Renewable Solar Energy
Residential solar energy is gaining popularity as an alternative to grid supplied electricity. The world is facing an energy crisis and using renewable energy is more important than ever. Solar energy is one of the most promising renewable energy sources for the planet, particularly for residential applications.
Photo Credit: sxc.hu/nevmic
How Solar Panels Work
Solar cells are made of a semiconducting material, usually silica. The cell is doped with another element to create a difference in charge from one side to the other. When solar energy strikes the surface, it causes electrons to move and creates an electric current. The electricity generated can be used immediately or it can be stored in batteries for later use.
How Can Solar Power Be Used?
A solar electric system can power a whole house, a single circuit in a home or a separate system like a back workshop that is not grid connected. Smaller solar applications are also available for the home. Solar powered path lighting, solar pond pumps and small solar panels for charging batteries for items like cell phones and laptop computers, are a few examples.
What Does Solar Power Cost?
Solar electric systems have a wide range of price tags. Some can be very expensive - thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. But most have a short payback period of a couple years or so. Some smaller systems are very affordable and there are things you can do to reduce your solar system cost significantly like conserving energy, using federal tax incentives, and applying for solar grants.
How to Get Started with Solar
How big or small you start when beginning to use solar energy in your home will depend on your budget and your energy needs. If you are thinking about installing a solar power system in your home, first think about the scope of your project. Do you want to power your entire home? Do you want to install a system in a vacation home or cabin to run a few lights, a fridge, and a laptop computer? Do you want to eventually power your whole home, but want to start with just one circuit and grow your system as budget allows?
Once you know what you want out of your solar electric system, speak with a solar contractor to discuss specifics. You may want to do some or all of the work yourself, but it is still a good idea to get some guidance and information from a professional solar company.
Solar energy may be the renewable energy source for the future, but now is the time to begin investing in solar. Nomatter how big or small you start, the savings will add up and last for years. The residential solar power system you install today will be producing power for decades to come.