What you Should know About Alternative Energy and Generators | homify
Back to Ideabooks

What you Should know About Alternative Energy and Generators

Bright Ideas Bright Ideas
Add photo

There are two types of energy: brown energy and green energy. Brown energy refers to electricity produced by burning traditional fossil fuels like coal or petroleum. This type of energy has been associated with pollution because it emits a range of greenhouse gases attributed to climate change. Green energy is the exact opposite. It is made from infinite and environmentally friendly alternative energy sources, such as wind, hydro or solar power.

Types of alternative energy sources

When we say alternative energy sources, we are talking about the following renewable energy generation methods.

Wind power: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, wind power is one of the most common alternative energy sources in the United States, which sometimes produces more than 6% of the country's electricity. Today, wind power is mainly generated by a wind turbine. These structures, which can be over 400 feet tall, look like large pinwheels. When the wind blows, the blades of the turbine rotate and generate kinetic energy. This energy can then be converted into useful electricity for your home.

Solar energy: The sun is so powerful that a single hour of sunlight can power the planet for a full year. To harness solar energy, solar panels or solar cells use semiconductors to capture the powerful rays. The semiconductor, usually silicon, absorbs sunlight and emits its electrons. This creates solar energy, which can be harnessed and transferred to the power grid.

Geothermal energy: There are geological hot spots like volcanoes or hot springs full of alternative energy all over the world. These areas emit extreme temperatures that can be converted to renewable energy when captured. To harness this energy, geothermal power plants are constructed in hot spots where they drill into the Earth's core. The rising steam or boiling water drives a turbine to generate electricity.

 Hydroelectricity: Water is another free resource that is a good source of alternative energy. And it is one of the oldest sources of renewable energy. In the 1920s, hydropower covered up to 40% of the USA's electricity needs. Although the resource is much less today, it remains a valuable source of energy. Hydroelectric power stations usually contain a dam that can be used to control water levels and movements. To produce energy, the system pushes water through a turbine and spins it. The movement is then picked up by a connected generator, which converts the energy from the water into electricity.

Biomass: Instead of letting plant waste decay, the energy stored in plants can be converted into sustainable energy. Since plants store energy from the sun, they are full of valuable energy that just needs to be captured. In power generation, plant material is burned to produce heat, and the heat is then converted into renewable electricity. Common biomass materials are forestry waste, corn stalks or husks, sawdust, and switch grass.

Biogas: Energy from biogas is produced by converting animal manure into electricity. As bacteria break down manure, special machines are used to reduce oxygen and convert animal wastes into methane. Methane gas can be utilized to boil water or create electricity for your home while leftover manure turns into manure. Most of the biogas plants are located on large farms where farmers use biogas to run farm operations.

Importance of Alternative Energy

Power outages. Brownouts. All of these power outages cause significant damage to households and businesses. They can reduce valuable working hours and interfere with equipment that protects people in times of extreme heat and freezing cold. Worst of all is when there are power brownouts during a medical procedure. This is where generators come in.

What does a generator do?

Generators are, essentially, lifesavers. They are emergency sources that convert the fuel supply - typically propane, diesel, or gasoline - into electrical power. These are the main sources of energy during power cuts. 

Types of generators

There are three main types of generators: portable, inverters, and standby. 

Portable generator

A portable generator operates on diesel or gas and can temporarily provide electricity.

Notable characteristics:

  • Uses an internal combustion engine to conduct electricity.
  • Can be connected to electrical devices or tools via plugs.
  • Can be connected to system subpanels.
  • Can be used in remote locations; good for outdoor adventures
  • Has enough power to power the TV, freezer and refrigerator.
  • The engine must run at 3600 rpm to achieve the standard 60 Hz output.
  • Can power tools and lamps.

Inverter generator

An inverter generator uses a motor connected to a generator to produce alternating current. Unlike other generators, a rectifier is also used to convert alternating current ( AC) to direct current (DC).

Notable characteristics:

  • Uses high-tech magnets.
  • Uses advanced electronic circuits.
  • Goes through three phases to generate electricity.
  • Produces alternating current, converts it to direct current, and ultimately converts it to alternating current.
  • Maintains a steady flow of power to devices and equipment
  • Is more energy efficient because the engine speed adapts to the power required.
  • Alternating current can be set to any voltage and frequency when used with suitable equipment.
  • Usually small and light in weight.
  • Suitable for car, boat or RV.

Standby generator

A backup or a standby generator is an electrical system that works with an automatic transfer switch that commands it to run a device during a power outage.

Notable characteristics;

  • Runs automatically
  • Provides permanent power protection
  • Has two parts: an emergency generator and an automatic transfer switch
  • Runs with natural gas or liquid propane
  • Works with the type of fuel already in use at home in the facility 
  • Uses an internal combustion engine
  • Detects the power failure within seconds and starts the power supply so that the power failure can is felt for a very short time.
  • Runs automatic self-tests every week to see if they respond correctly to power outages.
  • Continuously monitors the mains power supply.
  • Used in security systems for elevators, backup lighting, medical and life support devices, and fire protection systems.

Generator maintenance

Maintaining a generator is a comparatively similar process between the three main types of engines. First of all, it is essential to follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule for all types of generators. Inspections include checking for leaks, evaluating oil and coolant levels, inspecting belts and hoses, and checking battery terminals and cables. It is important also to inspect the oil as it needs to be changed regularly. The frequency of oil changes depends on the manufacturer, the frequency of the generator and your environment. To learn more about alternative energy and how to choose the best generator that's perfect for your needs, visit this alternative energy review site.