Easy solar for the home?
August 28, 2006 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Are there any easy and inexpensive solar kits for your home? Someone preferably DIY installable. (in the 500-1k range?)

The new house I bought gets a lot of sunlight from the west (enough to heat the whole house). A bit too much sometimes.

I tried some searching around for solar solutions for the home but only have run across $5k+ solutions.

Also, any good sites for someone new to alternate forms of energy, like on how to integrate with your existing power?
posted by mphuie to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In the past 2 years there have been at least 2 big articles covering home solar options in Mother Earth News. That's one of the best places to find a good assessment of the options out there. Not sure what they put online, but check the library, etc. blah blah blah...
posted by chr1sb0y at 10:31 AM on August 28, 2006

I don't have any direct experience, but the folks at Real Goods and the associated Solar Living Inst. have always impressed me. Clicking around the Real Goods site shows some things in your price range, but you'd have to do some reading about what would be appropriate. You might also try calling them and saying what you've said here. They're pretty evangelical about solar power, so they'd likely help you out by describing a starter system that would be good for you.
posted by OmieWise at 10:32 AM on August 28, 2006

Under $1K the only option that I think is reasonable is a home-built H2O heater (think big steel drums, painted black). Depending on solar intensity, this can mitigate or eliminate your hot-water heating bill, which may be a significant part of your energy budget. Here in Hawaii, solar water heaters are totally cost effective even if commercially bought: our electricity comes in around $.33 a Kilowatt/Hour and the sun is intense year round. However, _even here_, with the highest solar flux in the country, photovoltaic is not (yet) cost effective. Conservation is still by far the biggest component of minimizing your electrical costs / dependence.
posted by lobrien at 12:42 PM on August 28, 2006

Check out Home Power magazine. It is like Make for energy efficient home geeks. Articles are written by the people who do stuff for people who do stuff.
posted by QIbHom at 1:17 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

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