While having a solar power system for your home can save you a lot of money on your energy bill, the cost for installing a solar system can range from $15,000 to $20,000 or more for a small to average system. That may not be an option for most people.
But wait, you don’t need to give up on solar power just yet. While a whole-home integration to solar may be over your budget, you can still add smaller and less costly solar items to help save money on your energy bill and help the environment. Here are some options to consider.
Outside Solar Lighting
You can begin your solar journey outside with an array of portable and stationary lights that run on solar power and are easy to install.
Begin with Solar Walkway Lights next to your front entry. Use Solar Twinkle Lights to brighten your garden. Installing is very easy, simply put the lights where you desire and ensure that the solar panel is facing the sky.
You can also light up your porch with solar power for under fifty bucks. On Amazon we found the ALLOMN Solar LED Lamp (2-pack) for $30, the Gama Sonic Outdoor Solar Light Fixture for $38, and the Avaspot Security Light for $20.
Chargers for your Devices
Charge your tablets and phones each day with solar power to save energy and go green. There are many portable solar power banks with USB ports great for charging all your little gadgets.
Our search on Amazon came up with the Anker 15w Dual USB Solar Charger for $40, the Kiizon Solar Phone Charger for $40, and the Dizaul Portable Solar Charger for $20. You can find many more that will fit your needs as well. You may want to look for a solar charger that can charge your devices at the same time that it is recharging in the sunlight. Look to see how many devices it can charge at the same time and if it will protect your device from overcharging.
One downside is that these solar banks generally charge your devices a bit slower than plugging them into the wall. However, if you recharge your solar banks during the day in the sunlight, they will be stored up with energy to charge your devices during the night when you are not as pressed for a quick charge.
Solar Kitchen Appliances
It’s not just your devices that can be powered by solar, your small kitchen appliances like your toaster, crock pot, coffee maker, and instant pot can all be powered by the sun. All you need to do is get a 25-watt power bank that you can set at the window and use a DC-to-AC inverter to plug into the power bank.
You can find all-in-one systems for this for easy set up. Solar power kits are made by Goal Zero with big storage batteries that have all you need to power your small appliance.
Downside is you can only use one appliance at a time, but they will run like normal. This set up may not save you loads of money on your energy bill, but it will benefit the environment by using renewable energy. And a bonus is you will still be able to cook during a power-outage.
Solar Water Heaters
You can save an average of $450 each year on your energy bill by switching to a solar water heater. Kits for solar water heaters can range from $250 to over $1000, however they pay for themselves fast.
Usually there are three distinctive types of solar water heaters. Typically, all types will heat the water and then store is in an insulated storage set-up to maintain the water’s warmth until it is used.
The oldest type of solar water heaters is called Batch Collectors. They remain very popular due to the fact that they are easy to install and use less sunlight to heat the water. Through the use of big black tubes or tanks, Batch Collectors collect heat from solar energy to heat the water inside.
Another type of solar water heater is called Flat-plate Collectors. They utilize a heat absorbing plate that collects heat from the sunlight and relocates it to copper tubes. The water inside the tubes heats up as the tubes heat up. The downside to Flat-plate Collectors is that it is less dependable at heating water consistently than other options.
Evacuated Tube Collectors is the third and most productive type of solar water heaters. This method creates a vacuum by having metal or glass tubes filled with heat transfer fluid or water placed inside bigger glass tubes. Very little heat escapes inside this vacuum, making it very efficient at heating water. A bonus of this system is that is can be utilized in outside temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you are looking to purchase a solar water heater kit, you want to evaluate it’s durability and check the level of water that it can heat up at a time. Look for outside components to be hail-proof, especially when you are installing it on your roof. Find heaters that can give a minimum of 2.1 gallons per minute for flow rate.