Just about everyone knows about solar energy these days, but when you actually think about it, do you know how it works? Understanding solar energy isn’t necessarily going to help you increase the efficiency of your energy output levels (as long as a professional has helped you with the setup) but since it is a fascinating subject and one that will only become more important in the years to come, it’s worth getting to know the basics.
According to the experts over at SolarEnergy.org;
Solar energy just means energy (light or heat) that comes from the sun.
Solar energy isn’t just what warms up the earth when the sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere, it is also one of the main components in photosynthesis, which means that most plants would die without it. People have been utilizing the benefits of solar energy for thousands of years; back in the B.C. days, people would actually make use of magnifying glasses so that they could turn the sun’s rays into fire.
The Greeks used solar energy to their advantage around 2,000 years ago when they made the choice to built their cities so that the sun could enter into homes during the winter (to warm them up) but not in the summer (to keep them cool). These days, humans have made great advantages in renewable energy and solar power can now be used as a source of electricity; a technology that was invented about 50 years ago.
How Do Panels Work?
Most solar panels are manufactured from silicone and when this material is heated by the rays of the sun, this ends up causing the electrons within the material to move. Wires are specially built into solar panels that are then used as lines of transportation for the excited electrons, and as they pass through the wires, they are converted into electricity.
In order to effectively make use of solar power, people need to harness the electricity that is collected, and this is achieved with the assistance of a battery. Batteries store this power and they also make it easy for individuals to use them as “power outlets” when the time comes to get their homes or offices running with electricity.
Being able to store the electricity means that people have access to it, not only during the night, but also on cloudy days or through the winter.
If you are thinking about installing solar panels in your home, you need to be aware of some of the factors that will affect the efficiency of the system. Even if you’re hiring a professional to do the work, it still helps to get to know a bit more about all this before you go ahead and choose the specific type of alternative energy system you’re going to put in place on your property.
According to Rik DeGunther of How to For Dummies;
Good solar designers assess climate particulars to enhance system performance.
This means that by utilizing everything from the snowfall to the air density, individuals can increase the amount of energy they will be able to draw from their solar system.
Firstly, you’ll want to take the amount of sunlight that you get to a particular area into account, since this will ultimately determine your output of electricity. Snowfall should also be considered, because in areas where the panels are just about completely covered in a thick layer of snow, the sunlight won’t be able to penetrate the panels. Air density is an important facet, because as you get close to sea level, the air gets thinner, and this means that it scatters the sunlight much less; this allows you to take advantage of more energy. Other factors that could end up affecting the output of a system include temperature, fog, rainfall and wind.
Mounting Your Panels
Once you have taken into account the various factors that could end up affecting the amount of sun that will have access to your panels, you will then need to decide where to mount them. Of course the best place to mount your panels is the area that receives the most sun, although practical facets need to be considered before the installation is completed. Mounting racks make it easier to pick where you want to have these devices installed, but if you don’t want to pay a small fortune for this equipment, you’ll most likely need to settle for your roof, whether this is the ideal location or not. Keep in mind that solar panels aren’t always appealing; in fact, some people think that they give their homes more of an “industrial” look, which means that they need to be placed in an area where this isn’t as much of an issue.
The Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar energy has so many benefits associated with it that it is only natural that individuals and businesses are turning to this energy source, instead of the limited natural resources, such as coal for electricity. More and more businesses and private homes are having solar panels installed, and yet there are still those people who are unsure about the many benefits this form of power has to offer.
Firstly, while in the past this resource has been somewhat expensive because of the costs associated with installing solar panels, this is quickly changing. According to recent statistics, the price of utilizing solar power has actually gone down by 30%. In terms of having the panels installed, financing options, rebates and other forms of financial aid are all making solar energy more accessible to the average person.
Keep in mind that while the costs of installing solar panels might be higher at the moment, the benefits of utilizing a virtually free and infinite source of power (just about) make all of this more than worthwhile. For these reasons, along with many others, universities, government buildings and schools throughout the world are all jumping on board the solar energy bandwagon and benefiting with every passing minute.