Why Use Solar Power?

July 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

If you wish to use solar power in your home, you may need a certain amount of items that may cost quite a bit of money. However, in the long run, these items will prove to be highly cost-effective. Keep in mind that proper solar power will always need proper use of technology and quite a bit of planning.

First and foremost, you need to get a ballpark figure of how much electricity is needed in your home. If you only wish to supplement your power requirements, then that’s fine. Simply count the percentage that you wish to offset.

This can easily be done by taking a look at your electric bill. The majority of utility bills will enable you to see a monthly chart of usage through the entire year. From this, you can get the total average or, if you plan on going off the grid, focus on the peak demand.

By looking at these numbers, you will be able to estimate what size and how many photovoltaic (PV) modules you will require. PV is the method that most solar cells use to transform sunlight to electricity. All you will need is some basic arithmetic to find the perfect match of your rooftop to the size and number of required modules.

At a given cost, each module will produce certain amounts of solar power individually. And, if connected the correct way the modules should add up, the total cost will also be easy. For a regular home, solar panels usually cost up to $16,000 in today’s market. Do remember to keep taxes in mind when you calculate your expected expenses.

The modules need to be able to connect to something, though, so its connectors, wires, and clamps, will also be added to the total cost, which vary. Installation costs must also be taken into consideration since the majority of homeowners are not capable of installing solar systems on their own.

Naturally, at night, the sun won’t shine and sometimes heavy clouds and rain can lessen the insulation amount, as can other uncontrollable factors. Because of this, you should have a solar battery storage system. If you are not planning to go completely off the grid, however, you can get solar power from local utility companies instead.

If your solar system generates too much solar power than you need at any time whatsoever, some utility companies offer to buy excess solar power for their own solar systems. This is done through technical measures by running your meter backwards to supply the utility company’s needs when it would normally run forward to give power to get solar power from their solar system.

Between solar panels, batteries, and installation costs, the majority of modest solar panel systems cost around $50,000, though some will cost less and some will cost more. This is the cost that you will have to pay for over the lifetime of your solar system, which lasts for around twenty years, not counting substantial replacements.

These costs, however, are getting significantly lower as efficiency and electricity costs are getting higher with time, so it would be worth your time to get a solar panel system for your home.

What are Solar Panel Applications?

July 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

It is no longer uncommon to see huge, dark-blue solar panels on top of a roof supplying electricity through solar power. Though not a lot of today’s homes have them, there are thousands of magazine articles that have been written over the past few decades, along with pictures portraying these solar panels. Because of this rare occurrence, solar systems have been termed as the wave of the future, but the future always seems to be just barely out of reach. The points that seem to affect this matter the most are overall efficiency and cost.

However, a lot of cost-effective solar panel applications are now available on the market.

One popular example is lawn lights, which come as foot-long stakes with lights mounted onto them with solar panels on each one. Although not a lot of solar power is generated, they do not really require a lot to get their work done. They can even be placed pretty much anywhere without the need for wires and in a fast way. They are durable without the need for maintenance or batteries and their bulbs last a very long time.

Even calculators that run on solar power have been around for years, using the same technology that modern laptops have developed and put to use. They may not generate enough solar power to run a basic monitor or hard drive, but solar power can be used in conjunction with new inventions that this will no longer be necessary. Instead, they make use of organic cells.

Basic solar cells make use of layers of silicon wafers full of phosphorus. However, complicated molecules along with other elements can also benefit from the photoelectric effect. A lot of organic molecules can give off electrons when they are hit by light. Though they are not as efficient at this present day and age, they make up for it by being extremely cheap and flexible. They can even be used with particular cheap plastic alloys.

This technology makes it possible to produce highly affordable monitors and keyboard that can be folded up or rolled up. When unrolled, they can be used with solar power.

A lot of other applications can also be generated with solar systems, such as electrical fencing. This can be used to power cattle barriers, dog retainer systems or low voltage systems to keep animals under control. These elicit very small stuns that are not harmful and keep them from walking outside of a certain area.

Cars and powered boats sometimes come with a solar battery that can run engines even while the motors are off. However, a solar battery needs re-charging after each use. In general cases, running motors re-charge the solar battery and put back the power that is required to start it.
Clearly, the existence of a solar battery does not necessarily mean that it will function., When out of water or even on shore, it may be close to impossible to use regular chargers since there are no electrical outlets on the water or on most docks. This is why a solar battery comes in very handy.

This charger can recharge a solar-battery quite easily. And, emergencies aside, solar systems are very helpful in various ways.

RVs usually stay in place when the motor is turned off, though some may have generators to power them. These generators tend to be quite noisy and use up a lot of diesel or gasoline, producing foul fumes. Solar systems can supply part of the required energy to power DVDs, TVs, radios, and small refrigerators.

Generating electricity isn’t the only feasible application, though. Solar water heaters are another popular application for home that uses solar power.

With the help of tiny parabolic dishes, the energy of the sun can be concentrated into one small particular area. The energy is then sent to water storage systems that can sometimes be found outside of the home. The generated solar hot water can then be used for outdoor animal washes or car washes, as needed.

In fact, any chore that involves washing is easier when solar hot water is used. Solar heating systems can offer warm water to wash windows, supply garage sinks, as well as anything else you can think of in a garage or a home.

Modern solar systems are extremely cheap and efficient compared to the old days. They offer dependence and freedom from utility companies, as well, for any electrical or solar hot water needs you may have – a great deal indeed!

Solar Water Treatment-The Basics

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Making use of solar energy to produce electricity gets a lot of attention. However, a lot of other applications for solar power also exist, such as solar water treatment.

A lot of countries worldwide have impure water that could cause typhus, diarrhea and other medical problems. This also holds true for particular American areas and various other developed countries. By building small devices which could get rid of this problem, a lot of money can be saved, thanks to modern technology. In fact, today, individuals are even capable of building their own.

Solar disinfection (SODIS) makes use of a basic principle, which is practically the same one that is used to pasteurize milk. The microorganisms that can cause health problems can only work within liquids in a particular temperature. Beyond this temperature, they could either get killed or simply deactivated. Bacteria, amoeba, and other small organisms that cause diseases could turn harmless due to this method.

Using this method can be very easy. A simple gallon of water placed in a plastic jug can be treated in just a couple of hours. The water just needs to be placed into a clear plastic bottle onto a dark background to absorb things better. Then, it should be put under the sun. On sunny days, this process could take less than three hours if the water used is very clear. If river water is used, it clearly can’t be treated like this.

Also, it is much better to use PET plastic instead of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which has a semi-blue cast. PVC plastic tends to keep out more UV, which is a form of light with high energy, and could thus reduce how effective this water treatment method works.

Other methods of solar power water treatment exist, as well.

For less than a couple of hundred dollars, solar water can still be built or bought that will treat quite a bit more water than jugs can. They are generally produced in the shape of a rectangular container a couple of inches deep with glass panels on the side and with a siphon hose. This container is typically covered in plastic since glass tends to keep out a lot of the UV.

As solar energy causes solar heating in the water, the moisture will evaporate up and condense on a much cooler glass on top. The siphon hose will draw off some of this water, which contains less compounds, organisms, and minerals, as well as chlorine.

The same principle is generally used in various desalination plants worldwide.

A lot of locales hardly have drinkable water. Instead, they have huge amounts of salt water that is readily available. Turning this salt water into potable water can be done with the use of the same evaporation technique on a much bigger scale than in desalination plants. Only small amounts of salt water can be drunk before it properly damages the kidneys. This is one reason why seawater has killed a lot of sailors who have tried to survive on the ocean.

Solar power radiation can easily destroy pathogens in the water and it can offer water that is drinkable in special applications. Basically, solar power can provide us with clean water, as well as pollution free solar power through electricity.

Solar Power–What is Old is Now New Again

June 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Solar power has been around for centuries now. Even humans from way in the beginning have reaped benefits from the sun, since it helps animals thrive and plants grow. Soon, humans realized that the sun gives warmth. And soon after that, someone realized it could even start fires.

Years after that, smarter humans have developed a way to harness solar power even more exactly.

At the turn of the first millennium, Hero of Alexandria came up with a working steam engine, of which some models made use of solar energy to heat water. In 1767, the Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure invented the very first modern solar collector by using glass boxes, which later became solar ovens. In 1839, Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect, which showed that solar energy could be used to produce electrolyte currents. Modern solar power didn’t truly begin to take off until 1954, though, when Bell Labs scientists produced the very first, truly efficient photovoltaic (PV) cell.

A wide array of impressive devices has continued to come out, with vast improvements in efficiency and much lower costs in manufacturing. Soon enough, the curves will start to cross and solar power will then become a more useful technology compared to how it is viewed today.

In fact, it has already started to happen. Solar power has been prevalent in many homes for decades now, some of which use PV modules to produce electricity, while some use collector systems to for warmth and water heat.

Millions of highway lights and phones make use of tiny solar panels for power. Solar power lawn lamps are used in homes all around the nation for yards without the need for batteries or wires. Other applications, such as electric fences and solar battery chargers also use solar energy as their main source for power.

Solar devices are also commonly used in developing countries for water treatment, whether as basic as pouring water into a jug and letting it sit in the sun for a couple of hours or as a solar still that kills diseases and purifies in the process.

These methods are fairly cheap and only need very basic technology, making them useful for those who cannot afford sophisticated and expensive applications. Many people in the rural parts of the United States of America and developed countries are examples of this.

Solar power has a lot of uses, from coming up with non-polluting electricity to enhancing health, and even coming up with other alternatives for the convenience of vehicle users. With the cost of solar power becoming lower and the cost of coal and oil becoming higher, these applications are being more widely-used today, serving as an advantage for everyone.

Solar Power-The Basics

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Solar power may seem like a modern phenomenon, but in actuality, solar energy has been used in diverse forms over the past thousands of years now.

Aside from the blatant fact that solar energy can help plants grow to feed us, there are also several more technological uses that date way back to millennia ago.

Ancient Greeks had the knowledge to harness steam power, which was produced by solar power radiation. Before the advent of industries, these devices were seen mainly as play things. However, there were some applications that were looked at in a serious manner. For instance, Archimedes came up with a design and built a huge magnifying glass, which was used to burn enemy ships. The Romans ended up adopting this technology, as well.

Over the past few centuries, heat storage containers, thermometers, and other devices have been invented which rely on solar energy. As time has gone by, these devices have become much more diverse, not to mention much more sophisticated.

In 1839, more leaps ensued as Becquerel discovered photovoltaic effects. This device took another hundred years before it was considered as practical, though.

When sunlight touches various things, electrons end up getting knocked off of their respective atoms. These electrons that move within material then produce an electric current, which is linked to a circuit. The solar power produced can then be used as electricity for light bulbs or computers and can even solar heat.

However, electricity isn’t the only kind of solar power available.

Back in the 1920s, several public heating systems would use huge storage tanks to keep solar energy, supplying homes with the solar heat. Soon thereafter, though these systems could not longer compete in the economy. Gradually, electricity and gas became cheaper to the point that it was much lower than the operating costs of these systems.

Because of this, these systems fell into disuse and were long forgotten. But the technology was still used as a mainstream method and worked for a while as a cost-effective solution.

Hundreds of possible applications exist that make use of solar power, converting solar energy at the surface for solar heating, device power and to supply solar energy.

Satellites have also made combined solar panels with respective technology to supply solar power. These systems may be costly, but when compared to the total cost, it really isn’t. This same kind of technology is able to supply solar power to lights and phones along the highway.

Many more benefits reap the advantages of solar power, as well.

Solar heating systems are used in thousands of homes and solar power electrical systems are widely used in rural areas where solar energy can be supplemented.

Not all of these solar systems and devices are highly costly, either. A lot of cheap solar power lawn lights can be seen at homes today. And some calculators can provide solar power through small solar panels. These are so cheap that they are oftentimes just given away by advertisers.

While solar power still can’t compete with today’s high-scale electricity generation by huge utility companies, its costs are decreasing as its applications are growing. With such a long past behind it, the future of solar power can only look bright.

Solar Power and Other Renewable Energy

June 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

It is true that some claims that avid solar power enthusiasts are overly exaggerated, but it is a universal truth that solar power, as well as other renewable energy forms, is both valuable and viable. These forms of energy generate very low pollution, if any at all, and even account for effects in manufacturing to produce various components. In principle, they are inexhaustible energy sources that do not need to look to other countries in order to supply raw material.

Solar energy comes from atmospheric streams of light coming from the sun and is turned into usable solar power that is by now a well-known and comprehended process. By hitting photovoltaic modules, sunlight can generate currents of electricity that then flow into business or homes through components like circuit breakers and wires that are normally used by utility companies to generate electricity.

Wind power works in a completely different way but is also similar to solar power. With wind, propellers on a shaft can turn to surround themselves with magnets wrapped by wire coils. As these magnets turn near these wires, the electrons within feel a force that then moves them through the wire to create electrical currents.

Both of these methods are fairly simple. Solar power and wind power exist at no cost, however converting them into usable electricity may cost some money and may also come with particular engineering challenges, as well as physical limitations.

Naturally, certain materials may be needed to construct wind turbines and photovoltaic modules. They do not come for free. They need to be moved and installed and, sadly, they are not very cost-efficient in terms of how much solar power can be made compared to coals, oils, and natural gas.

Although vast improvements have been made through time, solar energy simply cannot generate as much solar power as other sources can for other energy at the same cost.

However, given the capability to fill an entire house with solar panels, this may be enough to generate 1.35 kWh per square meter per day of solar power. This could be enough solar power for an entire home to use, provided the homeowner takes care in its use.

Wind systems come with their own problems, too. Birds get killed often; they rely on continual wind; and, as with solar systems, they need to connect to storage systems. Also, they do not state how much power is needed to power other applications.

Despite such limitations, however, solar power and wind power can sensibly form a vital part of our world’s total power generation strategy. Due to their cleanliness, they are highly desirable in today’s society since they can improve the environment’s overall quality. There is no need to import oil or mine for coal that could lead to political and environmental controversy, either.

As technology improves by the day, efficiency is increased and cost is decreased, while solar power and wind power contribute to giving electrical demands. It may be some time before they can make a significant change in energy supply, but the future is where the greatest ideas lie.

Solar Home Storage Systems

June 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Today’s regular solar systems consist of two primary components: used to provide electricity today consists chiefly of two components: photovoltaic solar panels and a solar storage system. Electricity is generated from the photovoltaic solar panels, while the storage system is in charge of keeping any extra solar power for later use when there isn’t enough sunlight to give you the solar power that your require.

There storage system normally comes in the form of a wide variety of batteries that are kept in a secure and vented location, like a basement. A solar battery is usually optional, but if you wish to be totally off the grid, some form of storage system is a necessity and a solar battery are the most common form used in the world today.

A solar battery can come in two simple forms: nickel cadmium and lead acid.

A lead acid solar battery is the most common solar battery used because of its extremely low cost. They are quite similar lead acid car batteries, though they do differ in some ways. For one, a lead acid solar battery has both negative and positive terminals, on which leads are connected to. They come with metals plates, on which the terminals are connected to. These plates are then placed in sulfuric acid.

When the chemical reaction happens between the lead plates and the sulfuric acid, electricity is generated. Once the chemicals combine, they produce free electrons that will go through the terminals and into the connected leads through your home outlets. Electricity produced by the photovoltaic solar panels will send the chemical reaction to go backwards, in turn charging the solar battery.

These principles work with a nickel cadmium solar battery, as well, though there are some differences that are more practical. A NiCad solar battery may cost more, but that is because its value is higher. They are more durable and discharge a higher amount of currents before they need recharging.

Both kinds of this solar battery are deep-cycles since they supply solar power for a long period of time. Solar power batteries also do their job while the photovoltaic solar panels are not busy sending solar energy into the home or re-charging.

If you completely drain a solar battery or continuously overcharge it, its lifetime will significantly decrease. For these cases, however, there are tools called charge controllers.

Once the solar battery reaches a particular level, the controller will cut of any drain to stop the already-stored charge from reaching a level below that, which it was designed for. It also stops if the solar battery reaches the stored pre-set charge level. Most are also made to allow a lead acid solar battery to discharge 50% of its capacity at most to ensure a longer life.

Photovoltaic solar panels can last up to twenty years, while a good solar battery can only last ten. Replace them will increase the expenses of solar systems, so making their life longer is essential for the best cost-effective investment ever.

Solar Heat Your Home Today

June 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Solar heat is not exactly a new idea when it comes to powering one’s home nowadays. Since the beginning of mankind, the sun has been utilized to provide warmth to people. With modern technology today, however, this has completely changed the ways of how this can be done, taking older methods to a whole new level.

Back in the 1920s, homes were supplied with hot water through big storage tanks heated by sunlight. However, as the gas and electricity costs have lowered, these applications have become too expensive. Old ideas are usually re-used again as time goes by with added twists and with today’s hot water heating systems, solar power has been used once again for the past few decades.

What’s even newer nowadays is how solar energy is used beyond basic windows. Naturally, it is possible to let the sun stream through windows, but this often leads to certain areas becoming too bright and too warm in homes, while others do not receive the same amount of heat.

Modern solar systems that use solar heat can transfer solar energy around for an even and comfortable temperature in the entire house.

Some solar systems make use of a mixture of water and salt water. The channels and tubes that hold this mixture can be found in tiny parabolic troughs similar to mirrors that focus the sunlight into raising the temperature of the water. This is how solar systems work in heating water and this very technology can supply the entire home with solar heat.

Water systems are usually designed to retain solar heat, so that the water is always readily available and doesn’t need to be reheated all the time. However, solar systems at home reverse this idea to let go of some of the heat.

In one particular application, tubes run under clay or wooden flooring materials. By doing this, heat will gradually flow through this flooring and find itself in the air for a comfortable interior environment.

Today’s smart designers have taken this idea to a whole knew level. Since they are aware that water isn’t the only known fluid in society, they realized that air could be used as a fluid by giving air liquid properties with an easy flow.

By filling tubes with air, it is possible to gain and release heat where needed. And since gases are not liquids, leaks that may occur will not cause any damage to the home.

These applications may not be as efficient at heat storage as liquid systems, though, since they are not as dense. But this way, you will not have to worry about major repair costs if something goes awry. If a leak springs in the system, you will just have to replace or fix a small section, which hardly costs any money compared to completely replacing walls or flooring after a water leak.

These problems are actually quite common. In places where the winter is quite cold, water pipes may freeze and break. And many of these cold days will still be able to provide a lot of sun that can be used in solar systems.

Find out more about possible solar systems for your home and marvel at the wide variety of options that you are sure to discover.

Rent Solar Power

June 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

The biggest problem that homeowners come across when they consider generating electricity for their homes with solar power is the cost that comes therewith. Using solar power in an average home would require a need for quite a lot of solar panels. The majority of solar panel systems fill up most of the house’s roof, making the cost of the solar panels alone amount up to $16,000. If you add a solar battery, solar power installation and other factors, the overall investment could actually cost up to $50,000.

Although the cost may be high, most users find their money to have been invested in a worthwhile cost, especially in rural areas where power outages are quite common. It is actually kind common for wind storms to knock trees onto power lines and for transformers to blow out. Old system components may just be too old and too expensive for people with small income to upgrade. Ensure that you have a solar system off the grid can work as minimum back-up for these power outages.

The payback for home solar panel systems could be more than two decades, though, so the initial cost may still be too high for some people, compelling them to live through occasional blackouts.

However, buying solar systems upfront aren’t the only option nowadays. Various loans, rebates, leases and grant systems now exist to off-set either part of the cost or the entire cost.

Outright payments and federal tax rebates can also be of service, while exclusive state laws may allow utility companies to lower the cost of arrangements for the usage of solar power. In fact, some systems and contracts and systems even buy extra solar power, when available. If your solar system provides your home with too much solar power, the rest can go to the utility grid in exchange for a rebate on your bill.

A lot of companies are also willing to subsidize some of the cost with discounts for those who use solar systems. Not a lot of companies will pay for you to buy less of their services and products, of course, but with today’s laws in electricity generation, they can definitely give a financial incentive for it.

Several companies are coming into fruition that can lease certain equipment, which opens up the chance to lower major shares of a solar system’s upfront cost, similar to leasing a car. The overall cost through time may be a bit higher, but the initial investment can be lowered substantially by installing a solar system in reach for many people.

The majority of today’s world own homes for less and a decade and because of this, flexible terms and rates are offered by mortgage companies, which could be affecting the possibility of installing solar systems, too.

The majority of people who plan to own their home for only half a decade tend to be the most reluctant in investing tens of thousands of dollars into solar systems. Installing solar systems, however, certainly raises a home’s value, though not high enough for new buyers to pay for the entire cost. By leasing it, equipment can be returned, opening new possibilities.

With so many changes in financial arrangements and technology, solar systems are becoming quite a hit nowadays. Find out every option available and you may be able to get one for yourself.

Is Solar Power worth it?

June 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Using solar power through a solar system to give solar heat to your home is quite pricey and may cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. However, it comes with a wide range of investment that may end up with many factors.

The sunlight that can be taken into various areas may differ substantially. Some places such as New Mexico and Santa Fe get an average amount of sunshine every day of the year. On the other hand, Seattle only receives sunlight on 58 clear days, while the other 82 days are quite cloudy and 226 days are extremely cloudy. In the first scenario, solar systems would be able to offer provide a good amount of electricity for most of the year. In Seattle, however, the efficiency of solar power would be considerably lower. Because of this, people in Seattle would need a lot more modules in order to get the required electricity amount that it needs, causing this to become much more expensive.

Costs differ generally, anyway. While some homes can be completely covered with solar panels for only $5,000, most of them average around $16,000. The larger the home, the more solar panels are needed. Usage differs, as well. If homes remain linked to the grid of the utility company, it will be cheaper than if some solar power came from the home’s grid. Having a solar battery storage system could double the cost, too.

Several factors may also offset these costs. Some federal programs offer tax rebates to people who wish to install solar systems. Payment can be made directly or property taxes may be less than usual reimbursement methods. A lot of states have similar programs.

Various vendors of solar systems give personal discounts as the year goes by. Some may have winter sales, while some may try to beat or match the prices made by their competition. As with other products, it is very possible to find great bargains on top quality materials.

While all this is happening, more manufacturing improvements have decreased the cost of equipment production while increasing its overall efficiency. A wide array of photovoltaic solar panels, batteries, modules, inverters, charge controllers, as well as several other components can be found in the market nowadays. Most of them work on the same principle but as with any other product, some do a better marketing and manufacturing job compared to others.

However, the electricity cost from utility companies keeps increasing in the majority of areas and doesn’t seem to have an end coming soon. Due to the raise in oil prices and the ongoing heavy rules of utility companies, as well as the unforeseen end to the nuclear power industry, these high prices just seem to keep skyrocketing.

Because of this, using a solar system would be ideal, although it may differ from one person’s personal circumstances to the next. Once a solar system has been put in and works properly, most people will be glad they chose this option. Solar systems last a long time, are cheap and easy to maintain and help reduce pollution.

There is no singular answer to any circumstance. Like with most things, using a solar system at home could come with certain trade-offs. In the end, you are the only one who can make the decision on whether it is worthwhile or not.

Regardless of each person’s motive to implement a home solar system, they come with the same result: it is clean, safe, and saves a lot of power. Everyone wants that.

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