What Is Solar Power?

Photo by spanginator

More people than ever are are deciding to go green at home. And, often, one of the first things they want to know about is solar power. To explain all the ways that solar power can be used at home would take days, so let’s start with a simpler question: “what is solar power?”

The principles behind solar energy are pretty straightforward. Solar power is taking energy from the sun and using to create electricity.

However, if you want to move beyond this overly simplistic view then the answer to “what is solar power?” needs to be broken down. Here we look at the different aspects of solar power to provide a deeper understanding of how it works. 

Solar Electricity

Solar electricity collects energy from the sun through the use of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells convert the light into electricity which can then be used for appliances, lighting, in residential homes and in businesses. Even on a shady day, this form of solar panel is still able to function.

PV cells are made using layers of semiconducting material through which the shining light creates an electric field, which is how they produce electricity. The strength of a PV cell is measured in kilowatt peak (kWp) which is the amount of energy that the cell could generate in full sunlight.

Panels made from PV cells are typically attached on a building’s roof or walls. They are available in an array of designs and colors to match any home.

Solar Water Heating

Another frequent use of solar energy is to heat water, typically for home use. This process uses solar collectors fitted to the roof as a means of gathering heat from the sun, which is then used to heat the hot water tank. There is always a back up source of heat installed as a fallback for times when there is not enough sun to power the solar system. In theory, this method could also be used as a way for heating houses, though the reality is that it would only be useful during the summer when no one needs to heat their home.

What Is Solar Power Good For?

Even with its limitations, there are many reasons to use solar power. Most importantly, it’s a practical method to take advantage of the sun’s power and limit the need for fossil fuels. In fact, there are already remote locations relying on solar power — mostly in places without access to other forms of power.

Solar power offers countless benefits. Some of the top features include:

  • Solar systems can be fast to set up,
  • They don’t cost too much,
  • Renewable solar energy is free,
  • Going with solar protects the environment,
  • A solar energy system might lower the cost of your energy bills.

Once solar energy is harnessed, the power can be used for any variety of purposes. Using solar power to our advantage may decrease our reliance upon non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuel.

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