Have you ever considered using solar power in your home and garden instead of traditional electricity? Is this a workable solution for your energy needs? Maybe you have thought about the possibility, but don’t have enough information to make a decision. Solar power is certainly on the horizon for the future, and it is a realistic option for many reasons.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are devices that convert solar energy into other types of energy to generate both electricity and heat. Solar panels are made from silicon plates combined with other elements, such as phosphorous and boron, to create solar cells that produce a negative and a positive charge. There are two types of solar panels: solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic modules. Both look like flat panels, but each panel is a microscopically thin rectangular box that absorbs the sun’s energy and works to turn that energy into electricity or heat.
The Reasons to Consider Solar Power:
1. Environment – Today there is a lot of talk about global warming and what is happening to the condition of the Earth. The “greenhouse effect” has caused people to rethink the way they live and create a healthier environment and a safer future. Solar power versus conventional electricity has become a topic worth researching and debating. Solar power provides energy without polluting the environment with harmful gases and destroying the atmosphere. Solar power is safe, efficient, and cheaper over the long-term.
2. Costs (Installation) – The initial cost of solar power is more expensive that traditional electricity, but over time will be the cheaper option. We all know that each year our electric bills get higher with yearly increases imposed by the electric company. Although solar power is not cheap to install, the cost will be easily recouped through the years. Once solar power is installed, it will cost you nothing. It runs off the sun’s energy, so all you need is a sunny day. There are no monthly electric bills, just free energy.
3. Costs (Maintenance) – Traditional electrical and heating devices need to be maintained and serviced regularly. For most households, this is twice a year, winter and summer. There are filters to be changed, parts to be replaced, and services to be performed, adding service charges to the cost of the parts. Solar panels collect the sun’s power which is free.
The power is stored in batteries and used as needed. If the energy is not being used it does not dissipate, but remains in the batteries until needed. There is no fuel, yearly check-up, or service technician necessary, and this means savings of hundreds or thousands of dollars per year.
Solar Power For Your Home:
Solar power for your home can be used to provide both electricity and heat.
Three types of solar systems are available for the home:
1. Grid tie system – has solar panels and an inverter. The inverter changes the direct current (DC) received by the sun into AC power used in your home to run appliances, lamps, tools, etc. This system supplements your electricity and can greatly reduce your monthly power bill from your electric company. .
2. Off grid system - has solar panels and an inverter, but is a totally stand alone unit. It is separate from any other power source, and uses backup batteries to store energy. This system is best for rural areas that may have a problem getting utilities.
3. Grid tie with backup battery – produces its own power, but has a backup system, and can supplement power with the electric company. It works well for power outages.
The system size and cost will vary by the requirements for the amount of solar energy that is necessary to power your home.
Solar Power For Your Garden:
Solar power can be great used in the garden or exterior areas around your home. The major advantage of using solar power outside is that there are no cords, wires or plugs needed, as solar devices are completely fueled by the sun. Placement of lighting, heaters, or fountains is not restricted, giving more creativity to landscaping projects.
Solar Lighting: solar lights store energy from the sun all day and release it at night. There are hundreds of solar lighting manufacturers, and a wide selection of products such as spot lights, pathway lights and decorative lights. Solar lighting is easy to install and inexpensive to operate while saving energy costs.
Solar Fountains: solar fountains add the peaceful sounds of running water to your garden. They are available in pedestals, bowls, birdbaths and lanterns, and some are designed to float in water or pools. The solar panel or entire unit needs to be placed in the sun, and the flow of water may fluctuate through the day, depending on the sun’s intensity. Solar fountains will require a battery to operate at night.