The use of solar power in homes increases exponentially every year. In 2016, the United States saw the installation of just over 40,000 solar panels. In 2019, that number increased to nearly 76,000. It is often not possible to run a home on solar power alone. However, solar technology is certainly improving, and people are taking notice. Almost anyone can benefit from converting to some solar-powered gadgets and/or appliances.
If you just moved into a new home and/or are looking to maximize efficiency, it’s a good idea to look into solar power options. The following five solar-powered items can help cut energy costs, go green, and get rid of unsightly wires.
Solar-Powered Garden Lights
Solar-powered garden lights are a convenient way to highlight your outdoor space as well as provide an important safety measure. They can illuminate flower beds and trees. They can also outline walkways, driveways and paths, making them safer for you, your family and guests. Solar-powered garden lights more than pay for themselves by saving someone from tripping and falling.
Garden lights that run on solar power are simple to install. Most of the time, it is just a matter of sticking them in the ground. Most models will automatically power on when it gets dark and shut off in the morning.
Solar-powered garden lights are inexpensive. For example, you can buy a pack of 12 quality outdoor solar lights for just over $30. At this price, the lights cost about $2.50 each.
Solar-Powered Gate Openers
If your home has an electric gate, consider converting it to solar power. On average, electric gates only use about 100 watts per day, so solar-powered gates work just about anywhere. If your home loses power during a storm, a solar-powered gate saves you the hassle of having to get out of your vehicle and open or close the gate manually.
Aside from being powered by the sun, solar-powered gate openers work exactly the same way as conventional ones. Gate openers are equipped with either a hydraulic or electromechanical motor, both can be converted to solar power.
The cost of converting your gate from standard electricity to solar power varies depending on the size of the gate. Conversion kits cost between $250 and $500. Some higher-end models boast hands-free remotes. Simply keep the remote in your vehicle, and the gate opens when you get within close proximity. It also closes automatically as you drive away.
Since electronic gates do not consume much power, converting your electronic gate to solar may not save you a fortune. Most residential gate motors cost about 30 cents per day to operate. A solar-powered gate motor should save you about $110 annually. However, every little bit helps.
Solar-Powered Security Lights
Nothing says “not this house” like solar-powered, motion-activated security lights. Prowlers are often attracted to dark places. However, when security lights shower bright, stealth-killing light on would-be thieves, they will most likely flee immediately.
Many quality solar-powered security lights are inexpensive. Some have 180 degrees of coverage, adjustable settings and cost just $40. They are often easier to install than a hard-wired version and just involve the turning of a few screws.
Because of the brightness of security lights, they consume quite a bit of power. They can run on even modest solar energy because they only turn on when they detect motion. Once they no longer detect motion, they turn themselves off after about 30 seconds.
Solar-powered security lights will save you money, protect your home and probably be easier to install than conventional ones.
Solar-Powered Back-Up Generators
Make no mistake, solar-powered back-up generators can be expensive. On the other hand, losing all the food in your refrigerator and freezer can also be costly. While they may not be a bargain, some models of solar-powered generators are reasonable.
A popular 1800-watt option, for example, sells for right around $1,000 and comes with a 100-watt solar panel for charging. If you want to take full advantage of your region’s renewable energy, you can also purchase a compatible wind turbine. The wind turbine charges your solar-powered generator, making it super green.
These generators are very handy in a power outage. Even a modest solar-powered generator saves you from having to break out the candles and old novels. They can run just about all 12V appliances as well as TVs, phones, computers, laptops and tablets. Subsequently, your family can keep working remotely.
Solar-Powered Pond Pumps
If there is a fountain or a pond at your home, look into converting its pump to solar power. Pond pumps have become more efficient in recent years. As with gate openers, pond pumps do not use a tremendous amount of electricity. The average pond pump has an operating cost of about $26 – $47 per month. This is another great example of how the small stuff adds up in the long run. A solar-powered pond pump could save between $300 – $500. Most models pay for themselves after just one year.
A Solar-Powered Start
Whether you are looking to save energy or just do your part to conserve the environment, solar power is a good place to begin. Solar-powered garden lights can add ambiance to your yard and prevent serious injury. Solar-powered security lights can ward off thieves and other uninvited guests. A solar-powered gate opener will save you money and hassles. Solar-powered back-up generators can ensure that a power outage does not bring your whole life to a grinding halt. These solar-powered devices are great ways to go green, save money and increase your home’s efficiency.
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Aaron Hardy, Guest Contributor
Aaron Hardy is the editor at AxionPower.com. His mission is to help consumers use more solar and alternative energy products in their homes with the goal to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and save money.
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