Adding solar panels to your home may be a great way to reduce long-term energy costs while lightening your carbon footprint. Due to a variety of circumstances, however, you may have to investigate more creative solar panel placement options instead of decking out your rooftop.
If your house faces a direction that doesn’t get much sun, you don’t have the option of picking it up and moving it. Take a look at the following ideas, any of which may be the right spot to incorporate solar.
Why would you want to put solar panels in the garden? It’s not like they can power the plants. But, there are other garden features that can benefit from solar energy. A water fountain powered by a solar pump draws birds to the garden that can then eat the pests attacking your plants when you’re not looking. Solar lights along garden paths make it easy to navigate the property at night without fear of tripping. You can also add a touch of whimsy to your yard with solar-powered string lights and — wait for it — solar flowers.
These are great ways to add beauty and function to a garden without hiking your electric bill for water pressure and, well, lame outdoor lighting that looks clunky during the day.
Bring creative solar panel placement to the porch — or, more specifically, your patio cover or window awning. A naturally lit patio might be nice for sunbathing, but during a backyard party you may end up with sunburnt guests and slightly melted chocolate chip cookies (then again, you might welcome the latter). Installing a patio awning allows you to provide shade and eliminate the need to power the electric motor with energy from the grid.
Solar umbrellas are also a thing now. Those from SolProX have thin panels along the cable webbing, lights on the inside of the umbrella and even ports to charge your personal devices.
Albeit not the most attractive lawn ornament, solar panels that are placed directly on the ground in your yard have one very big advantage: They’re easy to access for cleaning and maintenance. If you have a large yard and can tuck an array of solar panels out of sight, this may be one of the easiest creative solar panel placement ideas for homeowners.
Garages make for more than just car storage, and even a basic home workshop needs lighting and electricity for power tools and ventilation. If you have a detached garage, barn or tool shed you could spend a day in, consider installing solar panels on its roof. A rooftop solar panel is perfect for outbuildings that aren’t already connected to the grid (and they may not always be).
Here’s a shot out of cannon: Don’t stop the green at overhead lighting. An electric vehicle replaces gas spend with a small bump to your electric bill, but charging it through your garage’s solar panel instead of the grid can bring your transportation costs to nothing but a monthly car payment. And because solar panels can feed into a 120-volt outlet, you may get a full charge in as little as 16 hours.
While a solar-powered car won’t help you limit your energy usage at home, it can definitely reduce your carbon footprint. Solar cars harness their energy from the sun, just like panels, and convert it into electricity that fuels the battery running the car’s motor. Fewer stops at the gas station can get you that $2,500 to $7,500 tax credit and reduce your reliance on fossil fuels in the process.
Curious about your potential savings? A tool funded by the California Solar Initiative compares solar and electric models against their gasoline-powered counterparts, and even takes your commute into account when calculating the savings you may earn from switching to a green automobile.
If you’re interested in solar energy, think outside the box. You don’t necessarily need to put solar panels on the roof, or even on the house itself, when there are so many other creative places that can use the power. Many homeowner’s associations and local ordinances may ban rooftop solar panels (curse them), and although changing regulations take time, try a few of these creative solar panel placement ideas while you wait.