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Top 10 Solar Tube Reviews : Buying Guide

If you're looking for solar tube reviews, you've come to the right place. Like you, we're believers of taking advantage of the natural light the sun provides. 

Solar tubes has many names. They're known as "light tube," "tubular skylight," "sun tunnel," "sun tube" and many others, but they have the same purpose: to use a sheet metal tube (in varying diameters) with polished interior that allows the light of the sun to pass through the roof and into the home. 

Connected to the metal tube (outdoors on the roof) is a weather-proof plastic globe, while the other end of the tube (in the ceiling indoors) is equipped with a diffuser that spreads the light in a dramatic white glow inside the house. 

Although it is similar to the traditional rectangular sunlight, a solar tube is a much cheaper alternative and offers better flexibility to different house and roof layouts. 

Want to learn which one you need? Here are the best options available in the market today...

Most Affordable 

BEST SOLAR TUBE KITS UNDER $200

  • 25 years warranty
  • Provides ample lighting for most rooms
  • Affordability make it possible to add more solar tube kits

Most Versatile

BEST SOLAR TUBE FOR ALL PARTS OF THE HOUSE

natural light energy systems solar sky light kit
  • Modern design
  • Easy installation
  • Equivalent of up to 500 watts

Most Heavy Duty

BEST SOLAR TUBE FOR EXTREME WEATHER

velux sun tunnel tubular skylight
  • Provides over 90% of sunlight indoors
  •  20 years warranty
  • Super-strong components

10 Best Solar Tube Reviews

 natural light 10-inch tubular skylight kit for flat roof
  • Illuminates up to 150 square feet area
  • Equivalent of up to 300 watts
  • Hurricane-tested

Natural Light's 10-inch tubular skylight is perfect for those living in areas often passed by hurricanes. In fact, aside from being NFRC-certified for Energy Efficiency, this brand passes Florida code requirements with flying colors.

This kit is beginner-friendly: It includes 4 feet of tubing and even sealant. The materials are high quality, which is a big deal, because you won't have to replace the solar tube too quickly down the road.

Probably the most common issue with Natural Light's tubular skylight kit is the type of flashing chosen. While the brand uses big and heavy gauge aluminum, choosing the right type will prevent potential leaking. If you're not sure, Natural Light's customer support is super helpful, so call them for flashing recommendation.

​PROS

​CONS

  • Some types of roof require professional installation (and additional fees that go with it)
us sunlight solar 1914st radiant skylight tube
  • Made of hail-resistant materials
  • Designed for asphalt shingle roof
  • Installation possible for both professionals and DIY-ers

If you have low-pitched asphalt shingle or fiberglass shingle type of roof,  this 14-inch solar tube with low-profile flashing from Radiant Skylight lets you add up to 90% of light transmitted from the roof lens down to your desired indoor space. 

This US Sunlight solar tube kit consists of 6 feet of flex tube attached to the skylight and a round, single diffuser. Contrary to what the instruction pamphlet says, there are about 8 feet of flexible tube, which is more than enough for most installations. In fact, many say the provided tube is longer than you'd need, so prepare to cut to fit your set-up. 

There is no need for major reframing, structural changes or renovations, but know that if your ceiling is low, the light would look more of a spotlight. The way to counter this is to add additional tubes nearby to "spread" light horizontally.

​PROS

  • No need for major renovation
  • 1- to 2-hour installation
  • Can withstand extreme weather like hail

​CONS

  • Black-painted flashing may not be to everyone's liking
natural light energy systems solar sky light kit
  • 13-inch model illuminates up to 300 square feet space
  • ENERGY STAR® Qualified
  • Equivalent of up to 500 watts

Another one from Natural Light, this 13-inch solar tube model is designed with black flashing, 4 feet of tubing and a domed prismatic interior diffuser, which perfectly fits fiberglass-asphalt shingle roof types. 

Like most solar tubes on this list, installation of this model is possible even for beginners. Of course, there will be a learning curve (especially if you're used to skylights than light tubes), but once you've installed one on your roof, the next one would be much easier. It could even bring in light from the moon at nighttime. 

Note that because the included flashing is designed for pitched Fiberglass-asphalt shingle roof applications only, you have to buy Turret extensions or tile roof flashing kits (sold separately) if needed. 

The protective plastic of the Natural Light Energy Systems 13kxxx 13" Solar Sky Light Kit is a common complaint, but if you remove it before beginning installation, it won't become an issue near the end of the install.

​PROS

  • Hurricane-tested
  • High quality roof and exterior components
  • Comes with tools, sealant and hardware needed out of the box
  • 25 years warranty

​CONS

  • Only 4 feet of tubing included
velux sun tunnel tubular skylight
  • Energy Star labeled
  • Can be extended with additional tubular skylight (sold separately)
  • 20-year tunnel warranty

This 10-inch, double-strength, acrylic sun tunnel tubular skylight comes with low-profile flashing, which provides the elegant and modern appeal from the roof. This set-up results to up to 98% additional lighting mainly thanks to the newly-added 99.99% silver reflective layer. 

The VELUX 10-inch sun tunnel tubular skylight was made for shake or shingle roofs with 15 to 60 degree pitch. 

This kit is definitely heavy-duty with high-quality components. The downside to this is that installation won't be "under two hours" as advertised. Setting it up would take more time (due to the tunnel's strength and weight), but it is doable even if you're doing it yourself. Plus, it includes a scaled dimensional layout of the hole.

​PROS

  • Exceptional customer support
  • Double strength
  • High-efficiency without additional cost

​CONS

  • Professional installation can be expensive
odl tubular skylight kit
  • Ideal for those looking for a complete solar tube kit
  • Includes lens diffuser, trim ring and leak-proof flashing
  • Installs under an hour

ODL's 10-inch solar tube kit is one of the most-complete kits in this list. It has everything you need, such as a trim ring, flashing and lens diffuser (that helps in scattering light or spotlighting in a specific area). It is also equipped with ODL-patented solar lens and the brand's adjustable skylight tube with elegant-looking mirror finish.  

Because this kit comes with flat aluminum flashing, some people may need to order the kit for flat roofs. This is an important consideration to ensure your solar tube fits your existing roof without the need for framing, dry-walling or re-painting. 

The best thing about the ODL 10-inch Tubular Skylight Kit being an old model is that there are a lot of useful tips from fellow owners.

​PROS

  • Easy to install
  • Complete solar tube kit
  • 48 inches of adjustable tube included

​CONS

  • Not the newest model in the market (released in 2004)
natural light, tubular skylight kit
  • Lights up to 300 square feet
  • Ideal for asphalt type roof
  • Hurricane-tested

This 13-inch solar tube model from Natural Light is equipped with flat roof flashing (perfect for asphalt-type roof installations), high-impact acrylic dome, and hurricane-tested tubes and other components.

Illuminating up to 300 square feet of space, which is an equivalent of about 500 watts, this set-up will dramatically brighten up a kitchen, cabinet, entryway, or any other areas that used to be "blind spots."

And like other Natural Light solar tubes, you can choose to custom powder-coat the flashing to match your roof color.

​PROS

  • Energy Star-qualified (could qualify for tax credits)
  • 25 years manufacturer's warranty
  • Easy to install, even sealer is included
  • Solid instruction manual

​CONS

  • Fingerprints easily gets onto the mirror-like finish, so be careful during installation
solatube 290ds daylighting system skylight
  • From one of the older solar tube brands in the market
  • Illuminates up to 300 square feet of space
  • Flexible to accommodate many roof types

Solatube's 14-inch Daylighting System Skylight is composed of an acrylic dome, Vusion diffuser, pitched metal flashing, top and bottom tubes, as well as sealant and fastener to put everything in place. Plus, the light deflector included in the Solatube kit gives you some control of the type of light brought into the house. 

The tube is 30 feet long, which is pretty long for most houses, so you might need to cut it down to fit your specific needs. 

Solatube has been providing a power-saving option to homeowners for decades now, so you'd have more information about its solar tubes than any other brands in the market.

​PROS

  • Effect filter available (sold separately by Solatube)
  • 10 year manufacturer's warranty
  • Completely USA Made

​CONS

  • Might need professional install for tricky set-ups
14 in. sun tunnel tubular skylight
  • Power-saving solution for homes with many rooms
  • Tube that expands to six or eight feet
  • Features low-profile flashing for pitched fiberglass asphalt single o shake-type roofs

Velux America's 14-inch model sun tunnel has all the components you need to bring the sunlight into your home for cheap. This kit includes exterior dome, roof flashing, 8 feet of tubing, and interior diffuser, which dramatically helps in spreading light output more evenly.

Like other solar tubes, there's a possibility that insects get through the lens. What's great about this Velux sun tunnel is it makes it easy for you to clean the lens with just a twist on the trim ring's lock. It's an underrated, but much-appreciate feature.

​PROS

  • Easy to install, even for beginners
  • Additional tubing can be purchased from Velux
  • Quick twist cleaning

​CONS

  • Light is on the cool side (may be a problem if you're after something warmer)
odl ez14scanh 14" tubular skylight
  • Illuminates a room up to 300 square feet
  • Energy Star qualified
  • Made for asphalt roofs

ODL's 14-inch tubular skylight kit is a massive-looking sun tunnel. You might get intimidated at first, but when you're inside a home with this model installed, there's a good chance you'll get wowed by the 48-inch, highly reflective tubing that delivers the sun's light from the UV-protected acrylic dome down to your room. 

Positioning the ODL Tubular Skylight kit properly is important, unless of course if you live in an area where cloudy days are more often than not.

​PROS

  • Polyethylene flashing
  • Dome constructed with ODL-patented optics
  • Choice of DIY installation or professional installation

​CONS

  • Must be careful in sealing the seam of tubes (to prevent air and insects from coming in)
natural light tubular skylight 18
  • Illuminates up to 500 square feet
  • Sunlight brought in is equivalent to 1000-watt of light bulb
  • Ideal for both residential and commercial installation

Natural Light's 18-inch tubular skylight was designed for use on pitched Fiber-glass asphalt shingle roofs. Aside from the massive size, what's great about this model is that the highly-reflective tubing doesn't crack, peel, delaminate or turn yellow. 

This model of Natural Light also features a heavy-duty acrylic dome, seamless commercial grade powder-coated black aluminum flashing, a diffuser, and ceiling trim ring. 

Installation is as easy as most of the best solar tubes here, but because of the size of Natural Light's 18-inch tubular skylight, you could probably do the setup without a professional’s help only if you have some help.

​PROS

  • Comes with 25 years warranty
  • Light tube is crack-proof and stain-proof
  • Produces massive amounts of light

​CONS

  • Doesn't accommodate metal roofing

Factors to Consider When Buying  Solar Tubes

Almost every solar tube in the market looks alike, but just like many solar products, every tiny component makes a huge difference. As such, choosing the solar tube kit should depend on the following considerations:

  • Budget - Professionally installed solar tubes cost an average $750, which is a lot cheaper than the average $2k skylight. But if you know how to work your way around the roof and you can install the solar tube on your own, you could find kits sold for around $300.
  • Light needed per square feet - Solar tubes are usually placed in rooms and areas of the house that require constant light, such as bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, or stairways. It can also be used for laundry rooms or walk-in closets. As such, you have to know how big a solar tube you'll need for the room intended. Generally, a 10-inch tube can light up a 200-square feet space since it is equivalent to 3 bulbs of 100-watt each.
  • Roof type - Not all solar tubes can work with any type of roof. If your roof has slope between 15 to 60 degrees, you'll need a solar tube with flashing (this is usually included in most kits). Also consider the material of your roof, since most solar tube kits were designed for asphalt shingles, but they would also work with tile or metal roofing as long as you get flashing adapters.
  • Location of the solar tube - The spot where you install the light tube will affect how much light it brings indoors. A globe is recommended to be installed southwest of the roof for best light source possible.
  • Weather and climate - Solar tubes can work in both hot and cold climates, but problematic areas are those that suffer from heavy snow (could cause cracking of the dome), or high humidity (could lead to condensation inside the tube). There are hurricane-proof solar tubes, but you have to make sure the dome is made of polycarbonate.

If you're planning to bring the solar tube through multiple levels, it is possible, but may require professional installation (especially if you have no idea how to go through HVAC, wiring or plumbing).

Wrap Up: Which is the Best Solar Tube for My Home?

These solar tube reviews are a great start if you’re looking for the perfect model, but you have to understand that the best solar tube for you depends on your lighting needs. For example, if you’re trying to bring light into a tiny space, the budget-friendly Natural Light 10-inch Tubular Skylight Kit for Flat Roof can be a good choice. 

If you have a more complicated set-up such as multi-levels, rooms bigger than 300 square feet, extensive HVAC systems, then the best solar tube kits for you are the ones that would meet your requirements. For example, the VELUX 10" Double Strength Acrylic Rigid Low-Profile Sun Tunnel Tubular Skylight would fit most households that are currently undergoing roof renovations, while the Natural Light Energy Systems 13kxxx 13" Solar Sky Light Kit is best for rooms small enough to need just one solar tube unit, but big enough that a 10-inch model wouldn’t cut it. 

Once you do find a solar tube perfect for your requirements, there's a big possibility that you won't ever go back to the time when you haven't taken advantage of the sun.

10 Best Solar Attic Fan Models

If you're looking for the best solar attic fan, you're probably one among hundreds of people faced with the burden of a super-hot attic. 

It's a common problem, especially since most HVAC systems focus on cooling living areas of a house. All is well and good, until of course summer arrives and the attic is taking the brunt of the heat. This is problematic because of two things: 

  • If you're using the attic as someone's bedroom or a storage room, it may not be livable during super-hot months.
  • If you leave the attic virtually empty all year-round, you may not notice this issue. However, you might notice that your HVAC system is working extra-hard or even producing less cold air.

One way to solve this is to replace or upgrade your HVAC system, but it can be a huge investment to do so. Installing a solar attic fan is actually a more affordable and efficient fix. Check out 10 of the best solar attic fan brands we've handpicked for you...

Most Affordable 

BEST SOLAR ATTIC FAN UNDER $500

  • Very customizable with different sizes and options available
  • Affordable
  • Effective once installed

Most Attractive

BEST DESIGNED SOLAR ATTIC FAN

broan 345so attic ventilator
  • Made of heavy-duty plastics and metals
  • Innovative and flat design (no bulky equipment on your roof)
  • Fully weatherproof

Most Featured-packed

BEST SOLAR ATTIC FAN WITH MOST FEATURES

Amtrak 14-inch Solar Attic Fan
  • Huge fan blade and housing for its size
  • 40-watt solar panel provides ventilation for spaces up to 2250 square feet
  • All parts USA made

10 Best Solar Attic Fan Models of 2019

Ventilation in the attic helps by pushing hot air out and pulling cooler air in, while properly circulating air inside. The solar attic fan removes stuffy, stale and unhealthy air from your attic without spending additional money on electricity.

In general, solar attic fans can easily be installed, if you know your way around a drill, saw and screwdriver. But if you find your roofing, wiring, or HVAC system complicated and would rather a professional install the solar attic fan for you, you have an option to hire a pro anytime.

natural light 36-watt solar attic fan
  • Arizona-based company, but Germany-made motor
  • 25-year warranty on solar panel and motor
  • Fully operational straight off the box

Natural Light 12-watt solar attic fan simply works. It can easily improve ventilation of a space up to 1,260 square feet. While this varies depending on local climate, that's still pretty powerful, considering the fan runs from free solar energy. This gorgeous-looking solar attic fan operates at up to 893 cfms to reduce the load of your air-conditioning system. 

The kit includes a high impact photovoltaic solar panel housed on a leak-proof aluminum. Underneath, it is powered by a DC motor, which you'll notice is a lot more quieter than any of your plugged HVAC systems. Natural Light makes a thermostat and fire safety switch available (for an extra fee) if you wish to add them to your solar attic fan.

​PROS

  • Equipped with stainless-steel mesh to keep rodents away
  • Super quiet motor
  • High quality build with weatherproofed aluminum housing

​CONS

  • Professional installation costs $200 or more (varies between provider and location)
 iliving smart exhaust solar roof attic exhaust fan
  • Available in different sizes and options for add-on features
  • Provides ventilation for up to 2000 square feet of space
  • Ideal for roof, greenhouse, attic, side of the house, RV, boats and so on
  • 15-year warranty for motor

iLIVING's Smart Exhaust solar roof attic fan features a 20-watt adjustable polycrystalline solar panel. It runs with an IP68 waterproof brushless motor, which operates as quietly as a typical oscillating fan. 

This model comes built-in smart thermostat control 65-130f with enable/disable feature. There are extra fees involved, but if you want your fan to have an on/off switch, screen guard or non-stop running AC power supply, you can choose these options when checking out.

​PROS

  • Sleek-looking, all-black design
  • Adjustable solar panel (goes from 0° to 15° and 30° to 45°)
  • Well thought of add-on options

​CONS

  • Installation issues may occur (due to size details and accessories included)
gbgs solar attic fan
  • Flexible solar panels (can be moved in various directions)
  • 10 to 25 years warranty on parts
  • Auto on/off motor

The GBGS solar attic fan is designed to help replace stale and hot indoor air with cold air from outdoors during summer months, then remove indoor moisture during winter without the need for additional HVAC units. It is designed to automatically turn on the motor when temperature reaches 77°F and automatically shut off once the temperature cools down to 65°F.

Equipped with a 20-watt solar panel, this GBGS solar attic fan can adjust 90 degrees horizontally (thanks to the bracket included), and adjust its position against the sun from 0/15/30/45 degrees. Its IP68 waterproof, 24-volt brushless motor delivers enough power without the noise that usually befalls motors of its size.

​PROS

  • Motor protection with auto on/off feature
  • Nylon-fiber aluminum fan blades
  • Ventilates up to 1,750 cubic feet per minute (CFM)

​CONS

  • Only for roof and similar surface
broan 345so attic ventilator
  • Provides ventilation for up to 537 cubic feet per minute
  • Impressively designed and well-built
  • Fully weatherproof

The BROAN 345SO may look tiny, but it is one of the prettiest solar attic fans in the market today.  It was designed with a 28-watt, tempered glass solar panel housed in a UV-stabilized, rugged ABS plastic that can impressively withstand the strongest winds, hail, or storm. 

One small, yet important detail, is the aluminum gauge screen that keeps birds, insects and small animals out of the fan. It's also made of aluminum, so you know it's going to last in keeping airflow free from blockage.

​PROS

  • Heavy-duty plastic can be painted
  • Rust-resistant, weatherproof solar panels
  • Easy installation
  • Optional thermostat available
  • Unobtrusive roof installation

​CONS

  • Non-adjustable solar panels
remington solar attic fan
  • Equipped with noise-dampening technology
  • Built-in thermostat and humidistat

Remington's solar attic fan is a rectangular-shaped all-black roof mount with a stylish design and simple, yet durable parts. It is made with a quiet brushless 24-volt DC Motor, which is powered up by solar power gathered by the 30-watt polycrystalline solar panel. 

This Remington model was designed to ventilate up to 1550 CFM for 2500 square-feet attics. 

The cool thing about the Remington solar attic fan is that it already pre-installed the thermostat and humidistat out of the box. Compared to other brands that make these optional (with around $50 value each), adding these parts save you some money. Plus, it is built with noise-dampening technology as well.

​PROS

  • Beginner-friendly, one-hour installation
  • Built-in thermostat comes free of charge
  • Quiet operation

​CONS

  • Only 12 month limited warranty
Amtrak 14-inch Solar Attic Fan
  • Ideal for RV, garage, greenhouse or Gabel vent
  • Brand backed with 30 years of solar power experience
  • Built in the USA

With Amtrak's solar-powered attic fan, you don't need to worry about ventilating the stuffy air in your attic. It powers up once it gets too hot in the attic, then shuts down when no longer needed. 

The Amtrak solar attic fan is built with 40-watt solar panel, thermal-protected motor and a 10-inch high efficiency fan blades made by renowned fan-blade manufacturer Revor.  All these components work together effectively in providing ventilation for areas up to 2250 square feet. 

And if you're going to install this on your own, you'd be pleased to know that the Z-brackets included in the pack are already pre-drilled for your bolts and screws. Interested in built-in thermostat? This can be free too, but you'd need to request it first.

​PROS

  • Large 14-inch fan housing
  • Quick-connect wires and pre-drilled brackets for easy installation
  • 25 feet of wire included in the box
  • Can be installed open louver

​CONS

  • 10-inch Fan blade may look awkwardly small against its big housing
eco-worthy 25w solar powered vent fan
  • Auto on/off operation
  • Flexible placement - works on roof and everywhere else
  • Expandable (if you want)

If you know your way around solar panels, this ECO-WORTHY solar-powered fan can be a very good option for you. Not only can you place this on your attic, gable roof vent, greenhouse, and any other spots in or outside your home, this kit is also flexible enough for you to add more panels (or fans) if needed. 

ECO-WORTHY's solar vent fan includes a 25-watt fan, high efficiency brushless motor and 30-watt solar panel that you can fold (if you have a small space) or extend (up to 37.2 × 18.6 inch) to have more sunlight coverage. On paper, the ECO-WORTHY solar-powered fan is supposed to ventilate areas up to 1960 cubic feet per minute, but many report it is near the 1000 CFM mark.

​PROS

  • 5-year solar panel warranty
  • Fan can operate at low voltage (as low as 4 volts)
  • Comes with 6 brackets, 16 feet cables, bolts and screws for installation

​CONS

  • Only 1-year motor warranty
solar blaster solar roof vent
  • Tiny solar-powered attic fan
  • Manual quality-tested before shipped
  • Used on roof, greenhouse, sheds, garages, containers, RV, and so on

If you're not a fan of huge systems on your roof due to its bulky appearance, or if your roof cannot handle any heavy components installed, the Solar Blaster roof vent fans could be your solution. They're small enough to not add much weight or obstruction in view from your roof.

Solar Blaster's solar-powered roof and attic ventilation fans feature a 3-watt solar panel (25-year rated) on top of a square-shaped high-quality leak-proof housing. There's also the 50k-hour rated fan with two-ball bearing and 1/8-inch mesh screen to keep insects and pests away from the vents.

The advantage to this kind of solar attic fan is that it's a set-and-forget equipment, but it also means there would be less control since you'd just let the fan "do its thing" whenever temperature increases

​PROS

  • 5-year warranty
  • USA-based family business
  • Super-small footprint
  • No need to access attic during installation

​CONS

  • May need more than one unit to provide ventilation to bigger spaces
hqst solar powered attic fan with adjustable solar panel
  • Maintenance-free operation
  • All-in-one unit (no wiring, cables needed)
  • Built with durable, weatherproofed materials

If you like the design of Solar Blaster, but don't have the funds to buy two or more units, this HQST solar-powered attic fan should be the model you're looking for. It can be installed on most sloped or flat roof types, whether it's concrete tile, wood, asphalt shingle, metal, or slate.

Designed with an all-black, durable aluminum housing, The HQST solar attic fan is comprised of the 15-watt polycrystalline solar panel placed perfectly on top. Hidden under the panel is the 12-inch fan and 1P68-rated brushless DC motor.

​PROS

  • Snap-on thermostat is available as an add-on
  • Solar panels are adjustable
  • Automatic light control
  • Quiet operation

​CONS

  • One unit of this HQST solar attic fan can only ventilate an area of 1076 square feet max
natural light ultra low-profile 24-watt solar attic fan
  • Popular solar panel manufacturer
  • Built using commercial-grade materials
  • Ideal for small homes with Fiberglass-Asphalt shingle roofs

Natural Light's smaller solar attic fan is for those who prefer style with function. Its ultra low profile makes it a good option, especially with the black powder-coated aluminum housing and black background, if you're not a fan of big and bulky equipment on top of your house. 

What's great about this model is that even if it's obviously a well-designed solar fan, it is also solidly built with useful features. It is equipped with a 24-watt solar module and 17-volt motor, which has a venting capacity of up to 2100 square feet of attic space per fan. And because all the wires and cables are already built into this kit, installation is user-friendly and hassle-free. 

Natural Light also has an impressive 25-year warranty for all the parts. Yes, motor, solar panels, fan, the works. You'd get your money's worth way before any damage occurs to your solar attic fan.

​PROS

  • Unobtrusive, ultra-low profile
  • Could withstand hurricane-level winds
  • No-wiring installation

​CONS

  • Fire safety and thermostat switch available (but sold separately)

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Solar Attic Fan

When choosing between the best solar attic fan for your home, take note of these several considerations:

  • Space availability - Some of these fans are small and portable, but others can be as huge as HVAC systems. The good news though is manufacturers will state the square footage needed for a particular make and model, so know your available space in the attic to see if the solar attic fan you plan to buy is best for you.
  • Solar attic fan parts
  •  Motor - Solar attic fans should have powerful motors to be able to perform efficiently. 
  • Solar panel - What kind of solar panel is incorporated into the solar attic fan? Make sure to check how powerful the panel or panels are. Ideally, look out for those with around 20 to 30 watts. Another feature you should look out for when it comes to solar panels is an adjustable setup that lets you pivot the panels or position for better sunlight coverage. 
  • Materials used - Because you'll be placing the solar attic fan near the roof outdoors, the model you buy should be weather-resistant. Check materials used for the solar attic fan and make sure it is built with rust- and corrosion-free stainless steel, high quality plastics, and metallic blades. 
  • Thermostat options - If you want to be able to control fan temperature or attach a thermostat, there are solar attic fans that could accommodate these requirements.
  • Other features - Other features such as adjustable fan speed may not be present on all kinds of solar attic fans, but you can either watch out for this specific feature or have it custom-made.
  • Local weather - Consider the climate and weather your area suffers throughout the year. Do you get intense winds? snow storms? all-sun? Find a "weatherproofed" solar attic fan based on your area's weather and climate.

Cost and warranty should also be a consideration, especially if you're looking for a long-term solution to high temperatures in your attic. 

Wrap Up: Which is the Best Solar Attic Fan for My Home?

All the solar attic fans we’ve handpicked for this list can be effective for your space. 

But here’s our top three: iLIVING Smart Exhaust Solar Roof Attic Fan for those on a budget, BROAN 345SO Attic Ventilator if you think design should be second-priority to efficiency, and the Amtrak 14 inch Solar Attic Fan for those who want to use a solar attic fan beyond their roofs.  

One of the most important things to know about solar attic fans is that there is no “best solar attic fan” for everyone. A particular brand and make may be perfect for your neighbor’s greenhouse, but will be the worst choice for your 2,000-square feet attic. And this definitely does not mean the product is worthless or ineffective.

The best solar attic fan for your home is the unit that can accommodate the space you need to cool down. And if you can’t find any solar attic fan big enough for your needs, it could mean that you might have a better chance of you bought two or more of your chosen solar attic fan

Geothermal Energy

The history of geothermal dates back to 4th July 1904 when Prince Piero Ginori tested the first geothermal power generator in Larderello, Italy. This was a means to find new ways to generate electricity due to an increase in demand. From then on, geothermal power production became widely known, but not quite adopted.

​How Geothermal Energy Works

In geothermal power production, there are pipes dug deep into the ground so that the hot water that is trapped inside the earths crust rises up as steam to rotate turbines just with its sheer pressure. The motion from the turbines is then transferred to generators which convert it from mechanical energy to electrical energy. The electrical energy then is then transmitted to electric grids where it is distributed to end consumers who use it as electricity in homes and businesses.

If you're wondering where this hot water comes from, then you might want to know a few things about geothermal reservoirs. Simply put, they are large pools heated by magma underground from the earth's core. Temperatures in the earth's core rise above 4000°C. The liquids which rise above the surface are formed in the crust where temperatures are higher than 350°C, but because of these high temperatures, they almost always come out in gaseous state first. In fact, what we usually see as geysers and hot springs are merely cooled down forms of the superheated fluids. In essence, geothermal power production deals with harnessing the steam and converting its kinetic energy to mechanical energy and finally to electric energy.

​Geothermal Energy Generation Cost

The cost of a constructing a geothermal power plant is far higher than the cost of constructing an oil rig. Physically, geothermal power plants look more complex than oil rigs because they require a lot more apart from the turbines that will convert the kinetic energy in steam to mechanical energy and then to electrical energy. The reasons for these high costs are obvious as well. The labor required, for instance, is more expensive than the one that is required when setting up an oil rig. In addition, factors such as drilling costs also play a big role too.

However, after construction, the costs incurred are rather minimal. The cost of construction of a geothermal power plant could be as low as $3400 per kilowatt installed and for small-scale power plants, this figure could be lower at $3000. This is in comparison to other renewable energy sources like hydroelectric power which costs far more. While it is generally accepted that construction of geothermal power plants is more expensive than the construction of oil rigs, it's important to note that its costs varies from one project to another depending on the size of the plant and even the local environmental policies.

With regard to construction time, geothermal power plants also take some considerable time to build. According to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), a new geothermal project takes between 3 to 5 years to start producing electricity. Taking a stepwise strategy for development, the construction takes about 6 years. This comprises of 3 years for reconnaissance, surface exploration and test drilling and 3 years for production drilling and power plant.

Potential for Geothermal Power

Geothermal power is recognized globally and has a lesser negative impact to the environment than other renewable sources. Despite that, it's used by less than 2% of the world's population. This is because geothermal is location-specific since it can only be tapped in specific areas.

Despite its unavailability in most regions, the future potential for geothermal energy is bright. Research shows that 10,000 meters below the earth's surface, there's a high amount of heat which when tapped, can produce more than 50,000 times the energy that would be obtained from fossil fuels. This is where the Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) comes in. EGS is a technology that geologists and geothermal experts are using to drill into potential geothermal sites. The system works by pouring fluids into the rocks to induce the geothermal process when the rocks are fractured and the liquid seeps through. The resultant effect is that heat is brought to the surface and in turn produces steam which is then harnessed to produce electricity.

In Europe, for example, only about 2.5GW has been tapped, but with EGS, the power that can be produced increases to about 6,500GW. That said, the EGS hasn't been without problems. Since the beginning of its use, cases of earthquake and earth tremors and even fracturing of the rocks when the water heats up too fast have been experienced. When asked, the geothermal experts said that the quakes can be prevented by drilling at the right positions during the start of a project. Should the EGS project become mainstream there's going to be a lot more power than we actually need.

Geothermal Energy by Country

It would be unfair to talk about the potential for geothermal power without reviewing the countries that can actually make geothermal power the norm. Geysers is perhaps one of the many geothermal power plants that you'll often come across. Located in the western state of California, Geysers was perhaps the first plant to be constructed in the US, the same country which also produces the largest power (3,591MW) as of 2018. Despite this, geothermal power only contributes about 0.3% of the country's total energy. Iceland, on the other hand, is a country with a total geothermal power output of 755MW but contributes up to 30% of this energy to its national grid. This makes it one of the few countries to widely adopt this renewable source of energy.

In South East Asia, Philippines began construction of geothermal power plants in 1977, and over the years, the country now produces up to 1,868MW which is used by 27% of the country. This made it secure the third rank in the list below in terms of geothermal energy production globally. Kenya has a capacity of 676MW making it the first African country to make it on the top 10 list. The country is in 9th position in the world in terms of geothermal energy production and contributes to more than 51% of the country's electricity.

As of 2018, the countries with highest geothermal energy outputs include:

  1. USA 3591MW
  2. Indonesia 1948MW
  3. Philippines 1868MW
  4. Turkey 1200MW
  5. New Zealand 1002MW
  6. Mexico 955MW
  7. Italy 944 MW
  8. Iceland 755MW
  9. Kenya 676MW
  10. Japan 542MW

All other countries have a cumulative value of 960MW making the countries on this list stand out. Currently, the energy is used in 24 countries and another 70 are constructing geothermal power plants or are using it in small scales. As technology improves, more countries are finding new ways of exploiting their geothermal energy potentials. With proper technology and incentives from their governments. The high initial cost required to set up a geothermal power plant is what makes most countries, especially developing ones, reluctant to harnessing this renewable energy.

Types of Geothermal Power Plants

To the common person, geothermal power plants are all the same and are indistinguishable, but there are actually three types of geothermal power plants in existence today. The type of plant used for a particular region will depend on how hot the resource is and how much geothermal energy is available.

1. Dry Steam Power Plants

These are the oldest and have been in use for more than 100 years. A pipe is placed deep in the geothermal well which then facilitates the flow of hot liquids and steam upwards to rotate a turbine which then converts the mechanical energy to electrical energy. This type of geothermal power plant is suitable for wells with high liquid temperatures.

2. Flash Cycle Steam Plants

These are suitable for wells which generally have lower temperatures than those being used in dry steam plants. They are more common because there aren't so many geothermal wells that have naturally occurring high temperature steam. The liquid from the earth's crust usually rises from the well and to the surface similarly to dry steam power plants. As the pressure of the liquid reduces, it is converted to steam which then passes through the turbine to be converted to energy.

3. Binary Cycle Plants

Binary plants use two vessels with different boiling points hence the name binary. The first vessel contains the hot water from the well. The water rises up the well and flows through a heat exchanger to the vessel. The second vessel contains a fluid of lower boiling point such as butane. After it flows through, it vaporizes since it has a higher boiling point and the steam is relayed to the turbines to produce electricity. This process is not so common but has a high probability of use in future because it can be used in locations that are far from geothermal hotspots. In addition, the lower temperatures used in the process may reduce cost of production.

Uses of Geothermal Energy

There are various ways geothermal energy is used in various countries around the world. In ancient times, people near the fields used to fetch the water directly from hot springs for bathing, cooking and other chores around the house and even skinning their game – a practice which continues to date.

People also use geothermal energy for other reasons depending on the needs and their geographical location. In Iceland for example, residents have installed heat pumps and whole districts have direct heating systems to warm their houses during winter.

The government even relies on the geysers to melt the snow in the estates which makes life comfortable for its citizens. Some countries are also using geothermal to heat up greenhouses to facilitate the growth of "fragile crops" or even to ensure they grow during the extremely cold seasons. From roses grown in Kenya to citrus trees and other vegetables in Hungary, many organizations are slowly coming to the realization of the benefits of heated greenhouses for farming.

Fish farms are also using this energy to heat up their farms to protect the tropical species from winter seasons since it affects their lifespan. In Netherlands, the government has built bike roads powered with geothermal energy to avoid the risks caused by ice during cold seasons. While this can be categorized under electricity generation, it is rather unique as it is not such a common use especially in countries like the Philippines and Kenya.

Another use is for electricity generation which is actually the most mainstream use. Most countries which are harnessing geothermal energy are using it to provide electricity for their citizens. For some, it is too low, so they use in small-scale or merely for the industrial sectors. For others, like the top 10 that had been listed earlier, production is high enough to power homes and businesses and even export some of the electricity to neighboring countries.

All in all, it's safe to say geothermal has little to no negative impacts to the environment. When it's being produced, some chemical compounds like oxides of Sulphur may get released into the atmosphere which can in turn be harmful to both human beings and the environment.

However, it has less than 5% carbon footprint in comparison with the emissions from fossil fuels. In addition, there are set measures that limit the harmful effects of these toxic gases as well. For example, steam is usually filtered of the harmful gases before it is let into the turbines, making it somewhat less harmful to the environment. While it may be expensive to initially set up a geothermal energy plant, its contribution to clean energy cannot go unnoticed.

Presently, the main downside to geothermal energy generation in comparison with another renewable source of energy like solar energy is the fact that it's not available in all areas. As such, not everyone can reap the benefits of geothermal energy in their countries. However, it may not take long before developing countries that shied away from geothermal energy production come to terms with the fact that it is a far cleaner and more reliable renewable source of energy.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is one of the most developed forms of renewable energy, and it ideally revolves around the kinetic energy that is produced because of the effect of air currents. During a sunny day, heat from the sun warms up the air which gets lighter until it rises above cold air. The endless cycle between warm air rising to the top and cool air moving to the bottom is what in turn creates wind.

​How Wind Energy is Produced

Wind power is harnessed using wind turbines. These turbines are typically large motor blades attached to a generator which are placed on a long support stand. Physically, they look like household fans, but the only difference is that while the fans use electricity to propel air, the turbines generate electricity when wind blows through the fans that are connected to the turbines. The wind energy is transformed from kinetic to mechanical energy which is then converted to electricity usable in homes. Also worth noting is that there are two ways of harvesting wind power.

1. Onshore Wind Farms

This means that the turbines are installed on land on a favorable landscape for wind harvesting. The main advantage of onshore harvesting is that it's a lot cheaper since there's no complexity in installing of turbines. The main downside of onshore though, is the noise that comes with it. Turbines can get really noisy, and they have been known to cause discomfort for some people.

2. Offshore Wind Farms

This is where the turbines are located in the lake or sea to generate power to mainland. The main downside to this is the cost of setting up. The turbines are set up spanning a large area in the sea which makes it expensive to install. They'll need to be firm, to withstand the turbulent storms, to ensure that they always work properly and among other things, have a positive impact to the environment.

While the setup is costly, offshore wind turbines have better advantages. One, is the noise will be far away from homes meaning they won't affect people. Two, the death of birds and bats will be minimized. Three, since it's located in the sea, it's easier to harness since most of the landscape is flat unlike on land where there are terrains and hills, and even high-rise buildings which can reduce the amount of wind.

​​How Wind Energy is Stored

Wind, just like other renewable energy sources, supplies more energy than market demand. The main downside is that there are very few established ways to store wind energy for future use. First, is its unpredictability, especially in areas where wind is not always constant. As such, storage of the electric energy produced from wind will be paramount. This uncertainty, coupled with how it's a lot more powerful during the night than day, are some of the reasons to store power for later use. In areas where wind is constant, however, electric power generated from the turbines can be fed into the power grid directly.

In domestic cases, it's quite easy because there are lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries to store that extra power. These high-density batteries are increasingly getting advanced as the days go, making them easier to manage. Even at industrial level, companies have tried using large scale batteries to store energy, but the effects have not been so favorable. Cases of battery blow ups due to difference in voltage have been experienced. Also, batteries of this magnitude are expensive and hazardous to some extent not to mention they are not environment friendly (especially if they're disposed).

Despite that, there are some methods that industries are using to save large scale power:

1. Compressed Air Energy Storage

This is where excess power is heated and compressed to air to be stored in underground caverns or large tanks above the ground. The compressed air is burnt along with fuel to change it to mechanical energy which will then be used in generators as electrical energy when the demand for power arrives.

2. Hydrogen Fuel Generation

This works by producing hydrogen with excess power in order to burn it by combining with water through a process called electrolysis. This is a smart approach though the greatest drawback, like all the others, is the initial investment needed.

3. Pumped Hydro

This is where water is pumped upwards in order to use it downhill again. The main downside to this is the initial investment to be used and also the fact that it requires a hill or high ground where there's large amounts of wind and also a hydro power plant nearby or large water bodies. Even without water, hills and wind are almost mutually exclusive. Add the two mills needed (hydro and wind) for installation and you'll realize this is an expensive approach. This method is common in hydroelectric dams. While at the moment large scale storage of wind power is not stable, the future is filled with optimism since some companies are currently trying new ways to make it work.

Uses of Wind Energy

​1. Electricity Generation

The wind turbines have rotor blades which convert kinetic energy to mechanical energy through the rotor shaft and then to the generator. The energy is transferred as the rotor spins and the mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy in the generator. It's then transferred to the electrical company substations which step it up to a higher voltage for distribution to homes and institutions.

2. Pumping Water

Traditionally, windmills were used to pump water used for livestock and farming. Even in recent years, people still use them to pump water in communities and countries. The windmills used for pumping water are easier and more efficient than those used for electricity.

The wind propels the rotor blades which in turn move to produce motion or kinetic energy. This motion then facilitates the movement of a rod inside the well or borehole that pulls water into dedicated cylinders until the water is forced up the pipe and is ready to be fetched. Repetition of this process results in free-flowing water.

3. Transportation

Wind power has equally been crucial in transportation. Long ago when there were no turbine-powered ships, people used wind power to sail and navigate the sea. The trade winds released energy that propelled the ships and their cargo across oceans. In recent years, modern sailors have seen the benefits of using wind power too. They have installed large kites to act as propellers which save a lot of fuel in the long run.

4. Food Preparation

While in the past windmills were used to process grains like millet, in recent years they can be used to process foods in large scale for example wheat flour. Thanks to electricity and ease of installing several windmills, factories can now manufacture food in bulk in ease.

5. Sports

Several sports are propelled by wind for them to work. Sports like kite and wind surfing, sailing and kite boarding need to be in favor of the wind for you to practice. Some like kite surfing and sailing require stronger winds to enjoy the ultimate experience.

As you have noticed, you can use wind power in different ways. You can even use it to charge appliances in your home from small things like phones and laptops to bigger equipment like your lawnmower. If you have a stronger turbine which produces more power, then you can even use it for bigger things. Like solar, it's best to own a battery to store your energy for times when the wind speeds will be low.

Impacts of Wind Power to The Environment

Wind power is a clean renewable energy without effects associated with greenhouse gases such as coal. It is sustainable and friendly to environment and the effects associated don't cause any global warming. That said, the wind turbines have some negative impact on the environment.

​1. Bird and Bats Mortality

The first wind turbines that were installed cause a lot of death to birds and bats that flew around. This is because they didn't consider the rotating blades could have any negative impact to the birds. The modern wind turbines though, have put that into consideration and have predatory sensors installed to prevent the birds from getting close to them. While there are no estimated figures, it's presumed that those deaths are less than those caused by humans either by hunting and shooting.

​2. Change of Landscape 

Some people find lands with wind turbines to be beautiful while others find them another negative impact on the environment. They only see machines that are ruining the natural landscape. Turbines, especially in historical and tourist places, can be an eye sore since they're disrupting the normal view of the place. Since most wind farms are private, the places have even been set as tourist hotspots where you're taken a guided tour around. You can even find it's a camping and hiking venue where you'll enjoy some of your favorite activities. Turbines which are made of the same height and length and are aligned may have a more beautiful landscape than those which are placed spontaneously.

​3. Noise Pollution. ​​​​

It's estimated that a turbine in a 300m range will produce about 45dB which is slightly higher than the noise of a refrigerator. This means that if you're in a place closer to wind turbines, you'll be affected than someone who's 1.5km from a wind farm since at that distance the noise is barely audible. Some people reported to experience negative health effects that were caused by the turbine noise.

Engineers handled that and designed modern wind turbines to ensure that there's almost no noise made by turbines despite being close to your residence. They have sensors that measure the speed of wind so as to increase or decrease accordingly without necessarily producing a lot of noise.

4. Shadow Flicker and Reflection

This is when you're walking down the road then around you there are turbine blades rotating thereby affecting your eyes. The reflection, on the other hand, is when the blades reflect under the sun causes them to shine brightly and momentarily blind you. The changes in light intensity caused by the turbines is a bother to some people especially when the sun is too bright, and the blades are rotating fast. However, engineers easily solved this problem by choosing a better finish for turbine edges.

5. Loss of Habitat for Some Species

Since large amounts of land need to be cleared for those wind farms to be created, the previously existing animals are forced to move to a safer place. The displacement of these animals could make them highly exposed to their predators. On the flip side, the land used by wind farms could be used for other activities as well. Since over 90% is never used, it could be maximized for agriculture, for animal grazing or even just left as an open space.

6. Negative Effects for Air Traffic Control 

When the farms are set up near army bases the turbines can have negative impact since they may lose control over an aircraft due to loss of signal near the farm. This means that the wind farms have limits as to where they can be built to avoid overlap with other institutions.

Final Thoughts

While the negative impacts may make it seem like wind is not a great renewable energy, it helps to know that these are not effects of wind energy. These are the effects of the turbines which propel the wind. If technology is right, these effects are manageable and with time will improve. Some of them have already been corrected which makes us hopeful that the current problems facing the turbines will be non-existent in a few years.

Also, wind is an energy that can easily be substituted with other types of energy. For example, you may find that in your area it's sunny in some seasons and other seasons the wind is high. You can install both solar and wind systems to tap both of them when they're in high production.  This is great for the person who wishes to install the two types for maximum power harnessing.

Solar Energy

Residential solar energy has certainly not been a new thing, but it's not until recent years that most people started taking note of its advantages. The reasons have been varied ranging from wanting to reduce the carbon footprint in the environment and going the natural way with less pollution to reducing their electricity bills, which most people choose as the best. In some places, you're able to save as much as $300 per month in electricity bills which is quite a large amount over the long haul. If you're an aspiring solar energy homeowner and would like to know more before committing, below are some pointers to guide you.

How ​Solar Energy Works

For starters, it is worth mentioning that solar energy can be harnessed in two different ways. These could be the extraction of thermal energy which aids in processes such as cooking and water heating or it could be in electricity production. For the thermal energy, solar radiation is the key element whereas for electric energy production, light is of greater interest. Solar panels work by allowing particles of light from the sun called photons to knock off electrons from atoms which in turn generate an electric flow. Deep within solar panels are smaller units commonly called photovoltaic cells usually made of silicon. All these are linked up together such that with more exposure to the sun, more electric current can be generated from the solar panel which is then stored in a battery for later use. In home settings, inverters are used to convert the stored energy from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) which is what we normally use.

How ​Solar Energy Used Around Us

There are many ways you can use solar energy at home.

  • ​Powering Home Devices: The small devices at home that are presumed to consume almost no electricity do use a lot of it. Those phones, torches, power banks and even batteries can be charged using solar energy. However, solar energy could also power bigger things like your refrigerator. It all depends on how much energy you need at home.
  • ​Outdoor and Street Lighting: There are high chances that your street lights are powered by some form of renewable energy such as solar energy. In less urban areas, for example, it is far convenient to have street lights powered by solar energy directly. At home, people also use solar energy for powering outdoor electrical equipment such as security lights and even the electric fences.
  • ​Heating Water: Everyone cherishes a bath of warm water. When you have a large family, your electricity bill can skyrocket, especially if you are not relying on solar water heating and you have teenagers who cherish a long hot bath. With solar energy that bill becomes manageable, or even nonexistent, and your family continue to enjoy a good bath.
  • ​Solar Cooking: There are some solar cookers in the market which you can use to prepare your meals with. These cookers cook can be pretty sluggish as well, so don't be expecting to have your steak ready in the next few minutes. In fact, depending on the type of meal you're preparing, you might need hours to cook your meals properly. This could be ideal for camping events.
  • ​Supercharge Your Electric Car: If you have an electric car, you can always charge it after you're back home. This is very cost effective since the same energy you're using in your house is the same you're charging your car with.

​PROS

  • ​​Sustainable and Renewable
  • ​Low Maintenance
  • ​No Noise Pollution
  • Environment Friendly
  • Affordable
  • Cost Efficient in the Long-Term

​CONS

  • ​Requires Large Physical Space
  • ​​Energy Storage Is Expensive
  • ​​Cost of Installation is Expensive
  • ​Not Easily Installable by Everyone

How Many Panels Do You Need for Your House?

The cost of installing always varies from one person to another. This is because of different factors like the size of a house, the types of panels you want to use, how much energy you use in your household among other things. Things like the installation company you choose will also affect the total cost. Let's look at these factors in detail and what they really mean

1. Your Roof's Usable Surface Area

The shape and size of your house will determine how much you pay for set up. For example, a house with a flat roof which can accommodate large panels easily may require less tinier panels which leads to a cheaper cost. Equally, a house with a small usable area; either due to the shape of the roof or other factors, may require smaller panels which will translate to a more expensive cost since it'll require more of them.

2. How Much Energy

A house that uses 300KWh per month and a house that uses 1000KWh per month will be billed according to their energy usage. The amount of energy you use will be calculated for you during installation. On the other hand, you too can get an idea of how much energy you require with a simple calculation. Just take your electrical bills for at least the past 12 months and add all of them to get the total amount of electricity you use in a year. Divide this sum by 12 to know what's the average you spend in a month. You can go even further, by dividing the figure you get from above by 30 to get your daily average.

For example, if your annual energy is 4800KWh, you'll divide this by 12 to know how much you spend in a month. Which is 400KWh per month. To calculate how much energy you use in a day, you'll divide the 400KWh by 30 days and find out that your average usage per day is 13.3 KWh (Kilowatts per hour).

3. Weather in Your Area

If you live in a cloudy region, then there won't be a lot of sunlight hitting your solar panels. This would require you to have more panels to increase the surface area needed to harness the amount of power you need for your use.

4. Types of Panels You Use

Solar panels are made differently, and that means you would have to choose one that best suits your needs. If you're installing per square foot, the basic expected wattage is 2 Watts for every square foot. This means that a house of 1500 square feet will need about 3000 Watts. Depending on the type of panel used, this may equal 12-18 panels and translate to an average of 16 panels for the house. The price per watt is averagely $5.47. So, for a 1500sq foot roof, we would be looking at $16,400. Of course, this is a very subjective figure depending on the type of panels you use and even the company you hire. Some companies charge as much as $4,000 more. So before buying, compare the rates between installers in your area. It's best to remember that the company that can pay most for advertising doesn't necessarily mean it's the best.

Can You Install Your Own Panels?

It's understandable to ask this question considering that the price from accredited installers can seem high. If you have an experienced person who's skilled enough, he/she can help you with the sizing calculations, planning, and even installation. He/she could even design for you how you want to install the panels depending on the size of your roof. However, you are still encouraged to contact an accredited solar installer for wiring and metering of your energy consumption.

Conclusion

It's necessary to make a thorough analysis as before setting up your home solar system. When you're choosing a manufacturer, inquire whether they offer replacement for batteries and bulbs. This can go a long way because if you're committing to a long-term plan, you want to know how you'll relate with them sometime down the road. If they don't offer replacement, check your options should you choose to proceed with them. Also, it's necessary to check your home's location and landscaping.

Homes in smooth terrains which are not covered by shade or affected by weather will generate more power than homes which are covered by shade. Solar energy is ideal in places that experience lots of sunny weather. This means that places which experience the occasional sunlight or extreme weather changes may need alternate options.

Hydroelectric Energy

Hydropower is perhaps the most common and widely-used source of renewable power. Because of this, hydroelectric power has been known for more than 2000 years. During that time, ancient Greeks would use water wheels to grind grains to flour – a practice that the Chinese dynasty of 150AD did as well. Though rudimentary, it paved way for the first conception of the movement of turbines thanks to the kinetic energy present in free-flowing water.

Centuries later there was no innovation in hydro power until about the 1750s when French engineer Bernard Forest de'Belidor wrote a book about hydro (L'Architecture Hydraulic), but most people still fancied using mechanical hydropower for milling and pumping. However, in 1832, Michael Faraday took it upon himself to conceptualize the modern-day hydroelectric power. It took more than 50 years for his invention to come to fruition. It took 46 years for William George Armstrong from Northumberland, England to take up Faraday's work and use hydroelectric power to light up his art gallery with the help of a single lamp.

After that successful project, countries begun constructing dams to produce large scale electricity to power the ever-increasing factories. In 1882, the first hydroelectric power station was constructed in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. The station produced 12.5KW. In the next 2-3 years there were about 45 stations in USA and Canada and 7 years later (1889) the stations increased to more than 200 in US alone.

Most countries continued to construct stations because of increasing demand, and in 1905 China constructed a 500KW power plant. The Hoover Hydroelectric Dam in Colorado was built in 1936 producing 1,346MW which at that time had the highest capacity. The production was increased to 2,080 MW later on but was surpassed by the Grand Coulee Hyrdoelectric Dam in 1942 which had a capacity of 6,809MW.

During these years more hydroelectric stations were set up around the world and in 1984 the largest dam in the world, Itaipu, was constructed in Brazil with a power capacity of 14,000MW. In 2008, China built the Three Gorges Dam which has a capacity of 22,500MW making it the largest hydroelectric dam in the world in terms of energy capacity.

With the figures mentioned above, it is easy to see why hydroelectric power is the most widely used renewable energy. China has the largest hydroelectric production with almost half of all world power coming from the Asian country. Some countries such as Paraguay and Brazil heavily rely on hydroelectric power such that 85% of their electricity is powered by the dams. In the US, 17% of its electricity is powered by hydro energy which also covers 70% of their renewable energy.

How ​Hydroelectric Energy Is Generated

Since it relies on the kinetic energy of moving water, hydro power stations are constructed along large water bodies like falls, rivers and lakes. A dam is constructed on one side to raise the level of water then it's blocked by a gate to prevent it from rising over the top. Down below, a small entrance is created through the dam so that the water passes through it in high pressure.

A turbine is installed at this point so that as the water passes through it moves the turbines which are connected to a generator which turns the hydro energy to electrical energy. The electrical energy is then ready to be transmitted to substations and finally to our homes as electricity. Back at the dam, after the water passes through the turbines, it simply goes back to the river and flows as usual.

Reasons for Fast Growth of Hydroelectric Power

1. Demand from Rising Economies

Rising economies are heavily investing in construction projects, and despite the huge sums they keep pouring for the development of their countries, they also require cheap and reliable sources of energy. Hydroelectric power gives them just that. Even though initial costs may be high, it is usually worth the effort because such projects are usually long-term and their return on investments will bring positive results in their countries. This is true because hydropower is cheaper than the oil and gas and the because it is readily available. These are just some of the reasons why most countries go the hydroelectric power way.

2. Support from World Bank and International Funding Institutions

Since most high-profile investors are also vying for green energy production, top banks and institutions have been lending money for the development of hydroelectric power making most projects to pick up pace. More than $2 billion has been spent on such projects to ensure the projects are fully funded. This has ensured most projects, especially those that had stagnated to pick up and be completed thereby producing power and promoting the economies of those countries.

3. Multilateral Goals and Agreements

There have been several international summits and conferences to create awareness about hydroelectric energy. In these meetings, the benefits and disadvantages of hydropower have always been highlighted in contrast to other sources of energy such as nuclear energy. Since the pros surpass the cons, the agreements have concluded that hydropower is worth the shot. Some of the notable reasons highlighted include the fact that it is renewable, cheap, and widely accepted.

This means that it will never get depleted and has very little carbon emissions on top of being sustainable. It's also easier to construct compared to others like geothermal. In addition, since it is used in most countries all over the world, it is also widely accepted unlike other sources of energy such as nuclear energy which will be met with skepticism especially since disasters such as the Chernobyl accident could always happen again.

4. Trade from Developing Countries

When countries agree to trade, there is an increase in business activities which leads to increased demand for electricity especially in the manufacturing sector. The need to supply the growing industries with power has enabled them to turn to hydroelectric power as an environment-friendly source of electricity. Some countries request for international funding and others choose to build from their own pockets. Regardless, such trades are the driving factors for the increasing hydro power stations around the world.

The Future Outlook

For the most part, there's a lot of positive outlook due to untapped potential in most countries. Reports show that 71% of Europe has not yet tapped its hydroelectric power while in North America and South America, these figures stand at 75% and 79% respectively. Asia-Pacific region follows next with 82% and 95% of untapped power in both Africa and Middle East. That amounts to an average of 83% of global hydroelectric power which remains untapped. From this it's safe to say that even 60% of the energy is enough to power the whole world.

Despite this though, some countries have little growth due to having utilized a lot of their energy reserves already. A country such as Switzerland has already tapped 88% and Mexico follows with 80%. Other countries which use hydroelectric in large amounts include Norway, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Paraguay and Brazil. These countries rely on hydropower for up to 85% for their electricity.

Currently, hydroelectric power supplies almost 20% of the world's electricity needs and accounts for 70% of all renewable energy sources. North America and Europe are projected to have a slower rate than other parts of the world in future generation of hydro power. This is mainly because they have utilized more than the rest of the world. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that by 2050 the world will be able to produce 15,000 Terawatts per hour (TWh) if current production is tripled.

Asia is poised to experience the highest growth in future with countries such as China, Brazil and India being on the leaderboard. Some countries in South East Asia are also experiencing substantial development. These countries include Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia which is the 6th largest global producer of hydroelectric energy. Indonesia has a potential to supply 0.39 million Gigawatts per hour (GWh) annually.

China produces highest amount of hydropower but utilizes 41% of its reserves. It has a capacity to produce 1.3 million GWh annually and India which is the second largest at 21% has reserves capable to produce 0.5 million GWh annually. Russia, on the other hand, has the highest power potential in the world and only utilizes 10% of its 1.5 million GWh annual potential. Sadly, Africa is projected to experience a slow growth in hydro power generation and the larger source of its electricity will still come from oil and natural gas in coming years.

Challenges Facing Hydroelectric Power Generation

It is apparent that hydro energy is important in many societies around the world, and it carries a lot of benefits with it. A good example is the Three Gorges Dam in Yangtze river, Hubei province in China. The power plant stretches over a 2.4Km piece of land and produces 84.7 TWh annually, but it was initially created to control floods that destroyed property worth $24 billion.

The production of electricity was thus a bonus point in addition to favorably changing the climate of the region. However, the Chinese dam wasn’t without problems. Millions of people had to relocate and lots of properties destroyed. Other challenges that hydroelectric stations face (and affect future growth) include:

1. Potential Shortage in Technical Skills

So many power plants are being developed all over the world. Places like SE Asia which are constructing many at a go are experiencing shortage of skilled people to work with while the demand for more stations is increasing.

2. Long Decision-Making Is Needed to Receive Permission

There are a lot of regulatory bodies and authorities that determine how the power plants will be constructed. Getting that permission to build takes a lot of time since it's not until a firm gets access that it can move along and build a power plant.

3. Expensive to Install and High Risk

There are uncertainties in building a hydroelectric station and for these large-scale projects the cost is too daunting since most of the costs are upfront. After it's built the cost of operation and maintenance is decreased. The high risks associated are due to the fact the return investments are not clearly outlined until after construction which makes investors wary.

4. Lack of Investment

This is another challenge that firms wishing to build power plants have to face and one that affects the future of hydro. Some regions, especially in Africa, have low receptivity to investors which hinders the growth of this renewable source. Other ways this happens is when funds run low mid-level and no investors are willing to pitch in.

5. Difficulty to Manage Social and Environmental Effects

A case like the millions of people who were displaced in China when Three Gorges Dam was being constructed is among the many challenges that faces regions around dams. People will be forced to relocate, and the nearby forests will have to be cut down to create space for construction.  Also, the fact that animals get displaced from their habitat is something environmentalists have questioned. Equally, there is also the risk of floods which can come about when a dam gives in.

6. Potential Impact of Climate Change

Different regions face climatic issues in different ways. For example, despite having the highest power production, the Three Gorges Dam is sometimes outperformed by the Itaipu dam between Brazil and Paraguay. This is because there are some seasons where the lower water levels result in a low power output whereas Itaipu boasts a constant water supply. Drought and unclean water are other issues faced by residents near hydroelectric power plants and they threaten the future growth of hydro energy.

The issues outlined above can be solved by proper planning and with improved innovations. With the highly positive outlook in most regions in the world, then it's no doubt that these issues will have to be solved before moving forward. But despite the challenges, hydroelectric energy is projected to grow by 3-4% yearly till year 2050. This is a sign that the benefits of the energy far surpass the challenges facing geothermal energy, and that is why hydropower continues to dominate as the most preferred renewable source of energy.

Top 5 Windmill Generator Kits in 2020

With all the technological advancements that the world is experiencing, we have become dependent on every little thing that brings us comfort and convenience. Obviously, we can no longer live without electricity.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of the total electric power supply in the US is generated from petroleum. It took millions of years before these petroleum sources came to be. Oil is a non-renewable source of energy and endless explorations is a sign that petroleum sources might not be enough for the demand in the near future. Good thing, we can generate electricity by harnessing the power of renewable energy sources - one of which is wind.

Wind energy has been used by ancient Egyptians for sailing, Chinese and Dutch for agriculture and Americans started using windmills for electricity since the 1800s. Technology helped us make this energy source accessible that we can install windmill generator kits in our homes. That guarantees years of savings on electricity costs and saving the environment too. We’ve shortlisted the best turbine kits to help you get started.

Best Wind Turbine Kits for Your Home

1. Windmill 400W 12V Wind Turbine Generator Kit  

This DIY wind turbine kit offers an easy-to-install package at an affordable price. It is made with weather-resistant material Polypropylene and Glass Fiber. That makes Windmill Wind Turbine a choice for land and marine application.

This home wind turbine was also made in consideration of possible wind surges and voltage surge. It is equipped with an integrated automatic braking system and manual braking switch that will prevent overcharging of the battery.

It has a low cut-in wind speed that will allow the turbines to rotate even at a minimum wind speed of 6.7mph. This means that your turbines can still generate electricity even when the wind speed is low or inconsistent. This is also compatible with solar panel systems and can be easily connected as an alternate energy source.

What’s in the Box?

  • ​Center piece and tail with the generator
  • ​Built-in Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)
  • ​Triple blade turbine
  • ​Manual Brake Switch
  • ​Voltmeter Display Box
  • ​Bolts, Nuts and Hex Key
  • ​Operation Manual

PROS

  • Protection from a sudden wind gust
  • Surge protection
  • Weather-resistant
  • 1-year warranty

CONS

  • No mounting pole included
  • Cut-in wind speed must be between 12-14mph

Bottom line:

If you are looking for an entry-level residential wind turbine that is easy to set up, protect your battery from power surges and has its automatic brake system against sudden wind gust, this wind generator kit should be your top consideration. However, manage your expectations especially on its minimum cut-in wind speed. Unfortunately, it starts working at 12-14mph and not as advertised at 6.7mph.

Missouri Freedom II is a wind turbine on a mission to harness wind energy even from the lowest wind speed. This all-metal wind turbine is hot dipped galvanized and will not need any rust-proofing. Its hub is also zinc plated. The blades are also made with Raptor Generation carbon fiber and the whole system can last you up to 50 years of regular use.

An 11-blade turbine might sound unusual for a wind generator, but it works well on the Missouri Freedom II. The slim blades seem to be the secret for the turbine to run even on a low wind speed of 6mph – a video footage on Youtube actually shows an anemometer measuring this. An actual test of the turbine’s output shows it can generate approximately 1000 watts with 30mph wind speed. The maximum output of this wind generator is 2000 watts.

In 2018, an improved version of the Freedom II Permanent Magnet Generator (PMG) came out. It is designed with a self-tightening cam-lock washer that prevents the blades from spinning on the shaft. The Missouri Freedom II 2000-Watt Wind Turbine is built to charge 12, 24 and 48 battery banks, depending on the variant you are purchasing.

What’s in the Box?

  • ​11-blade turbine
  • ​Freedom PMG Rotor
  • ​Turbine Tail
  • ​Mounting Bracket
  • ​Hub-spacer
  • ​Bolts, Nuts and Hex Key
  • ​Operation Manual

PROS

  • Works even on low wind speed (6MPH)
  • Durable blade turbines
  • Newly-improved product

CONS

  • No mounting pole included
  • Warranty coverage is not specified
  • Vibration and noise problems

Bottom line:

From the most robust winds of 125mph and the lowest speeds of 6mph, Freedom II is committed to free you from high electricity costs. The product manufacturer, with its new improvements for the 2018 release learned from the Freedom’s previous flaws. Incorporating a self-tightening cam lock washer will assure the buyers that earlier problems with the blades damaging the shaft will never happen again.

A good wind turbine generator should not be too heavy that it might topple nor too light that it feels flimsy. That’s precisely how Ista Breeze i-2000 was designed. Its metal body housing is made with aluminum and rotor blades are made glass fiber reinforced plastic that makes it durable yet light. The whole unit only weighs 25kgs.

The Ista Breeze i-2000 can easily generate 2000 watts of electricity at 12-14mph wind speed. It is also surprisingly quiet at 40dB despite its power and can run on low, medium and high wind speeds. If you are one of those who are worried about twisting cables, when using a wind turbine, this product assures the users it won’t happen. The power transmission goes through a slip ring that prevents wire problems.

This wind turbine has a maximized efficiency as it rotates to the direction of the wind to generate more power. Despite these capabilities, this wind generator is designed to be low maintenance.

What’s in the Box?

  • ​3-blade turbine
  • ​Turbine Tail
  • ​Operation Manual

PROS

  • Low noise
  • Low maintenance
  • 2-year warranty

CONS

  • No mounting pole included
  • Some users still find the turbine too heavy
  • Unspecified minimum cut-in speed

Bottom line:

The Ista Breeze i-2000 is on the mid-range price point compared to the wind generator kits available in the market. The aesthetic appeal of this product also makes it appealing. Like any other wind turbines for home, it is essential to know the minimum cut-in speed of the equipment for it to work in your area efficiently.

Tumo-Int is a manufacturer of a wide range of wind turbines for home and industrial use. They offer a variety of products from 400W to 5000W energy production yield. The 1000w model was designed to work even on the lowest wind speeds with a startup of 5.6mph.

The triple blade turbine is durably made using Nylon Fiberglass material that can withstand wind speeds of up to 90mph. It also self-adjusts to the direction of the wind to capture maximum output possible. Another set of positives for this product is that it’s low-noise, low-vibration and low-maintenance.

Tumo-Int 1000w is paired with a Maximum Power Point Tracking Controller. This enables the users to remotely detect and control the generated voltage of the wind turbine.

What’s in the Box?

  • ​3-blade turbine
  • ​Controller
  • ​Nose Cone
  • ​Bolts and Screws
  • ​Operation Manual

PROS

  • Controller is included
  • Low cut-in speed requirement
  • Low noise
  • Low maintenance
  • 1-year warranty

CONS

  • No mounting pole included

Bottom line:

If you are in the lookout for a wind generator kit that will provide you the power to remotely view control its efficiency without too many accessories to set up, this product is the right one for you. Likewise, this is very easy to install and with the correct pole height, locations and cable connections, users can surely maximize the efficiency of the Tumo-Int 1000w.

Renewable energy sources like solar and wind can be seasonal and time-bound and there is no perfect way to maximize both than to go hybrid. Solar power can be harnessed during day time and summer while the wind blows at its highest speed at night and during rainy and winter seasons. GOW Wind Generator aims to be easily used together with a solar power setup.

This wind generator has a 3-blade and a 5-blade variant. The blades are built with carbon reinforced plastics. The wind generator's minimum cut-in speed is at 3.5mph which is really impressive. The maximum wind speed, however, is a low down at 45mph. GOWE 500w is suitable for land and marine use.

It comes with a hybrid controller that features voltage regulation and automatic voltage detection. It also prevents overcharge, deep discharge, wind turbine auto-brake and reverse current protection.

What’s in the Box?

  • ​3-blade or 5-blade Turbine
  • ​Controller
  • ​Bolts and Screws
  • ​Operation Manual

PROS

  • Controller is included
  • Low cut-in speed requirement
  • Land and marine use
  • 1-year warranty

CONS

  • No mounting pole included
  • May not stand strong wind speed beyond 45mph

Bottom line:

A reliable hybrid-ready wind generator is a rare find. GOWE 500w Wind Generator looks really promising despite its low output compared with the earlier products. The capabilities of the controller that comes with it is also a plus factor. The only downside we see is the maximum cut-out speed that the blades can tolerate which may not go over 45mph. 

How Does a Home Wind Generator Kit Work?

A home wind generator is a piece of power-generating equipment that harnesses wind energy. It has a set of blades that rotate according to the wind speed. It usually has a small computer box inside that controls the blades to maximize the generated energy based on wind direction. There are smaller gears inside the box and these gears convert wind to kinetic energy. Energy then passes through a generator which will turn it into electricity.    

Factors to Consider Before Setting Up a Home Wind Turbine

1.    Grid Connection

This is on top of the list because this is the most critical factor to consider. If your electrical connection is grid-connected, you are currently dependent to local power cooperatives or producers all your electrical connections are designed for this type of connection.

Switching to wind energy will require you to go off-grid and you will be solely relying on wind to provide you electricity. But there are other options like a hybrid connection which combines wind and solar energy to produce electricity and generate and store electricity from whichever source is available. Wind is best relied on during rainy season and winter. While solar is there 3 out of 4 seasons of the year.

You may still stay grid-connected while enjoying wind power but this will entail a lot of money for the electrical modifications. You can look forward to making wind energy the primary source of electricity and your grid connection as the secondary one.

Consulting your electric cooperative can help you better assess your decision to switch or combine wind generator kits to your current source. They can also provide you estimates on the rewiring and electrical components necessary. Lastly, they can guide you in applying for tax credits once you decide to pursue using wind turbines.

2.    Wind Velocity and Speed

There are a lot of wind generator kits that can start up on wind speeds as little as 3mph. But let’s be honest, that’s not potent enough to actually fill a battery and support your electricity needs especially if you will solely rely on wind energy.

As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to consistently test the wind speed in your area at least a year before deciding to purchase a wind turbine for your home. You need to make sure that you will constantly have 18mph wind speed to optimize the use of your generator kit.

3.    The height of the Wind Turbine

The height of the mounting pole will affect the consistency of wind that will pass through the wind turbines. Any type of obstruction will affect wind speed and prohibit efficiency. Experts say that the height of the mounting pole should be twice as high as any nearest obstruction like trees, buildings, etc.

4.    Space and Zoning

Another significant consideration is the space that you have in your yard or perimeter. Wind speed varies on every location and if your house is in a vast space, there is a higher chance of you getting as much wind power as you need. It is vital to identify the best part of your property that will be exposed to the strongest wind possible.

However, space is not all there is to consider when deciding where to place your wind turbine. You also have to do your homework checking your Homeowners Association’s rules and regulations on zoning. More importantly, review local laws and that might be prohibiting wind turbine installation in your area.

5.    Noise and Vibration Issues

Although every wind generator kit would promise you that theirs is a “low noise” turbine, it will still boil down to the actual noise when its running and when gusty winds pass through it. Aside from reviewing the decibel rating of these wind turbines, check out some videos of actual running noise and decide if it is something you can live with.

Likewise, there are brands which market their turbines as suitable for roof mounting. But technically speaking, this is not structurally safe for your home. The vibrations these turbines can create can compromise the strength durability of your roof, ceiling and even the walls of your home.

Benefits of Having a Wind Turbine Generator at Home

1.    Save the Environment

You might probably know that 1/3 of the electric consumption in the US and possibly the world is powered by petroleum-derived electricity. Wind energy is instantly available and renewable. It just needs a little work and a little investment for it to be harnessed. But that investment can actually last you for a minimum of 15 years up to 50 years if the components are properly maintained and used under normal conditions.

Shying away from petroleum use can prevent digging oil drilling in land and in the sea that disturbs the natural habitat of animals and pollutes the sea and the air. Using wind turbines will not require gas or coal and will not be harmful to the environment.

2.    Save on Electricity Cost

You must be wondering if the investment for a wind generator kit and its installation would actually be worth it when you sum up all the savings that the manufacturers promise you. Your local electric cooperative will be able to help you with this comparison. Switching will not only let you save on electricity cost for a year or so. This will go on as long as your wind turbine stands and rotates.

3.   Enjoy Tax Credits

Aside from savings on electricity cost, another benefit of switching to wind turbines is the tax credit you can enjoy for using an alternative source of energy. Same perks apply to those who use solar. As for the computation of tax credits, your local tax office can provide you with the tax bracket depending on your dependence on an alternative source of electricity.

Final thoughts:

No doubt turning in to wind energy can be most beneficial for the consumers considering the savings on electricity and the tax credits you can enjoy from it. The decision to entirely or partially switch will rely on the factors that we have presented like the wind speed, zoning restrictions and the type of connection that you have. It will take a lot of research and comparison, but we are hoping that this article was able to help you jumpstart that decision-making process by presenting the best windmill generator kits and how each one can make choosing wind power a breeze!

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