Using solar power for your home, mountain cabin, RV, or garage can be rewarding.
A solar power system affords you freedom from the grid and allows you to save costs while reducing your carbon footprint.
For people like us, who love venturing into nature, either using boats, RVs, or just camping in the mountains, solar panel kits provides us with the necessary energy we need to power our lives – that is, our phones, laptops, fridge, or even solar composting toilet System.
That is what I call FREEDOM!
However, –here we go again, a caveat – solar power has limitations. One of the cons is can only use it during the day when the sun is shining.
Therefore, you must use it wisely to ensure maximum benefit from that giant nuclear reactor 93 miles away (150 million kilometers).
In this post, we’ll discuss 15 Solar Power Saving Tips to help you use your solar energy efficiently.
Let’s dive in…
Table of Contents
1. Energy-efficient Devices
The first step is to use energy-efficient appliances and devices.
Such devices and appliances are designed to minimize the amount of power they consume when you are using them.
They are built with advanced technologies and features that optimize energy usage, reducing electricity bills and environmental impact.
Using energy-efficient appliances and devices offers several advantages. They include:
- Consuming less power
- Extended lifespan, saving you money
Always choose ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, whether it’s a solar water heater, solar lights, washers, television, or freezers.
ENERGY STAR-certified appliances use less energy than their conventional, non-energy-efficient counterparts.
2. Use LED Lights
LED or light-emitting diodes are trendy energy-efficient lighting options for those who want to reduce their power consumption.
Compared to traditional fluorescent and incandescent lights, LED lights offer many advantages. They:
- Are more durable
- Consume significantly less energy
- Emit less heat
But how do LEDs lights save energy compared to traditional lighting?
They do so in different ways:
a. LED lights convert most of the electricity into light, thus reducing energy wastage through heat.
According to the US Department of Energy, LEDs emit very little heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat, and CFLs release about 80% of it as heat.
b. LED lights have lower wattage required to produce the same amount of light as traditional bulbs.
c. LED lights have a longer lifespan, reducing the frequency of replacements and associated energy consumption.
3. Use Power Strips
Using power strips is another excellent way to use solar energy efficiently. Power strips reduce standby power consumption.
Standby power (aka vampire power, phantom power, idle power, or leaking electricity) is energy appliances and devices consumed when turned off or in standby mode but still plugged in.
This happens because some devices and appliances claim to be “SWITCHED OFF” on an electronic interface but are in a different state.
Phantom power may account for 20% of your monthly power bill.
Here is where POWER STRIP comes in.
A power strip with individual switches allows you to disconnect a device – i.e, a TV – entirely from the power supply, thus eliminating idle power.
How do you use power strips effectively?
To effectively utilize power strips and minimize standby power consumption:
- Identify energy-consuming devices that are not in use for extended periods.
- Plug these devices into a power strip and switch it off when not in use.
- Go for power strips with energy-saving features such as timers or motion sensors.
- Make it a habit to turn off the power strip whenever you leave the house or go to sleep.
PRO TIP: When choosing a power strip with individual switches for solar power use, it is essential to consider the wattage and voltage ratings of the power strip to ensure it can handle the power requirements of your devices.
Also, it is important to choose a power strip with surge protection to protect your devices from power surges.
Here are some of the best power strips with individual switches for solar power use:
- CRST Heavy-Duty Power Strip
- Desk Clamp Power Strip
- Tripp Lite 7 Outlets Power Strip
- Metal Power Strip Individual Switches 8 Outlets
- APC Surge Protector Power Strip
- Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector
- Bestek 8-Outlet 6-Foot Extension Cord Power Strip
- Tessan Flat Plug Extension Cord
4. Motion-Activated Solar Lights for Outdoor Areas
The other top to use solar power efficiently is to install motion-activated solar lights for outdoor areas.
In addition to enhancing security by illuminating automatically when they detect motion, these lights eliminate the need for manual operation or external power sources, making them energy-efficient and convenient options for your solar power system.
In short, these lights only turn on automatically at full brightness when motion is detected within their range. They turn off or dim down to conserve energy after a few seconds of no movement.
What are the appropriate locations to install motion-activated solar lights?
To ensure optimal functionality and energy efficiency, consider the following guidelines when installing motion-activated solar lights:
- Place the lights in areas where they can detect motion effectively, such as entryways, pathways, and driveways.
- Avoid placing them in areas where natural movements, such as tree branches or pets, can trigger false activations.
- Ensure the solar panels receive direct sunlight for maximum energy absorption.
5. Programmable Thermostat
Use a programmable thermostat to regulate temperature. Such a thermostat allows you to schedule temperature adjustments based on your daily routine.
The programable feature offers several benefits, including:
- Energy savings
- Increased comfort
- Reduced wear and tear on heating and cooling systems
By optimizing temperature settings, you can avoid excessive energy consumption during periods of inactivity.
How to optimize your energy usage with a programmable thermostat. To make the most of a programmable thermostat, follow these tips:
- Set appropriate temperature setbacks when the house, RV, cabin, etc., is unoccupied or occupants are asleep.
- Use zoning capabilities to heat or cool specific areas of your home according to your usage patterns.
- Take advantage of smart thermostats that learn your preferences and adjust settings automatically.
- Regularly maintain and calibrate your thermostat to ensure accurate temperature control.
6. Install Insulation
Installing insulation will help you regulate temperature by reducing heat gain or loss.
Proper insulation is vital to maintaining indoor temperatures and reducing the reliance on heating and cooling systems.
It minimizes heat transfer through walls, ceilings, and floors, creating a more comfortable living environment and reducing energy consumption.
Types of Insulation and their effectiveness
Different types of insulation offer varying degrees of effectiveness. Common insulation materials include:
- Fiberglass insulation
- Cellulose insulation
- Spray form insulation
- Rigid foam insulation
- Reflective insulation
Your insulation choice depends on factors such as R-value (thermal resistance), installation area, climates where you may find yourself, and budget.
R-value is a measure of a material’s resistance to heat flow.
PRO TIP: Fiberglass insulation is a good choice for those who stay primarily in one climate, while rigid foam insulation suits those who travel between climates.
Spray foam insulation is a good choice for filling gaps and cracks, but it is more expensive than other types of insulation.
Also, it is essential to install insulation correctly to avoid trapping moisture and contributing to mold growth.
7. Use Curtains or Shades to Block Sunlight
Another way to conserve solar energy is to use curtains or shades to block sunlight and prevent heat gain during hot weather.
You can lower the need for a cooling system and save solar energy while increasing comfort if you reduce the amount of sunlight entering your home, RV, or mountain cabin.
Curtains and shades also offer privacy and contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal of your living space.
Choosing the right curtains or shades for max energy savings.
Consider the following factors when selecting curtains or shades for energy savings:
- Go for light-colored curtains or shades that reflect sunlight rather than absorb it.
- Choose thermal or insulated curtains that provide additional heat or cold insulation.
- Install curtains or shades that cover the entire window area to prevent sunlight from entering around the edges.
- Utilize curtains or shades with adjustable mechanisms to allow for natural light when desired. These mechanisms can include:
- Adjustable sliding panels
- Adjustable panel track blinds
- Automatic curtain opener
- Shades with light control
- Roller curtain mechanism
8. Use Devices and Gadgets Meant for Solar Power
Using devices and gadgets for solar power is another way to use your solar power effectively.
Solar-powered devices and gadgets use solar energy to operate, eliminating the need for traditional electricity sources.
They come in various forms, including solar-powered chargers, outdoor lighting, water heaters, solar-powered backpacks, and even solar-powered composite toilets.
These devices offer convenience, portability, and reduced reliance on conventional power grids.
How solar-powered devices contribute to energy savings
Solar-powered devices contribute to energy savings by harnessing renewable solar energy instead of relying on fossil fuel-based electricity.
They reduce carbon emissions and help transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.
Additionally, solar-powered devices can be used in remote areas with limited electricity infrastructure, providing access to power without costly installations.
9. Proper Sizing of Solar Power Systems
Another way to ensure that you use your solar energy efficiently is to size your system properly.
This article shows you exactly how to choose the right size of your solar power system.
Sizing a solar power system correctly is crucial for optimal energy production and cost efficiency.
Large systems can be wasteful, while undersized systems may not meet your energy requirements.
Proper system sizing ensures maximum utilization of available solar resources and long-term energy savings.
How to choose the appropriate size for a solar power system
Several factors should be considered when determining the appropriate size for a solar power system:
- Average daily energy consumption: Analyze your household’s energy needs to estimate the required system capacity.
- Solar resource availability: Assess your location’s sunlight to calculate the potential energy generation.
- Roof space and orientation: Evaluate the available roof area and its orientation to determine the number of solar panels that can be installed.
- Budget and future energy requirements: Consider your budget constraints and potential future changes in energy consumption.
10. Use of Appropriate Wires and Cables
Improper selection or installation of wires and cables in solar power systems can result in energy wastage and reduced system efficiency.
Inadequate wire gauge, poor insulation, or excessive cable length can lead to voltage drop, overheating, and power losses.
Selection of suitable wires and cables for solar power systems.
To ensure optimal energy transmission in solar power systems:
- Choose wires and cables with appropriate gauge and current-carrying capacity to minimize voltage drop.
- Use high-quality, UV-resistant insulation materials to withstand harsh outdoor conditions.
- Follow industry standards and local electrical codes for wire sizing and installation.
- Minimize cable lengths and avoid unnecessary bends or twists to reduce energy losses.
11. Use your appliances during daylight
Some solar appliances and devices consume more energy than others. Take, for example, a solar oven compared to a laptop.
A solar oven will obviously consume more energy compared to a laptop. Therefore, using these heavy power consumers during daylight is the best way to conserve solar power.
Shifting appliance usage during daytime hours offers you several benefits:
For off-grid users, using appliances during the daytime reduces strain on your solar power system at night or when there is limited sunlight, i.e., during cloudy days.
For those using grid-tied solar power systems, using appliances during daylight hours helps alleviate peak electricity demand on the grid, thus promoting grid reliability and stability.
By using appliances when the sun is shining, you can directly utilize the electricity generated by your solar panels, maximizing self-consumption and reducing grid dependence.
Some utility companies offer time-of-use tariffs where electricity rates are lower during off-peak hours. Taking advantage of these rates can lead to additional cost savings.
Some appliances that can be used during daylight hours include:
- Washing machines and dishwashers: Run these appliances daily to optimize solar energy utilization.
- Pool pumps and heaters: Operate pool-related equipment when solar energy production is at its peak.
- Electric vehicles: Charge during daytime hours to utilize solar energy and reduce reliance on grid electricity.
12. Regular Maintenance and Cleaning of Solar Panels
Regular maintenance and cleaning of solar panels are essential for optimal energy production.
Dust, debris, and dirt accumulation on the panels can reduce efficiency, resulting in lower energy output.
Tips for maintaining and cleaning solar panels
To maintain the efficiency of your solar panels:
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and inspection intervals.
- Keep the panels clear of leaves, branches, or any other debris that may block sunlight.
- Clean the panels periodically using water and a soft brush or sponge.
- Consider professional cleaning services for hard-to-reach or heavily-soiled panels.
13. Monitor your Solar Power System Performance
Continuous monitoring of your solar power system allows you to track its performance, identify potential issues or inefficiencies, and take corrective measures promptly.
It helps ensure that your system operates optimally and maximizes energy production.
Monitoring tools and techniques for solar power systems
Several monitoring tools and techniques are available for solar power systems:
- Inverter monitoring: Inverters provide real-time data on energy production, system voltage, and other key performance indicators.
- Energy monitoring systems: These systems measure and record energy consumption, allowing you to compare it with solar energy production.
- Online platforms and apps: Various online and mobile apps provide detailed insights into system performance, including energy generation, consumption patterns, and financial savings.
14. Store excess electricity in solar batteries
Storing excess solar power in a solar battery can help you save solar energy and use it more efficiently when there is no sunshine or during non-peak hours.
How to save solar energy in a battery: When solar energy is pumped into a battery, a chemical reaction among the battery components stores the energy.
The reaction is reversed when the battery is discharged, allowing current to exit the battery.
PRO TIP: When pumped into a battery, solar energy must pass through a charge controller first. The job of this regulator is to ensure that the energy flow stops once the battery is fully charged so that it doesn’t get overcharged and burnout.
15. Use the Grid as a Virtual Battery
This tip is for those still connected to the grid, either with a grid-tied or hybrid solar power system.
For such systems, when your solar panels produce more energy than your building can consume, the excess energy is sent to the utility grid.
The power company gives credits for the extra energy production, which are later used when electricity is needed at night and during periods of no sun.
This two-way relationship with the grid offers homeowners a significant benefit, as they can use it to take advantage of net metering, which cancels out the relatively high winter imports with the high solar generation and exports over the summer.
With a properly designed system, a home with grid-tied solar panels can even end up with zero net electricity usage charges for the year.
So, using the grid as a battery for a grid-tied solar power system can help to save solar power.
15 Solar Power Saving Tips: Final Thoughts
These solar panel tips and tricks give you 15 tips on saving solar energy at home, for your RV, mountain cabin, camping, or any off-the-grid lifestyle.
Using these solar power-saving tips can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your solar power system.
You can maximize energy savings and reduce your environmental impact by using energy-efficient appliances, optimizing lighting, utilizing solar-powered devices, and adopting intelligent energy practices.
Regularly maintain and monitor your solar power system to ensure long-term performance.
Embracing these tips will save you money and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.