Solar Power versus Generator – Dependability

Some argue that, in comparing solar power versus generator, we must compare the dependability factor. In this area, they claim, generators win.

* Solar power is very dependable in locations that have bright sunlight 300+ days of the year. In areas with less sunlight, or during periods of cloudiness and storm, solar power is less dependable. The system will continue to provide power from charged batteries, but will eventually go dead. Having said that, it must be noted that Germany, which has far fewer sunny days than most of North America, is said to have much higher usage of solar power. The problem of dependability seems not that big.

* Generator systems do not depend on sunlight. They do, however, depend on fuel. If storms or some other disaster hinders one from replenishing the fuel supply, generators also become useless.

Solar Power versus Generator – Eco-friendliness

Finally, eco-friendliness must be considered in any discussion of solar power versus generator. That is, which is kinder to the environment: solar power or generator? The obvious answer again is solar power.

* Solar power has no emissions when working. There is no pollution involved in fuel production – no greenhouse gases. It is totally clean. Solar power uses a renewable energy source.

* A big drawback to generator use is still the matter of emissions and the environment. Generators are usually run on diesel fuel, and diesel fuel is produced from a fossil fuel. There are emissions in the production of the fuel, and also in its use. Diesel generators are a major source of air pollution and high sulfur levels in North America. Exposure to diesel generator exhaust can lead to health hazards.

Solar Power versus Generator – the Solution

For most people, the resolution of the solar power versus generator debate is to install a hybrid system. Using solar power as the main energy source will save money. The fuel is free. Solar power is convenient, efficient, and eco-friendly. What it lacks in dependability can be made up by having a small back-up generator for prolonged cloudy periods.

My Choice

When I compare solar power versus generator, I definitely have to choose solar power. It is clean, free, quiet, and peaceful.

All You Wanted To Know About Generators

All You Wanted To Know About Generators

A generator is a reliable power source that generates the specified power to be used for home or outdoor use. There are different types of generators that are available for various application needs. The various kinds of these that are commonly used are portable generators, electric generators, wind generators, RV generators, and emergency generators. Lets understand more about them.

Portable generator:

The portable generator is one of the best models used for home backup or outdoor activities. It has many uses and is capable to deliver required power source for home standby or construction purposes along with outdoor camping or recreations. A portable generator proves to be a wonderful choice as a convenient power source and is handy even outdoors.

Wind generator:

As the name suggests a wind generator is the power source, which converts the wind energy into electricity. This generator is winning the faith of the people as a reliable mode of producing energy for homes and other applications. To charge batteries and to provide a reliable stand-alone power source where grid power is not available, small wind generators or turbines are useful.

The wind generator comes in various outputs and sizes and are Designed for all wind speeds, Compact, Efficient, Robust, Light, Maintenance Free, Quiet, Safe, Efficient Brushless alternators, Easy Installation.

The RV generators

RV generators are the one particularly designed for the motor homes or the recreational homes, which is meant for fun and frolic to your outdoor trips to the countryside. These generators come in gas and diesel variants. You can choose from the various models and power options available in these generators. If you want to choose the best then go for the one which starts immediately, makes low noise and is easy to maintain.

RV generators are the most reliable generators set for it has low starting time and is easy to maintain. So much that if properly maintained they can outlast the RV. The most important feature of the RV generator is that they don’t require constant attention. Like in any other generator the power source in RV generator requires regular exercise. This has been found that gasoline generators can have fuel related problems if not used even for a month, it is essential for exercising the generator on a monthly basis.

Emergency Generator:

Life is so used to electronic gadgets or electrical appliances that life becomes next to impossible. When suddenly the power goes off for some reason your life may get hampered because of that. In such situation the emergency generator can be of best help. Power loss affects both home and business your most of the work is stranded and sometimes delayed.

An emergency generator enables you to have power restored back to your appliances which helps you in many ways hence there are various models of the emergency generators to choose from. The emergency generators are generally powered by propane, natural gas, gasoline or diesel.

You can make the choice of the generator as per your requirement. Before choosing a generator it is essential to go over the list of appliances and equipment you want to run from the generator. This will help you to total the watt required and will help to determine the size of generator you would require. In case if you are opting for the portable generator, never place the generator inside the house.

Backup Power Home Energy Generator and Sustainable

Backup Power Home Energy Generator and Sustainable

Generator lifted into equipment dock.
Source: Flickr

How Well Do You Know Your Generator?

Back up power is important not only in business establishments but also in homes. This is especially so if people are experiencing man-made or natural calamities and have no way of preventing power shortage.

During these unfortunate times, people need a source of energy to power up appliances or furniture that is important in running their household. Examples of these are heaters to warm the home in winter times, air conditioning for summer times and of course, oven and other cooking appliances for food support.

Generators are important because people have no way of determining how long the power will be down. If you want to make sure that your home will remain in a good and stable condition, you should have back up energy in order and ready to use at any time.

What are the two types of back up generators?

1. Portable generators.

This is the most economical generator that is capable of supplying back up energy. Portable generators are the most commonly used in homes or household. Appliances that needed power supply are plugged directly into this generator. This is done using wires and other cords that are applicable to the appliances.

Many of these type of generator already has advance features like the stop or start button which people can use to be able to save up on the energy they might be needing for some time.

Portable generators also have different types depending on the volt specification that you are using in your home. You will be able to choose from 120 up to 240 volts capability.

One of the widely used portable generators is the one that is gasoline-powered. People choose this type of generator because it costs less compared to the other type. There are even those that run on diesel or a combination of both.

One of the downside to this is that it cannot be used for longer time. People need to refill and refuel this generator often to be able to extend its power support. In addition, diesel powered generators are much more expensive. Although it is more efficient and with supplies that are easy to find, you may find it hard to start in cold seasons.

2. Permanent generators.

Permanent generators are programmed to be turned on automatically within the specified time after power loss. These generators are connected to the wiring system inside the house. This is why it will start on its own whether there is nobody present in the house during black out. It also has the capacity to shut down on its own once power is restored.

This type of generator is powered by natural gases. The kind of gas that you are using to power some of the appliances at your home can also be used to power this generator.

The choice of permanent generator will depend upon how the homeowners plan to use it. If you need to power up more than the required appliances, then you can opt for permanent generators that have more than 17,000 watts capability.

These types tend to be more expensive than portable generators. But with all its capacity, the initial money spent will be worth it once you see the kind of back up energy it will provide when you need it the most.

Are generators hazardous?

Portable generators are more hazardous than permanent generators. This is because they are making use of gasoline and diesel and is more capable of burning up when overheated.

This kind of generator is like your car. They tend to overheat when used extremely for a long period of time. This is why you need to check regularly and rest it for a while to prevent any damage to you, to the generator and the appliances that it is powering.

Poisoning is also another hazard caused by portable generators. Since it is running on gas, carbon monoxide is being released into the air. According to studies, many people die of carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the reasons for this is that they are not aware that they are inhaling carbon monoxide.

To prevent this from happening, the generator should be placed in locations where it is properly ventilated. Consider placing them outside your home where there are no chances of people to be suffocated from the carbon monoxide it gives off.

Consider these things when you are in the process of buying a back up power for your home. Together with the necessary power supply is the need to make sure that you will encounter no health problems when you are using them already.

Will China’s New Five-Year Plan Force U.S. Utilities to Ration Your Electricity?

Will China’s New Five-Year Plan Force U.S. Utilities to Ration Your Electricity?

According to China’s Ministry of Land Resources, China plans to build up “sufficient reserves” of uranium and other minerals, in a new five-year government plan. The ministry said it would be stockpiling strategic reserves of uranium, copper, aluminum and other key minerals because of rising demand for those commodities. The Chinese also wish to avoid supply disruptions by hoarding uranium and other minerals, over the next few years.

Until now, you’ve probably taken for granted a steady, reliable source of electricity. A large part of your dependable energy came about because of the nuclear energy generated by the 103 nuclear reactors in 30 states. Without a steady supply of uranium to power those nuclear reactors, the U.S. electrical transmission network suffers a 20 percent loss. China’s new five-year plan to stockpile uranium had better be a Wake-Up Call to U.S. utilities. If they missed the import of China’s announcement, we are all going to be in a heck of lot of trouble before this decade ends.

Since June 2004, we have warned of supply disruptions for uranium. David Miller, who has since become President and Chief Operating Officer of Strathmore Minerals, argued at the time, “In my opinion, no one has any extra uranium to sell on the spot market. There’s just not excess inventory that people are unloading in the spot market.” We interviewed Miller again in November 2005, for an article entitled, “China Demand for Uranium, World Growth in Electricity Demand to Drive Uranium Price Higher.” Miller warned us, “China is the future wild card… what they are planning for nuclear is probably the most aggressive program in the world.” Miller added in his explanation, “All the new production is already factored into the future market for uranium. We’re underwater right now without building one more nuclear power plant.”

In mid April, during an interview with Sprott Asset Management Market Strategist Kevin Bambrough, we asked him about the Chinese. He answered, “Why shouldn’t they have strategic uranium reserves to supply their nuclear reactors? It makes sense to have a good stockpile of uranium considering the relative cost of nuclear power versus anything else.” And now, the Chinese plan to build up a strategic reserve of uranium for their aggressive nuclear program.

In another interview, also published in April, Gene Clark, CEO of TradeTech LLC warned us, “In reality, the U.S. utilities, which tend to wait longer to contract, may be the ones on the losing end because the Chinese and the Indians will contract early. The implication of current group-think is that the Chinese and Indians are not going to be able to find enough uranium for their new plants. But, they are committing for supplies way out into the future. When the U.S. utilities come to the market, they’re going to look around say, ‘Oh blankety- blank, what happened? Where’s the uranium?’ They’ll be the ones that sat around. I think that is what’s going to happen unless things really change in the way contracting is done in the United States.”

U.S. utilities have been cautioned, warned and advised that the Chinese demand for uranium could very well create a serious energy crisis for the U.S. grid. Nuclear reactors help supply the baseload generation for the U.S. electrical grid. Nuclear power plants provide stability to the electricity transmission network. About one-fifth of electrical generation is derived from nuclear power. Nuclear plants are running at more than 89 percent capacity. U.S. utilities are fiddling around like Nero, who watched Rome burn, hoping that promises of increased uranium production will stem the dramatic uranium price rise.

Severe strains in natural gas supplies, combined with the ongoing uranium supply squeeze, could very well put U.S. consumers on rations for their electricity. Can’t happen, you say? Ask the Brits about how business was conducted in their country, in late 1973 and early 1974, during the Arab oil embargo crisis. Or more recently, California’s rolling brownouts.

An electrical energy crisis is in the making, while U.S. utilities are patiently hoping or praying the price of uranium stop climbing. UxC President Jeff Combs wasn’t kidding when he urged U.S. utilities, during our interview, to “support the expansion of (uranium) production in the United States.” And if you don’t let your local utility know about the upcoming electrical energy crisis, then perhaps it will be your lights they may someday be turning out. The irony of ironies: All of those sweet anti-nuclear folks in Vermont, who depend upon nuclear energy for more than 70 percent of their electricity? They’ll be the first to suffer the most, if U.S. utilities don’t respond to China’s five-year plan.

Why you should fuel your generator with natural gas

Why you should fuel your generator with natural gas

For those people who have invested or thinking about investing in a power generator for back-up power needs, extra electrical needs, or portable electrical needs, a big consideration should be the type of fuel that is used. There are many sources of fuel for providing electrical energy from the generator including gasoline, natural gas, diesel, solar, wind, and a few other fuel sources as well. The type of fuel selected for a generator can have big impacts on everything from the environment, cost, and electrical output. Sources like gasoline and natural gas are non-renewable where as solar and wind come free and are renewable. For continuous, high energy output, gasoline and natural gas are better fuel sources. These are just a few of the considerations. Natural gas, however has some major points over the other fuel sources and is recommended in this article.

Why is natural gas a good fuel source for generators? Well first of all, a lot of homes use natural gas to fuel stoves, ovens, and even fireplaces. Those who have paid the gas bill will often find it is much cheaper than the electrical bill. For those unlucky people with electric ranges, electric water heating, and other electricity dependent heating, the high price of electricity is a big cash vacuum. The price of natural gas is very good compared to other fuel sources as well. The energy output provided verses the cost is better than that of diesel and gasoline.

When it comes to generators, most backup generators work better with natural gas because the supply is already coming to the location. Most homes have a pipeline for their natural gas that can be harnessed by backup generators to supply electricity when other sources are not working. Automatic transfer switches can determine when there are blackouts or other electrical problems and supply electrical power produced from the location’s natural gas source. This means that there is no need to purchase any additional fuel for the generator as it is already pulling from a decent costing fuel source in natural gas. This can not be achieved with some of the other fuel sources as well.

Another reason natural gas should be used in power generators is it’s energy production which is comparable to that of gasoline and diesel. For people who have natural gas products, the energy output is not even noticeable but the cost is. Natural gas makes the energy to cost ratio efficient. For portable generators, the same output can also be achieved as natural gas can be supplied to the generator much like how a barbecue grill is supplied. This makes supplying fuel to portable units easy as all that is needed is a canister of natural gas that just needs to be plugged in to the fuel line.

Natural gas is also cleaner than both diesel and gasoline. Natural gas will cause less engine buildup and lead to longer lifetime of a costly generator. There are also natural gas conversion kits for many types of generators that allow changing the fuel type. These conversion kits can help extend the usefulness of old generators by using natural gas as the fuel type instead.

Natural gas is not only a good energy source for homes but also a good one for portable or emergency power generators as well. They provide high, continuous amounts of energy at a very efficient cost to both residential and business users.