Today, more people are becoming more aware and conscious of how to take care of natural resources. And for that reason, more sustainable practices and efforts are coming to light. But aside from being environmentally friendly, switching to sustainable ways also allows you to save money. And one of those sustainable innovations is solar energy.
If you’re looking into investing in solar energy soon, this article can be for you. This post outlines what you need to know about solar energy and how you can use it at home.
Understanding Solar Energy
Essentially, solar energy refers to the light and heat emitted by the sun. While every region on Earth gets some sunshine throughout the year, the amount varies. Solar energy captures this radiation and converts it to usable energy.
These include photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP).
- Basics of PV: You’re probably most familiar with PV from solar panels. When the sun shines on a solar panel, the PV cells in the panel absorb the energy. As a result of an internal electric field within the cell, charges move, enabling electricity to flow.
- Basics of CSP: Based on the principle of concentrating sunlight onto receivers, CSP systems convert solar energy into heat that can be utilized to generate electricity or stored for later use. It is mostly utilized in large power plants.
Advantages Of Using Solar Energy At Home
Solar energy is a renewable resource that will always be available. And aside from it being an energy resource that doesn’t pollute the environment, here are solar energy’s other notable advantages:
- In general, the energy consumption by households is typically higher in the afternoons and evenings, when everyone is home. This can be ideal since solar energy is at its peak production during those periods. Remember, solar panels do not function at night.
- Installing solar panels can be beneficial to your wallet and can be cost-effective in several ways. Energy savings are modest, but the other advantages add up. For one, there’ll be less load on your HVAC system. Solar panels can also be used to power lighting and other electronics at home.
- Adding solar panels, like a remodeled kitchen or a finished basement, are seen as renovations and house innovations, and therefore, they will likely increase your home’s value. Studies demonstrate that solar homes can help increase their value. Solar homes can sell for more than non-solar homes, depending on market conditions like electricity rates and transmission capacity.
Solar Energy Applications At Home
With solar energy, you can boost your home’s sustainability. Moreover, solar energy can meet many of your everyday energy needs, such as the following:
Charging Batteries With Solar Panels
Almost any battery-operated gadget can be charged with solar energy via a photo-electric panel setup. Photo-electric solar panels provide direct current (DC), which is the same as most batteries. Many reasonably priced solar panel kits include connections for charging cell phones, tablets, and laptops. With a simple inverter that converts DC to AC, you can easily connect to different battery chargers.
And, many more panels can charge many more batteries, which in turn can power practically any AC equipment, up to and including your entire home.
Solar lighting offers various advantages to both businesses and households. For one, solar lights are great for places off-grid, where electricity is expensive, or if you want to promote eco-friendly energy practices. Solar lighting is one of the most practical and economical solutions available because it does not require an attached grid power and the home solar installation costs are inexpensive.
Solar lights may be used in numerous ways. Simple LED bulbs or solar lanterns are examples, but others have a battery and integrated panel. In addition, the best feature of solar lighting is its minimal maintenance. LED lights powered by solar panels can generally survive for ten years or over.
Due to the rising electricity costs and environmental concerns, it wouldn’t be uncommon anymore for one to invest in solar water heaters. With solar water heaters, the sun’s energy is collected through solar panels that are commonly mounted on the roof. This will be utilized to heat water used for various household tasks, including washing clothes and utensils, showering, etc.
Summer savings from solar ventilation are significant. And today, there are several solar ventilation fans available to help cool and dehumidify your home, with several free-standing solar-powered fans providing the same value.
Solar-powered air conditioners are already known for successfully cooling dwellings, but attic fans can do the same too. While they are the lesser-known type of solar-powered rooftop ventilation units, they are used to aid in cooling your attic during the summer and avoid condensation in the winter. These less-known attic fans can outperform typical attic fans.
In addition, a solar-powered attic fan can also be used to ventilate a whole house. By lowering the room temperature in the attic, the heat from the rest of the house may also be trimmed down, making the whole residence cooler.
In a nutshell, solar-powered irrigation systems water plants and vegetables in paddy fields and gardens. This technology can also be used for urban, livestock, and agricultural purposes.
The pumps’ motors are generally powered by solar PV arrays. The peak wattage of a solar module is its nominal power (Wp).
Solar ovens are seemingly becoming popular as residential appliances. A solar oven is a slow cooker, just like an electric crockpot. It uses angled reflectors to transmit the sun’s energy into a particular chamber to heat food slowly over many hours. And in this case, the fuel is free in the form of sunlight.
Notably, solar ovens cook slower than normal ovens, preserving moisture in foods like pork, beef, and baked potatoes. However, there may be instances when the temperature will fluctuate. And in such a case, it can make solar cookers unsuitable for baking goods like cookies. In this matter, you can choose to use a solar oven only when it’s appropriate.
Heating Swimming Pool
Installing a solar pool heater can considerably cut your pool heating expenditures. They’re considered cheaper than gas or heat pump pool heaters and have low operational costs. And more so, it is one of the most cost-effective solar energy uses in some climates.
However, consider first your solar resources before buying and installing a solar pool heating system. This is because the efficiency and design of solar pool heaters are affected by how much sunlight reaches the place. Solar pool heaters use both direct and diffuse solar radiation. So even if you don’t live in a hot, bright climate like the Southwest, your property may have enough solar resources.
Choosing The Right Installer
Much like any significant home project, don’t select and settle on the first offer you get. To thoroughly analyze your choices, it’d be ideal to request three to five quotations from a list of reputable service providers. Doing so allows you to have a better idea of the average cost per watt and the services being offered, which is the point of comparison when choosing an installer.
Part of the services an installer must provide should include designing, obtaining the necessary permits, and installing solar equipment. And while the installation may look easy and simple, the entire procedure may take weeks or months, depending on your case and needs. Your contractor should also inform you if you need to replace your electrical panel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Perhaps, you may have more inquiries regarding solar energy. The FAQs outlined below can hopefully help you better understand solar technology, installation, and economics so you can go solar with ease.
How Much Does Solar Panel Cost?
Solar panels range in price depending on the brand and type. While solar panels can help you save money on energy, you need to know the full starting costs so you can manage your spending.
Solar panels are a long-term investment. How much solar panels save you depends on several factors, such as the amount of daily direct sunshine available to the panels, the roof’s aspect, and the system’s capacity. In addition, local electricity costs are also a big indicator of how much solar panels can save you.
How Many Hours Of Sunlight Can You Expect Each Day?
You may anticipate your home solar system to produce energy during peak sunlight hours in your location. Phoenix, for example, has more peak solar hours than Seattle. But that does not rule out the possibility of a Seattle house installing solar panels; it simply means that the homeowner may require more panels.
Can a House Be Powered by Solar Energy Alone?
Because solar only works when the sun is shining, it may not create electricity when it is overcast or at nighttime. There are several battery solutions, but they’re generally pretty costly. Most solar-paneled houses still use the grid occasionally.
Can I Install Solar Panels Myself?
Ideally, the best approach to installing solar is through a certified professional who works with high-quality solar panels.
However, if you want to DIY, you must recognize and know how to manage the risks associated with its installation and maintenance operations. Pay close attention to any safety warnings, local construction and electrical codes, and equipment instructions.
Is It Safe To Use Solar Panels In The Snow?
Winter means snow and ice, and most manufacturers generally build their systems to endure the worst of it. In fact, after a snowfall, the snow may cover your solar panels. But don’t freak out. They usually ‘self-clear’ well the next sunny day.
Snow reduces annual energy production by a small amount, however.
Deciding to power your house entirely with solar energy demands a significant investment. The infrastructure is slightly more involved than in a traditional setup. Calculations for developing and operating your new system must be accurate because a simple error can leave you with little juice to get by. However, running a house entirely on solar energy is highly possible.