In our modern era of sustainability it has almost become a no-brainer for homeowners to consider an alternative energy source for their residence. Less obvious are the differences between the two major alternative energy sources: solar and wind. Below, we’ve broken down the major differences and examined the effectiveness of each option.
How Do Solar and Wind Options Provide Energy?
Solar power, harnessed via the use of solar panels affixed to a residence, simply require sunlight to provide energy which can be used to power your home, vehicle, and even provide an energy surplus which can be sold back to the electric company. Wind power does essentially the same thing, but through the use of external wind turbines as opposed to a solar panel. Both methods provide clean, renewable energy.
Where Does Each Source Work Best?
Geography plays a large role in the effectiveness of wind energy, impacting both the placement of turbines and determined by how much wind a given region receives to begin with. Ideal environments lack any large buildings or windbreakers, so the Midwestern region of the United States is a great candidate for wind power.
Almost every inch of our planet’s surface receives sunlight at some point, meaning that solar energy can be harnessed nearly anywhere. That being said, geography and direction can impact the amount of power generated by solar panels. Ideally, panels should be installed in a direction that receives maximum sunlight while remaining out of the shadow of elevated topography, whether natural or manmade. Cloud cover is the mortal enemy of solar energy, meaning that the Pacific Northwest and some southeastern states are not the most ideal locations for solar.
What are the Disadvantages of Each?
Solar panels have relatively little in the way of disadvantages. The primary mark against solar is that energy can’t be produced at night, due to the lack of direct sunlight.
Wind power, on the other hand, has several disadvantages that often make it inefficient for residential use. Namely: wind is inherently an intermittent resource as it doesn’t constantly blow; turbines require building approval and special maintenance to operate; and finding a good location for turbines can be tricky due to the windbreaker restrictions. Turbines are also more vulnerable to environmental hazards, such as lightning strikes and storms.
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