Types of Alternative Energy on a Homestead

Alternative Energy Sources

One of the great things about launching a homestead is that you can strike out in new directions. Turning to various types of alternative energy is one area that has greatly increased in popularity. A big reason for the appeal is that these renewable energy sources fit in with the environmental and sustainable mindset that so many homesteaders have. You’re working hard to produce clean healthy food, so why not have clean energy at the same time. Rural properties can be ideal for some of these choices too.

Wood Fuel

wood pileThis is typically just used for heating your home, but almost all rural houses have a wood stove somewhere. Besides the wonderful smell and feel of wood-fired radiant heat, it’s one of the most cost-effective types of alternative energy to heat your home, compared to other fuels such as gas or oil. And though it will take many years for a tree to grow to proper size for cutting, wood is fully renewable and sustainable. Wood fuel can also be used to heat water, but you’ll need other energy sources for electrical power.

 

Solarsmall solar panel

Other than heating with wood, solar power is the most popular choice for the energy-conscious homesteader. You can generate enough electricity to power a typical home’s worth of appliances so you don’t have to give up your fridge or washing machine. Panels can be mounted on the roof if your house is situated just right and not shaded by trees, otherwise you can use a ground-mounted rack for them instead.

If you are somewhat handy and have electrical knowledge, you may be able to install a system yourself. Otherwise, you should get a professional. Your panels should hook right into your existing home wiring system so nothing really changes in your day-to-day power usage except that you should keep an eye on your battery loads to make sure you aren’t running low on power.

Batteries store your daytime-created power so that you have a consistent source both night and day. A typical system should allow you to keep drawing power even after a few days of weak generation (rainy or very cloudy weather).

Solar is great because it generates power pretty much daily, and is completely silent. Northern regions may not do as well because the sun is not out long enough during the day, but you can tie this in with other types of alternative energy for a more complete system in that case (like adding a wind turbine).

Wind

Wind turbine and solar panelsThis is the next big electricity producer, and though wind turbines can create some noise, it is otherwise a very neat and clean way to produce power. Granted, a turbine needs steady wind in order to work which won’t always be suitable. Most people hook up a wind turbine along with another power source, like solar panels, to help balance out the peaks in production. Just like with solar panels, you would hook a turbine up to a battery system and your home wiring would all stay as-is.

Heavily wooded areas can be a problem but if you can get a tower in place that puts your turbine above the trees then you can make it work.

Water

Hydro power is a fantastic year-round and 24-hour a day power producer if you are lucky enough to have the right circumstances for it. A simple stream will not be sufficient for any decent electrical production. For a homestead, it would be referred to as “micro-hydro” and is usually used together with other types of alternative energy.

There has to be a certain amount of water “fall” from one point to another. Relatively flat stretches of flowing water generally don’t produce enough power. This is a little too technical for the scope of this page, but it is worth looking into if you have moving water on your property. Actual waterfalls would be even better.

Methane

This is a newer option that is gaining traction in homesteading circles, namely because we usually have no shortage of manure to work with. It’s also known as bio-gas  and it generally means that the natural gases given off by rotting organic matter are captured and used as a fuel. This is a very simplified explanation, but you get the point.

It can be a great option to make better use of the ever-growing piles of manure but you can also take advantage of  bio gas by just composting plant material. This is probably one of the least used types of alternative energy sources, but it can also be one of the easiest to set up by yourself.

You will have to do a bit more research as this process will require more equipment but it’s becoming a growing trend in a small-scale capacity. Why not give it a try?

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Homesteading 101

Table of Contents Who Are the Homesteaders?  Perception vs Truth of Homesteading Why Homestead? Forming an Action Plan  Choosing Your Homestead Land  Sources of Water on the Homestead  Types of Energy Sources Types of Alternative Energy Food on the Homestead  How to Preserve Food Communications on a Homestead What is
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Who Are the Homesteaders?

So you might be wondering what kind of person decides to get back to the land and shoulder their own food responsibilities. In a historical sense, the term was originally used for those tough pioneers who first came to settle the western United States. They were taking advantage of the
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Perception vs.Truth of Homesteading

Because many people today live a "city" life before starting to homestead, they really don't have too much personal experience with it before they begin. That means they are making choices based on a lot of preconceived notions that may not be too accurate in reality. Hearing stories from older
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Why Homestead? Considerations for Homesteading

Making the Decision This should be your first consideration. Why are you even thinking about getting into homesteading to begin with? Be honest with yourself when figuring this out. Are you looking for a slower-paced lifestyle, a way to be more environmentally-friendly, or perhaps a way to take more control
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How to Form an Action Plan

How to Form an Action Plan So you've been doing your research and have been looking into all the areas that you think you need to know about before getting out onto your own homestead. But have you forgotten anything? Here is a summarized list of all the areas you
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Choosing Your Homestead Land

Choosing Your Land There is nothing as important to a homestead as its land. If you are shopping for that perfect homestead parcel, make sure you take the time to do your research and think about all the variables before you buy. Other than pulling up stakes and moving, you
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Sources of Water on the Homestead

Water on the Homestead Land is very important for a new homestead, but so is water. You are going to need sources of water for your own family (drinking, bathing, etc.) and also to keep your garden growing and for any livestock animals. This is definitely not a minor detail
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Food on the Homestead

Food on the Homestead A huge part of homesteading is the production of your own food. There is a real primal sense of accomplishment to produce the food you eat, not to mention the fact that it is going to be healthier and tastier than anything you'll get at the
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How to Preserve Food

Preserving Your Harvest So once you've embarked on your homestead garden, you need to have some sort of plan to handle the bushels of produce you're going to have come harvest time. That's assuming your garden is large enough to produce more than your family will use up right away.
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Types of Energy Sources on a Homestead

Have Energy on Hand You're going to need energy to run your homestead, but that can come from a number of different sources. Though alternative energy sources are big with homesteaders (especially the more remote ones), this article is going to cover the more conventional types of energy sources. Most
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Types of Alternative Energy on a Homestead

Alternative Energy Sources One of the great things about launching a homestead is that you can strike out in new directions. Turning to various types of alternative energy is one area that has greatly increased in popularity. A big reason for the appeal is that these renewable energy sources fit
Read More

Communications on a Homestead

Homestead Communications It's not talked about as often as gardening or water supplies, but managing your communications on a homestead can be a vital issue. Communications infrastructure can be poor in some rural areas so be prepared to down-grade your expectations a bit. Standard phone lines aren't usually a problem,
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