Solar Power vs Wind Power

Icon Solar gets a lot of people thinking that they’re better off with wind power because it would run when the sun’s not up or out. Sure, it’s effective and has benefits, but it has more downfalls out here in lower Indiana, Ohio, and northern Kentucky than solar power does.


In Short

Compared to wind power, solar power…

  • Has no moving parts
  • Has better reliability and warranties
  • Is less susceptible to weather damage
  • Requires less and easier monitoring
  • Does not require expensive maintenance
  • Provides more predictable energy output based on scientific data
  • Better value for money in sites with average wind speeds less than 5 meters per second (which is Icon Solar’s area)
  • Is less conspicuous than a wind turbine
  • Is totally silent in operation
  • Allows for quicker installation
  • Usually requires less space

Types of Wind Turbines

Like solar, there are utility-scale turbines used to power utilities’ distribution through the grid. The group of these turbines together is often called “wind farms.” These large wind turbines are from 100 kilowatts to a few megawatts and about 250 feet tall. Distributed, or small, wind are used to power homes. These are below 100 kilowatts and sometimes are not even connected to the grid. The largest of the types are offshore wind turbines and generate the most power.

Taking the Turbine Apart

The turbines are primarily comprised of three blades and a nacelle, where the shaft, gearbox, generator, and controls rest. The insides measure the wind’s direction and pressure, adjusting the blades to rotate and face the strongest winds for optimal energy production. The turbines are “highly evolved machines with more than 8,000 parts that harness wind’s kinetic energy and convert it into electricity,” according to the American Wind Energy Association. That’s a lot of parts that could break.

In fact, the Lordstown Village Council sold their wind turbines because the two turbines haven’t worked for two years, and they were too costly to repair. When is the last time you drive by a wind farm and saw every single one working? You probably haven’t! Stationary solar systems have no moving parts and are less likely to break down. While solar has no sound at all, wind turbines have been known to be loud on occasion. Lordstown, Ohio, mayor Arno Hill describes it: “We have concerns about the blades spinning in the high wind. It sounds like a helicopter is landing,” he told The Vindicator. However, many report that there is little to no sound. It just might be on the brand, model, and maintenance.

Offsetting Electric Bills

The Lordstown system was supposed to produce 10 kilowatts per hour each. This was supposed to offset their bill by $300 to $500 per month. However, Lordstown only ended up saving about $550 dollars per year. Our customers continue to prove that solar savings are real and match Icon Solar’s projections.

“Another common measure of wind energy production is called capacity factor. This measures the amount of electricity a wind turbine produces in a given time period (typically a year) relative to its maximum potential.” Most wind farms have a 40 percent capacity factor. A solar panel’s capacity is far greater than that of a residential-sized wind turbine.

In a flat terrain without vegetation like the farmlands of northern Indiana, wind turbines would do fine. Here, solar will do well if not blocked completely by trees. Wind turbines, however, must be at least 30 feet above anything within 500 feet, or 30 feet above the treeline. The fact is, wind turbines need a lot of space, and solar can be installed on your rooftop. Almost all of Icon Solar’s range, according to the NREL, is an average around 4-5 mps (meters per second), or 8.9-11.2 mph. To get the same as solar, you’d need 23 mph sustained wind.

Like always, Icon Solar promises to always look for what gives you the most financial benefit. You can request a quote from us by calling 513-396-7777 or submitting a request form.

Like Lighthouses: Companies Going Solar

Many companies have been in the news lately for their dedication to adopting sustainable practices. Much like microbreweries, large national and international companies are investing in their own future—and our own future—by installing solar systems. Like lighthouses, they’re beacons lighting the way into a cleaner, brighter future.

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Dear Wanda: I’m about to build a house. Is that a good time to install solar?

Dear Wanda

Dear Wanda,

I’m about to build a house. Is that a good time to install solar?

Sincerely,
Worried About Cost of Build

Dear Worried About Cost of Build,

That’s a great question!

The best time to install solar is when you’re building because you won’t be retrofitting your home for solar. If you know you’re going to have a renewable energy home, it’s best to design the house with solar in mind.

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How to Conserve Energy During Summer

Defeat the Heat

Even if you’ve gone solar, it’s a good idea to be aware of your electric usage, especially as more objects turn to advanced technology. As your usage skyrockets during these extremely hot summers, now’s the perfect time to start cutting back, even if you have a solar system! Let’s take a look at the ways in which you can reduce your electric bill or your electric usage.

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Solar Panels from Sea to Shining Sea

We may not know all the services our government provides for us (The United States Board on Geographic Names – who knew?!), but one thing that you’ll notice with a sharp eye is that a lot of our government buildings are run on solar power. This is especially interesting because government often sets the tone for the future. Our government’s interest in solar energy displays the value of this energy source and saves citizens money.

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The Steps You Should Take to Get the Most Out of Your Panels this Winter!

Solar panels thrive in the sunlight, so this begs the questions: How do solar panels perform in colder months? Thankfully, solar panels only require sunlight, not heat. This means that solar panels are absolutely capable of powering your home during the winter. In fact, some solar panel users have reported higher solar panel output when there is snow since it can act as a reflective blanket for sunlight. 

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