Whether you have a driveway gate for the security of your home, the safety of your livestock or just for the aesthetics, the chances are you’ve grown pretty tired of getting out of your vehicle to haul the gate open, getting back in, driving through and then getting back out again to close it.
If so, the idea of an automatic gate opener has probably crossed your mind each time. And if the perceived expenses of getting an automatic gate opener, plus having an electrician come and install power for it, have prevented you from adding this time-saving convenience to your life, there is good news.
Installing a gate opener is actually a pretty straightforward do-it-yourself project. Plus, if you opt for a solar panel to power it, then there’s no need to hire an electrician and you won’t see a spike in your electricity bill.
Simply attach the solar panel to the gate or a nearby pole and run the wires into the battery. The solar panel works by hooking into the automatic gate opener's battery, replacing the 110v low voltage plug that would normally connect it to an outdoor outlet. A solar panel can also be retro-fitted onto an existing opener if you already have one installed.
You can also get a 30-percent federal residential tax credit toward the cost of a new solar powered gate opener, accessories and installation, as long as you do it before December of this year. Additionally, your state may have some applicable credits to offset the cost even more—check the Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency.
“A qualified solar power system installed in your home on or before the end of the year can potentially result in a tax credit of 30% of the expense of the upgrade,” says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance. “This is different from a tax deduction – the money is subtracted directly from your tax obligation. And the amount of the credit has no cap.”
Schrage adds, “On average, you can expect to save roughly $1,000 per year by going solar, although this does depend upon the scope of the upgrade and what part of the country you're located in.”
The automatic gate opener is also a great example of how simple and convenient it can be to use solar panels to power all types of tools and equipment. Wiring a solar panel into battery-powered items is relatively easy, as this Treehugger.com article illustrates.
While solar power hasn’t caught on as quickly as most environmentalists would like, using it in these small, incremental ways is sure to help people understand how convenient, inexpensive and simple to use this clean source of power is.
Jennifer Tuohy is a gadget geek who loves using technology to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. As more solar products come on the market, Jennifer provides advice on how they work and if they are worth buying. To see the solar-powered driveway gate opener options that Jennifer talks about in this article, visit The Home Depot. Read all of Jennifer's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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