Solar photovoltaics is one of the most important technologies to pave the way towards a 24/7 clean energy economy. With the cost of solar dropping in the last decade, it is now becoming the go-to renewable energy technology. Not only are power utility companies investing in solar, but also residential and commercial businesses are looking to place solar on their rooftop to save on energy bills and to make a statement that they want to help with climate change. Furthermore, consumers and businesses are purchasing a variety of solar-powered products (e.g., chargers, generators, batteries, outdoor lights) to save even more on energy bills and save the climate.
The Benefits of Solar Electricity
After the initial capital investment (CapEx), it costs nothing to harness solar energy. That means lower electricity bills which can add up to thousands of dollars saved per year. In some states you can even sell solar credits, called SRECs, to the power companies translating directly into more money in your pocket.
Solar also increases the value of a home, sometimes as much as 5%, which is a great investment in the long run.
Read our detailed on whether residential solar on your rooftop is worth it.
Improves The Air Quality Around You
Burning carbon fuels produces a large variety of harmful particles that are released into the air we breathe and contribute to global warming. Reducing carbon emissions is a requirement.
Lower Carbon Footprint
In addition to lowering carbon emissions, solar panels take less energy and resources to produce than other forms of electricity production and have dramatically lower resource consumption over time.
The real environmental cost of production will also lower over time as the factories which produce the panels will themselves be able to run on solar power when it permeates the area.
With solar energy, you do not need to rely on the power company to supply you with energy. Old infrastructure and poor planning can leave many people without electricity, but your solar panels will still produce what you need.
In addition, if someone plans on living off the grid entirely, the ability to generate electricity anywhere the sun shines ensures comfort won’t be sacrificed.
Basics of Solar Energy: How does it work?
Solar technology generates useable electricity from the sun’s irradiation. Here are the basic steps:
- Solar photovoltaic cells absorb the sun’s irradiation (or in other word’s the sun’s energy) and convert it to direct current (DC) electricity
- If you are wanting to use solar panels to power your home,
- then a solar inverter, connected to the solar panel, converts DC electricity from your solar modules to alternative current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is what is used by all the homes in the U.S.
- This AC electricity is passed through your circuit breaker to power all your devices/appliances in your home
- If there is extra electricity on top of what you are consuming, it is put back into the power grid (and you can potentially make money on the excess)
- If you want to power devices (e.g., phones, tablets), you can just use DC electricity directly.
There are now a plethora of solar products that provide portability, flexibility, and can be used in multiple situations. The only difference is that these solar smart devices do not need to be mounted on your roof and fed through your circuit breaker. They can be directly connected to your phone charger or powering our outdoor lights in your home, to just about any application.
6 Ways To Use Solar In Your Home
1. Taking Advantage of Natural Light
Converting the sun’s light into power isn’t the only way to take advantage of our star. Low E windows that let in light but keep out heat, skylights and sun tubes make for fantastic lighting solutions during the day.
2. Solar Powered Lights
When the sun is down, solar powered lights shine using power stored in internal batteries. Often very inexpensive, solar powered lights come in a huge variety of styles from pathway markers to motion sensing flood lights.
3. Solar Powered Battery Chargers
Many electronics in our lives today use batteries, and a solar charger is a convenient way to keep those batteries full. Many solar chargers on the market have their own battery, making charging devices faster and allowing you to charge even after the sun is down.
4. Small Scale Solar Power Options
Rather than a full-size solar panel system, you can take full advantage of solar energy by using a small solar AC inverter. Often designed for one or two panels, these small inverters can power work lights, power tools, and serve as a backup power source for appliances like refrigerators. Some solar panels are even portable and make a perfect addition to an RV or a small cabin.
5. Use The Sun For Heat
Solar Pool Heaters, solar water heaters, and ovens are just a few of the ways you can turn the energy from the sun into usable heat. Solar water heaters especially can work in almost every environment and work with a conventional water heater to greatly improve efficiency and lower the amount of energy used.
6. Buy Solar Power From The Grid
Maybe you live in an apartment or other situation that does not support installing solar but still want to take advantage of solar energy and promote a greener earth. You can use devices that track your energy consumption and have that energy purchased from approved solar farms exclusively, or by using the device to request your utility company purchase solar renewable energy credits.
Our Solar Buying Guides
Our industry experts at the TheEnergyFix have developed thorough buying guides for each type of solar product on the market today. These guides are intended to help you make a decision on which product is the right fit, what you should look out for, FAQs, and more. Check them out below:
TheEnergyFix’s Buying Guide Process
We take the following 6-step process to narrow down each solar product: