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Wind Generator versus Solar Panels - Which is Better?
"Going green" is in the minds of many people these days.
Because we consume energy in huge quantities, it only makes sense
to look for alternative ways to generate energy.
Wind generator versus
solar panels is a common comparison: both forms of energy utilitize
natural, renewal energy sources, respectively from the wind and from
Solar panels are comprised of solar cells,
which convert sunlight into energy we can use for solar
home heating, solar water heating,
and other uses. You may have seen residential homes covered with
solar roof tiles to capture
the sun's rays.
On the other hand, wind generators use wind to generate electricity.
A wind turbine converts the wind's energy into mechanical power,
which in turn is converted into electricity via a generator. Basically,
the wind spins the blades of the turbine, rotating the shaft. This shaft
connects to a generator which converts the energy into electricity.
You may have seen "wind farms" from a distance - the many
huge wind turbines grouped together is quite a sight. People have
remarked that the turbines look like large, sharp, metallic
Interestingly, wind power is a form of solar power, too. Wind is
created when the earth's surface is unevenly heated by the sun. Some
parts of the world (eg. the equator) get more sun than others, and
some types of land (forests, sand, water, mountains, etc...) absorb
more sun than others. Warmer air rises, causing the cooler air nearby
to flow in to fill in the "gaps". This is what results in
Both wind power and solar power have
advantages and disadvantages.
- Cost: Neither solar power nor wind power are cheap. A large
array of solar panels is usually necessary to power a residential home
(the number of panels required varies depending on your location and
energy needs), adding to the cost. In both cases, expect an investment
of several thousands of dollars if you want to power your entire home
-- more likely somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000.
If you only need a small amount of power, then solar panels would
- Efficiency: obviously, solar panels need maximum sunlight
to generate the most amount of energy. Likewise, wind turbines need
to be in a windy location in order to generate a lot of electricity.
If you're in a location where you get a lot of sun -- free from
strong winds, which can kick up dust and debris -- solar power might
be the way to go, especially if you don't have a lot of other objects
that shade the panels from the sun. If your location is particularly
windy, with typically strong, consistent winds, a wind turbine may be
more effective for you.
- Suitability for residential homes: solar panels can be
installed nearly anywhere, provided there's enough sunlight.
Residential wind turbines, however, can be quite large and aren't
suitable for the city or for small lots.
Wind turbines can also only operate where you get sufficient
wind. It's not too hard to find a sunny spot around a home to
install solar panels. However, you can't generate wind! Wind
turbines are sensitive to wind speed. Speeds that are too low
will result in no power being generated from the turbine.
- Maintenance: small, residential wind turbines don't
need regular maintenance since they don't have many moving parts.
Solar panels, on the other hand, do require regular cleaning to
keep them operating at their most efficient. Dirt, dust, leaves,
bird droppings, and other debris must be removed from the panels.
- How does it look? Some people simply have a preference
for solar panels or wind turbines. With solar panels, they're often
installed on the roofs of homes. Some people don't mind the way they
look -- may even love the way they look! -- while others find it
unattractive. The same goes for wind turbines: some people would
find the large turbine and the tower objectionable; others don't
mind. It all comes down to personal preference.
On the question of whether wind generator versus solar panels
is better -- it just depends on your location, usage, and preferences.
Both forms of power are clean and renewable, both excellent
environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional energy