Solar Power - A Useful Alternative For Rural Properties

My parents have a beautiful property out in the country, where they live year-round. They are surrounded by water and trees, sunlight and fresh breezes. The downside? It's a rural area where they lose power every so often, especially in the winter when the storms arrive.

Of course they could get a generator as a backup. Then one of their friends told them about solar power. This friend has a small solar power system at his own home, just to heat water. Solar energy appealed to my parents who both have a philosophy of trying to live as lightly upon the land as they can. What could be better than using an environmentally-friendly energy alternative like the sun? It's clean, it's renewable, and it's free.

Well, sort of free. The cost of the solar panels, mounting hardware, batteries (for energy storage), and other bits and pieces that go with a solar powered system can get expensive when you add it all up. However, you also save money on your home energy bills when you don't have to keep drawing from the grid. Over time, the cost savings can pay for your solar power system -- and that's when the real savings start. Your system continues to use the energy provided by the sun, completely free.

With a solar home heating system, so long as the sun continues to shine, you have power. It's not uncommon for rural areas to see power go out for several days or longer. Wood-burning stoves can provide heat, and generators can provide electricity... but solar power has advantages over both of these:

    * No need to endure the noise or hassle of a generator
    * No need to chop and haul wood for a wood-burning stove
    * The serene country setting won't be disturbed since a solar home heating system is quiet.
    * No emissions to pollute the fresh country air.

Solar power isn't just for heating your home, though. You can even install solar fans to help keep your home cool during the summer.

Before you decide whether solar power is the right choice for you, get an expert out to assess your location. You do need a sunny location without shade to install the solar panels. You will also need to know your energy needs so that you can determine how large of a system you will need. You might decide to use solar power for part of your home energy needs, rather than powering your entire home.