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I know this will probably get closed, but it seems that I can't find anything that will guide me in the right direction.

We live in a South American country, so we have tons on sun. We also have a terrace, so we have tons of wind. Lately, I've been interested in renewable energy solutions for our apartment.

What's a good starting point For people with no knowledge of the subject? I'm not looking for technical background; I just want to understand how I can implement renewable energy solutions without having a PhD.

Everytime I begin searching for information, I find tons of technical mumbo jumbo that I don't understand. It's just discouraging since I have no idea what any of it means.

My goal would be to go to any online store and try to create something usable with off-the-shelf items.

Thanks.

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    In most urban settings wind turbines don't make sense due to lack of strong, sustained wind - see answers here. I'd suggest limiting your question to PV. – LShaver Mar 12 '17 at 16:49
  • What's PV? Thanks. – rbhat Mar 12 '17 at 19:16
  • PV is short for photovoltaic, as in solar photovoltaic for solar energy -- sorry to throw jargon at you! – LShaver Mar 12 '17 at 19:17
  • Look into solar cookers. Make your own from an old satellite dish and some silver foil. If you google it you'll fine loads of good and practical ideas. – RedSonja Mar 13 '17 at 11:36
  • Your question is a bit broad. You may want to ask multiple question, each addressing a particular topic or term you don't understand. I agree with LShaver that it's best to limit yourself to solar energy: you can consider photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panels and maybe also solar cookers as RedSonja suggested. – THelper Mar 14 '17 at 10:07
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I'm not an expert on the topic but I have been doing similar research for the past several months as I'm planning to build an off-grid home and, obviously, renewable energy is critical for me. As LShaver has suggested, wind turbines are probably not the best option for an urban environment.

  1. You (probably) won't have strong and constant wind to generate enough electricity.

  2. Wind turbines that create considerable electricity require very strong structure to keep them steady on the ground and that could be problematic in the city.

As for solar panels, it is much more achievable but you need to do the math whether it is worth it and also consider your local regulations. I think you will find these two helpful in your research:

There are tons of DIY articles and videos on the Internet. I suggest you try Instructables and youtube first to see something visual and get a better understanding of what you are getting into. Afterward, make a plan for your system. For me, there are 3 types of plans:

  • based on budget
    • if you are working on a budget, the most important part you need to check are battery and converter prices. The solar panels are not that expensive (considering the rest of the stuff you will need for sunshineless hours)
  • based on space
    • calculate how much space you have to build your solar system on and make sure it make sense. (positioning of solar panels is key) When you have done the math and have decided, keep in mind that smaller and more panels work more efficiently but cost more because of the cabling required to connect them together.
  • based on desired electrical output
    • if you have unlimited budget and space to build on, calculate how much do you need and when. You need to understand how many electricity consuming appliances you expect to power from the solar system, how many of them at the same time, how many at all times, etc. You will find that your electrical bill contains a lot of useful information on this.

All in all, keep asking the right questions (in google, here or other forums) and you will eventually find the best solution for you. I wish you the best of luck!

If you have more questions, I would be happy to try and answer them (to the best of my knowledge).

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