Wind vs. Solar and Passive Solar Design
My wife and I are wanting to build a house off the grid. We\'ve been doing our homework and are wanting some input on the pros and cons of using wind vs. solar power for our primary energy source. Any resources on passive solar design would also be appreciated.
-Jared W., Portland, OR
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Always the best practice is to do the easy and least expensive stuff first. Build a very tight home with an excellent thermal envelope and good solar orientation. Insulate as much as you can attempting to get at least the following R-Values: R-30 walls, R-50 ceiling, R-20 floors (more if not slab).
-Steve Vollstedt, Santa Fe, NM
Check your wind resource to find the annual average wind speed for your location. If you have a good wind resource (10 mph or above) then wind energy will likely produce better than the solar PV compared to dollars spent on the system. If your location is close to the Gorge then you are likely to have a good wind resource. A hybrid system incorporating both wind and solar energy is a good strategy for an off-grid application.
-Cliff Ryden, Blue Pacific Energy
-Cliff Ryden, Paia, HI
A home off the grid will generally involve a combination of wind and solar depending on where it is located. If you are in a mountainous location with a lot of shading then your strategy might be mostly wind with solar for maybe hot water heating during the sunny portion if the day. If you live in the desert :) then solar and or wind are both options. It is hard to answer any question about design without having information on the site.
-Tony Griffy, Chattanooga, TN
Jared - There is an organization called Passive House Northwest that could provide benefit to you. Also, the Passive House US conference will be held in Portland November 5th and 6th - it is focused on the new Passive House certification standard, but will offer many resources regardless of certification issues. For a community near Yakima WA that I recently designed, there is substantial wind, but we are most likely going with grid-tied, free-standing solar as a lower-cost-and-maintenance option for the residents. It will also follow proper orientation and build-tight-insulate-right recommendation of Steve above - essential. Agree with Tony - it depends on your site.
-Robin Rogers, Kirkland, WA