You’ve heard of solar-powered homes, solar-powered electrical stations, and even solar-powered cellphone chargers. But a solar powered horse barn? Is it possible?
Solar power works by harvesting the sun’s energy and converting it to electricity. If you have a barn with a solar electricity generator, your electricity comes from the sun. This means you don’t have to pay a utility company for the electricity you use.
In most cases, a barn’s (or home’s) solar generator system is connected to the local power grid, and if you produce more electricity with your system than you use, you can get money back from the power company.
While solar power is an option for barns in areas serviced by an electric company, if your barn is not on the power grid, solar power is a way to have working lights, electrical outlets and other amenities that require power.
The cost of installing a solar generator will be offset over time by the money you save on electricity. In fact, if you are building a new barn, it will likely cost you the same amount of money to connect the barn to the power grid as it would for you to install a solar power system.
The best way to determine if you will indeed save money by installing solar power is to determine your barn’s average electricity usage and subsequent costs, and compare it to the costs of adding a solar power system. You also need to take into account the amount of sun you get each year. In areas with many sunny days, you will be able to generate more solar power than you will if you live in a part of the country where sunshine is scarce. If you aren’t able to generate enough solar power, you will receive your electricity from the grid, which means you will have to pay the utility company for its usage.
Keep in mind that you will also need a backup generator if you want to be assured you will have power in the event of a general outage. Because most solar power systems are connected to the grid, a power outage will still affect you. Insurance is also important in the event your solar panels are damaged during inclement weather.
If you have an existing barn, you also need to take the barn’s construction into account. A south-facing roof is best for solar panels. If your barn does not have a south-facing roof or a roof that isn’t strong enough to support panels, you’ll have to install a pole-mounted array to house them. The array must be located in an area that is from shade at all times of the day. You may also need to use a pole-mounted array if the pitch of your barn roof is too steep. A roof with a strong slant will not allow maximum sun exposure to the panels.
If you believe solar might be the way to go for your barn, check with the Department of Energy to determine if any incentives are given for solar power installation in your state. This can help offset your costs. Also, be sure to do your homework to find a solar installation company with a good reputation. Start by contacting your local power utility and ask for recommendations.
Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and the author of Trail
Riding: A Complete Guide. She participates in long distance competitive
trail riding with her Spanish Mustang, Milagro.