Solar energy is a broader term used to refer to all sorts of ways that sunlight and the power within those rays is collected and utilized for both commercial and residential purposes. So how is solar energy used?
There are more and more technologies being developed that allow us to use solar energy for both large scale systems and also to power smaller appliances. There are even portable solar panels available now that you can fit in your pocket or handbag to recharge your batteries, cell phone, ipod and other small devices.
How does solar energy work? To keep things simple, let's begin with a definition of solar energy. The short and most understood definition of solar energy is: the light and heat the sun provides naturally.
Solar Cells and Solar Panels
The most frequently utilized method of generating solar power is through photovoltaic cells or solar panels. Photovoltaics, or solar cells as they are sometimes called, are manufactured from a material called silicon. Following a chemical process, the photovoltaic cells are created and can then turn the photons from the sunlight into energy.
The type of energy generated via a photovoltaic cell or cells can be stored in batteries and then used to power everything from radios, calculators, toys, solar lights, battery chargers, solar roof vent fans, water fountains, solar powered water pumps and generators and more!
Solar energy is one of the fastest growing, if not the fastest growing, technology when it comes to utilizing energy throughout the world.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
One of the biggest reasons that solar energy isn't utilized more widely is due to the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment needed to capture the sun's energy in order to use it. Large areas of land or surface area are required to install enough solar panels to capture, collect, and store the sun's energy in order to power a home or business or school. That alone can be a huge obstacle to overcome in some areas of the world.
Right now it is actually somewhat cost prohibitive if you are talking about large-scale projects, although more and more affordable solar energy technologies and resources are being developed, including more resources for solar power grants. There's also a growing interest in diy solar panels and home solar systems.
It's reasonable to say however, that homeowners have more of an opportunity to power their homes with solar energy as opposed to large factories or businesses. It's possible to power many things in your home with solar energy, and reduce your electricity costs significantly.
Over time, environmental pollution and weather elements can take a toll on the solar panels and that can reduce their efficiency over a period of years. At the point the weathering or damage is too much, you'd have to look at investing in additional solar panels or equipment. The flip side of that is that you won't have to do that for at least 20 years and maybe not for 30 years.
Yes, the initial investment may seem daunting, but your return on your investment will more than make up for that outgoing cost. There are a growing number of solar energy grants available for many homeowners across the country to help with the initial cost of going with solar power, so be sure to do some research prior to making your final decisions on whether or not to begin using solar energy in your home. Each state is different, meaning that some states might offer grants or incentives at the city level whereas others will offer it at the state level.
To see more articles on how is solar energy obtained and how does solar energy work, please visit What Is Solar Energy?
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