Solar House
Credit: Dave Dugdale via Flickr

With the push to go green and to be more environmentally friendly, a lot of home owners have looked into taking care of at least part of their own energy needs. One of the solutions for that issue is for home owners to install solar panels. However, for those who live in the Pacific Northwest there is only a limited amount that solar panels, even high grade commercial ones, can produce.

Not The Right Environment

While solar panels will work anywhere there is sunshine, and that includes the Pacific Northwest, they work better in places where there is a lot of sun every, single day. Places like Arizona, Southern California and New Mexico are ideal for homes that want to take care of some, or even all, of their electricity expenses with solar panels. The reason for that is because the amount of power that can be produced is measured by the amount of sunshine delivered in hours.

Generally speaking, a panel will produce a certain amount of electricity for every hour of intense sunlight. In the American Southwest that can be as many as four or five hours a day. In the Pacific Northwest though, homes might only get one to two hours of intense sunshine a day, which greatly diminshes the effectiveness of solar panels as an energy provider.


Solar panels, though not as expensive as they once were, are still not cheap. For a standard panel puchased at a home repair store customers can still expect to pay several hundred dollars. For panels installed by professionals, the price can easily be as high as $25,000 or more. While these panels will do what they're supposed to, it will take a lot longer for them to earn their keep in the Pacific Northwest due to the amount of sunlight they can gather. So, as a stand alone solution, solar panels are a very hard sell.

Combination Solutions to Energy Needs

Fortunately for home owners that are serious about meeting their own energy needs, solar panels are far from the only solution on the market when it comes to producing power off the grid. Homeowners can also invest in wind power, with small, medium and even industrial sized windmills, depending on the zoning restrictions of where they live in the Pacific Northwest.

Windmills can be placed in locations where solar panels won't go, or where they won't do much good, such as sticking up above plant life or on the eaves of the house where the sun doesn't typically reach. These windmills can be tied into the same power source, allowing homeowners to harness two elements at once to make themselves more independent. Additionally, for those who live near the coast where wind is a near constant, this alternative power generation method might be just the right solution. However, when in doubt, it's always best to have multiple sources of gathering power so that, no matter what, there's always at least one, viable option for home owners.