3 Ways to use Solar Panels in Your Home and Garden

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.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

jack April 9, 2009 at 11:40 am

I’m trying to figure out based on an average of 30 kwh per day usage, how many square inches of solar panels do I need and how many batteries do I need to be self sustained. Can you help me?

jack

admin April 9, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Jack,
what do you mean for: “how many batteries do I need to be self sustained”?

Home Solar Energy September 9, 2009 at 2:48 am

I guess Jack means he wants to store his daily excess for use at night. You`d probably need to think about having enough capacity for 2 or 3 cloudy days with under performing panels.
There is a new prototype battery being developed for energy storage, quite possible usable in the home.

Daniel from Ukraine September 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Hello there!;) I was wondering what kind of prototype battery is being developed currently? Any news on that Mr HOME SOLAR ENERGY?;) How many of these batteries will I need to keep my house light up if it’s raining for several days?Thanks

Home Solar Energy September 30, 2009 at 12:01 am

Hi Daniel,

The battery is being developed by a company called Ceramatec.
Its based on a sodium-sulfur mix which apparently runs extremely hot. Somehow they have managed to bring the operating temperature down to something more safer. Storage capacity of around 20kwh.

Ron November 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

If you’re connected to the grid why in the world would anyone want batteries ??? Batteries are inneficient and require replacement every 3 to 5 years. Use the grid as you battery and your efficiency will be in the high 90% range. batteries will only give you about 30%. Most people think that when they add solar to their home that they disconnect from the grid. This is a myth, you are always connected to the grid and will generate credits during the day and take what you need from the grid at night.

Brittany Gibbs April 25, 2011 at 11:29 am

Is there any other ways to use solar peanels (or solar cells) in your home??(: I was just wondering because I’m doing a powerpoint over them at school… so I’m very intrested in everything about them right now because IREALLY need a 100….. So if there is any imformation that you could give me that would be great!!(: thanks
~Brittany!!:DD <3

joel May 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

i really need some help here.

a salesman told me i needed one hundred thirty (130) 250-watt panels to deliver 100 percent replacement seeing as we use 3000 kW-hr per month and based on the assumption we get +/-4.5 sun-hours [kW-hr/m^2/day] in Baltimore, MD.

so the [literally!!] sixty-four thousand dollars question is: how many panels would i REALLY need?

how do you set up that equation? my associative math skills are a little rusty?? i am

humbly,

joel

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