Its no longer a secret that solar power is quickly becoming the preferred method of harvesting and storing electricity. Businesses and residence everywhere are doing their part to promote a cleaner and more affordable source of energy by powering their homes and appliances with solar.
To maximize the return on your investment, you need to pair your newly solar-powered home with energy-efficient appliances.
How Much Solar Power Do Home Appliances Need?
Every appliance is going to require a different amount of energy to operate but the good thing about solar is that if you have the proper equipment, and a sufficient amount of panels, then you can power anything you want.
Another thing to consider here is the type of inverter you plan on using for your system.
All-in-one inverters are the easiest to set up and tend to be a little cheaper, but they require more energy at idle and are rarely approved to be tied into the grid – the downfall to this is that you can’t sell the excess energy produced by your system to the local energy supplier, but you do have complete control of and the ability to bank the excess for later use.
Regardless of the inverter you currently use or plan on using, energy efficiency should be of top concern to every solar system owner. The most effective way to conserve the energy produced by your solar system is to only run energy-efficient appliances in your home.
You can usually tell if an appliance is efficient by whether or not it is Energy-Star certified. This is the certification that the Environmental Protection Agency gives to appliances that pass a rigorous efficiency test.
Not every appliance goes through this testing and some of them that do not are still very efficient appliances – below I am going to cover the most efficient home solar appliances out there today.
Using an Energy Monitor To Determine Usage
If you’re going for peak optimization when setting up your system then you are going to want to figure out your home’s average energy usage by using an energy monitor like this one by Sense.
By figuring out your home’s average energy consumption before installing your solar system you can make sure that you install the right amount of equipment to power your home and appliances without generating too much or too little energy.
For peak energy performance you need to make sure that the appliances running off of your solar panels are as efficient as possible.
Unfortunately, the appliances we use for everyday convenience and comfort demand quite a bit of energy to operate but by using high-efficiency appliances you can drastically reduce the required amount of energy to power your home.
Below I am going to cover the most common appliances to run with solar power, starting with the one that requires the most energy and working down to the least.
- HVAC Systems
- Water Heater
- Washer and Dryer
No matter what style of heating and air conditioning system you use, it is like going to account for the largest expenditure of energy in your home or business. Making the switch to a more energy-efficient HVAC system is the fastest way for you cut energy costs and start making money.
Starting with the most efficient I am going to be covering the following types of HVAC systems.
- Geothermal Heat Pump
- Mini-Split Heat Pump
- Standard Heat Pump
- Central AC/Furnace
1. Geothermal Heat Pump
Although the installation may be slightly more expensive, utilizing geothermal energy is by far the most cost-effective and renewable way to heat and cool your home or business.
It does this by burying a series of pipes, commonly referred to as a pipe loop, at least 10 feet underground, or underwater where the Earth’s temperature maintains a relative year-round temperature of around 54 degrees Fahrenheit – this also prevents the pipes from freezing.
A water or antifreeze mixture is pumped through the pipe loop and adjusts to the ground or water temperature – when the fluid is pumped through the heat pump the 54-degree fluid is used to either heat or cool the air being blown into the home depending on the temperature outside.
By utilizing the Earth’s regulated temperature the only thing that needs power from your solar system is going to be the heat pump itself. This accounts for the 1:5 ratio meaning that with only one unit of electricity a geothermal heat pump can provide 5 times the amount of heating or cooling energy to your home or commercial space.
2. Mini-Split Heat Pump
The mini-split, or ductless HVAC system, is the second most efficient way to heat or cool your home or business and can easily be powered by your solar system.
This type of heat pump works by connecting indoor air handler units, that mount on the wall, to an outdoor compressor and condenser unit. The indoor air handler is responsible for taking in air and transferring it to the condenser/compressor, this is where the air is conditioned by the heat being either removed or retained from the air before being blown back out of the indoor air handler.
By transferring heat instead of creating it through burning some kind of energy source like gas or electricity, a ductless mini-split system can cut energy costs related to heating by up to 60% in the wintertime. Similar savings can be seen when you compare a mini-split system with a traditional window or wall mount air conditioner.
Eliminating the use of ductwork makes for a much smaller amount of energy needed to move the heated or cooled air, making this a great decision for use with solar panels and in small mobile spaces. Another perk to eliminating ducts is a drastic improvement to the overall air quality of your home or business.
3. Standard Heat Pump
While standard heat pumps can be powered by a sufficient solar set up they are not the most efficient option on the market. They are still a better option than a traditional air conditioner and furnace set up which uses 50% more energy than a standard heat pump.
A heat pump acts like a dehumidifier and cools a space down by removing the heat energy from the indoor air and transferring it outside. The heating process is done similarly but in reverse fashion, because it collects the heat energy from the outdoor air and transfers it into your home or business space.
Standard heat pumps are a viable option for a solar-powered HVAC system but there are far more energy-efficient ways to heat and cool a space.
4. Central Heat and Air
Central heating and air conditioning is the least energy-efficient way to heat a home or business but despite its high cost of operation, it can still be powered by a solar system. These kinds of systems typically use 3,500W of electricity to operate so they demand a much larger solar system for around-the-clock operation.
Central air conditioners and furnaces remain to be more energy-efficient than say a window air conditioner, but they are the worst option for somebody planning to power their HVAC system with solar energy.
Water heaters are one of the highest consumers of energy in America, accounting for just a little under a quarter of the total electric usage in homes and businesses.
Advancements in the industry have led to the creation of the newer HPWH, or heat pump water heater. This works in much the same way as a heat pump HVAC system in that it extracts the heat energy from the outside air to heat the water for your home.
It is estimated that heat pump water heaters are 300 to 400 times more efficient than traditional water heaters which makes them the perfect choice for somebody using a solar system as their main source of energy.
If you plan on installing a heat pump water heater to work alongside your solar system then I recommend this High-Efficiency Smart Hybrid model from Rheem. This is one of the most efficient water heaters on the market and it saves the average household up to $440 annually.
- Smart connectivity allows you to control the water heater from anywhere.
- Provides sufficient heating for a home of 3-5 people.
- Save hundreds on local energy initiative rebates.
- Perfect for use with solar systems.
- Energy-Star Certified
- The purchase price is substantially higher than traditional water heaters, but in time they pay for themselves.
- Requires professional installation.
Far worth the investment, and estimated to return 2 to 3 times the initial purchase price over its lifetime, this is easily the best choice in heat pump water heaters on the market today.
Were you hounded as a kid to turn the lights off whenever you left a room? As annoying as it may have been it was wise advice seeing as how lighting accounts for 15% of the world’s electrical consumption.
This number has decreased as advancements have been made in low-energy fixtures, bulbs, and the ability to remotely control lights from anywhere.
LED or light-emitting diode technology is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to reduce the amount of energy needed for lighting in your home or business. LED bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional light bulbs, and they put out more light and they last longer than incandescent light bulbs as well.
The ability to remotely control the lighting in your home is the second-best way to decrease the amount of solar power needed to power the lighting in your home.
Remote access has been proven to decrease the average amount of time lights are on in the house by giving the consumer complete control and preventing the occasional light left on all day or night.
Another key way to increase energy efficiency in your home or business lighting is to install different fixtures for different lighting needs. Permanent LED or CFL ceiling fixtures are the most efficient option for lighting indoors while solar-powered lights are the best option for outdoor lights.
For cabin fixtures, you can also opt for portable solar blankets as a source of power.
Washer and Dryer
Although a dryer uses around 10 times the amount of energy that a washing machine does, the efficiency of both can be improved by researching and selecting machines with the highest energy efficiency rating.
Washing machines don’t use a lot of energy when compared to dryers but there is still room to increase the efficiency of your home by selecting a machine with a high-efficiency rating.
When it comes to a consistent performer LG is regularly at the top of the list of most efficient washing machines and can be trusted as a brand that values a more efficient option for modern-day conveniences.
Running a dryer the average amount of times is estimated to cost over $100 a year but this cost can be greatly reduced with especially when using heat pump style dryers. This style of dryer cuts energy costs associated with running a dryer by two-thirds and is well worth the extra money upfront.
The most efficient and popular heat pump model clothes dryer is the Miele PDR908 is has a higher energy efficiency rating than most of the big-name manufacturers and will more than pay for itself over time.
On average the annual cost to operate a refrigerator is around $150, making it one of the highest consumers of energy today. A good rule of thumb when deciding on the refrigerator that best suits your solar system is that the smaller the fridge, the lower the energy requirement.
This means that you should never purchase a fridge with any more space than you plan to use. Below I am going to cover the most efficient and the best solar powered refrigerators in the following 3 categories – bottom freezer, top freezer, and french door models.
Best Top Freezer
According to Energy-Star, the most efficient top freezer refrigerator of 2021 is the Ascoli MDFR280WE. Boasting an average of 45 kWh less usage per year than the average of similar models in the United States.
Best Bottom Freezer
With over 65 years of experience making refrigerators, the Beko BFBF2414SS is the most efficient bottom-mounted freezer and fridge combo on the market making it one of the best choices when it comes to optimizing your appliances for your home or businesses solar system.
Like all of their appliances, this one was made with efficiency in mind. The LG LFC22770ST is the highest rated french door refrigerator when it comes to efficiency ratings and is one of the best options for powering larger fridges with solar.
When deciding on what appliances to go with for cooking you first need to decide what your needs are. Much like a fridge, the average cost to operate a range and oven is most heavily impacted by the size of the unit.
Convection ovens are on average 20% more efficient than a full-sized oven are the best choice for smaller living areas or for people that don’t need a lot of oven space. This type of oven comes in a variety of sizes and uses less energy to reach the desired temperature making it one of the best options when it comes to solar-friendly appliances.
This option isn’t available to everybody but if you have a natural gas supply to your home or business then this might be the best route for you to take. The average annual cost to run a gas-powered cooktop is around $30 but could be far less if you rarely cook.
One of the most reliable and energy-efficient gas-powered cooktops is the Bosch NGMP656UC. Highly rated for both quality and efficiency this stylish 5-burner cooktop is a top contender for solar-powered appliances.
While induction ranges are more efficient than standard electric ovens they are far from the most efficient option out there for a solar-powered home. This style of range results in more even heat through the use of electrical induction rather than using an open flame or heating element.
One of the most efficient induction ranges offered by LG is their LSE 4616ST model, which is paired with a sizable and efficient convection oven on the bottom. This makes it one of the best choices if an induction range is your preferred cooking method.
TV, Computers, and Internet
When it comes to powering small electronic devices like tv, computer, or internet modem you can rest easy knowing that they hardly use any electricity at all and as long as you shut them off in between uses then you can expect a solar system to be more than enough to power all three with ease.
Despite the small amount of energy used by the three, there are still a few things you can do for that added extra push for peak efficiency.
The first and cheapest way you can increase the efficiency in devices such as these is by using an energy-saving outlet strip like this one. This reduces the amount of energy used when the appliances are idle.
Another viable option is a timed outlet strip which allows you to customize the times at which you power certain appliances. One with a mechanical timer like this will provide you with a long-lasting product that you won’t have to worry about replacing any time soon.
Contrary to popular belief, dishwashing machines use a surprisingly small amount of electricity to cycle and are estimated to cost an average of $30 annually.
The deciding factor in choosing the right dishwasher is up to your individual needs – a single person might opt out of getting a dishwasher altogether, whereas a family of 4 is more than likely going to lean towards a standard full-sized dishwasher.
Regardless of your personal needs just make sure that the dishwasher is Energy-Star certified and you’ll be in the clear.
Making the switch to solar power not only benefits you and your wallet, but it benefits the environment and your overall quality of life.
The best thing about solar energy is that with the right amount of equipment you can power anything that runs on electricity, but by making the right decisions when it comes to energy-efficient appliances you can drastically reduce your total energy consumption and in turn won’t have to worry about solar panel sizes and wattage or require additional unnecessary solar panels and equipment.