September 8, 2023 - 3:03 pm
When we think solar power we envision large solar panels on roofs, atop parking structures, and now blanketing miles of our dry lake bed.
According to the Department of Energy, “Solar energy is the fastest growing and most affordable source of new electricity in America. As the cost of solar energy systems dropped significantly, more Americans and businesses have taken advantage of clean energy”— energy.gov.
Almost 20 years ago, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (under the George Bush administration), was the original tax credit legislation to incentivize homeowners to go solar. Currently, the federal residential solar energy credit can be claimed on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of a solar photovoltaics (PV) system paid for by the taxpayer.
Boulder City Public Works Dept. offers utility rebate programs on a several energy efficient additions, germanely, solar water heaters. Note that to be eligible for the rebate, the solar domestic water heater must be in addition to an existing electric water heater.
For more information visit: https://www.bcnv.org/284/Utility-Rebate-Program Energystar.gov claims that an Energy Star certified solar water heating system can cut your yearly hot water costs in half. My research shows that an 80-gallon solar water heater tank can cost between $4,000-$4,700. It should be installed by a certified solar water heater specialist and you can expect to pay on average of $1,000-$2,000 in labor.
DIY solar water heater kits are also available for about $2,000, and apparently, if you have rudimentary plumbing skills, relatively simple to install.
A device that can be particularly cooling for our desert heat are solar powered roof mounted vents. With a simple installation, requiring no wiring, these attic fans cool your attic, which can cool your home. They’re ideal for sheds and garages too.
From design and whimsy to efficiency and safety, there’s a plethora of outdoor solar lighting options on the market today. Solar lanterns, string lights, twinkle fairy, firefly lights and garden pathway lights are designed to charge 4 to 6 hours during the day, then automatically turn on at night.
Solar outdoor motion sensor lights are perfect for illuminating your yard, driveway, entry or swimming pool. They reliably charge in sunlight and operate at night. Many come with a wireless remote control so you can choose from several lighting mode options to best fit your needs.
Also, for your yard, or any place outdoorsy, solar Bluetooth speakers and portable power stations can keep the music pumping and devices powered up for hours. Note that some power stations don’t include solar panels.
Solar powered pumps for fountains, waterfalls, sprays etc. allow you to place a water feature virtually anywhere around your yard, as long as the solar panel can be placed in an area that receives ample sunlight. In order to reach a sunny spot, most solar pumps come with a sufficiently long power cord that allows you to place the panel several feet away from the water feature.
In my backyard I have a cascading fountain powered by a solar pump and the solar panel is 6 feet away, discreetly mounted atop our garage.
Albeit on cloudy day the fountain is slow or still, but normally it runs all day until the sun goes down.
The variety and steady development of solar devices and gadgets are greater than ever and still growing. With yearly advances in efficiency and affordability, the solar power movement promises a sunny future.