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Which is best for NZ homes: Solar power vs. wind energy

Renewable energy is exciting, but all the buzz can be a lot for a homeowner to take in. It’s often confusing to know what type of ‘green’ energy will suit you best. 

This is especially true if you’re consumed with high monthly utility bills. You want a sustainable power setup that you know will add value to your home. By choosing to produce much of your own power, you’ll be a lot freer from the quirks and costs of the electricity grid.

This blog will cover two popular forms of eco-friendly energy: solar power and wind energy. We’ll compare how they stack up against each other in several categories, so you can see which is best. 

Effectiveness and reliability 

When comparing the effectiveness of solar and wind power, it helps to understand how each type of energy is produced. 

With a wind turbine, several blades spin when the wind blows through them. This turns a shaft connected to a generator, which outputs usable electricity. On the other hand, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels have cells that directly receive sunlight and convert it to direct current (DC). An inverter then turns this into alternating current (AC) electricity for home use.

Both methods work, but solar is typically more reliable in the long run. For one, wind turbines having moving parts that can break down, and unless you’re in a reasonably windy, unobstructed area (such as rural plains), you may not see a huge benefit. Without enough wind, a turbine may not even activate to produce power.

Solar, on the other hand, works much more consistently for the average homeowner. The sun is a never-ending energy source, powering your home day after day. Solar panels are made to withstand rough weather, and they are still productive on rainy or cloudy days. 

Also, solar PV technology pairs perfectly with rooftop panels, allowing you to harness even more of the sun’s free energy for your heating and hot water needs. 

The winner: Solar. Every single day, the right solar system will be ready to take in enough sunlight to power your home.

Ease of use and accessibility

Once a wind turbine or a solar array is installed, they don’t immediately require homeowners to manipulate them in any way. However, over time, clear differences can arise in terms of overall ease of use.

In order to efficiently power a home, wind turbines must be tall enough to avoid anything that can obstruct the wind. If anything goes wrong with the turbine, because of worn-out moving parts or other issues, homeowners will have to call in the experts. 

Solar panels are mostly a ‘set and forget’ solution. They simply remain attached to your rooftop or mounted to the ground. Little special maintenance is necessary, except for inspecting and cleaning the panels once or twice yearly to keep sunlight intake at a maximum. Typical warranties for solar are 20+ years, ensuring continued service in the unlikely event of problems. 

The winner: Solar. Solar panels require very little attention from the homeowner, making the experience easy and stress-free after installation.

Cost and ROI

Whether you go with wind or solar energy, you’re making a major upfront outlay. But an important question is: Which option is more financially practical in the long run?

If your wind turbine fails to perform consistently (due to changes in local wind patterns or other issues) you might not produce enough energy to see big monthly power savings. Solar, however, can start saving you money on your bills from the day the system is up and running. 

For a personalised estimate of your savings with solar, check out the free, easy to use World Solar Calculator.

Solar may even increase your home’s value. For environmentally-conscious buyers that are willing to pay more, solar is a possible point of difference between your home and similar ones on the market, should you ever sell. 

The winner: Solar. While both wind and solar allow homeowners to become producers of energy, solar has a clear track record of immediate monthly utility savings and long-term ROI for homeowners.

Among residential options for sustainable energy, there’s a clear choice.

In just about every way, solar energy proves to be a more reliable, easy to use, cost-effective and practical than wind turbines for homeowners. In New Zealand, solar is the leading renewable power source for homeowners — and with all its benefits, will likely remain so for a long time to come. 

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