Solar Power 101: how to get energy from solar activity
The sun not only provides warmth and light, but it is also an unlimited source of energy.
The energy we generate from sunlight is known as solar energy (or solar power). We can convert enough energy for our everyday needs from the sun’s rays using a process known as the photovoltaic effect.
To generate your own energy, you need a complete solar power system. The essential components:
- Solar panels (used to capture solar energy)
- An inverter (used to convert that energy into a form that can be used to power your appliances)
- Racking (the foundation on which your system is mounted)
You also need a way to store the energy generated by the panels.
Here are some reasons why you should consider solar energy over other options:
- Renewable: Sunlight is an unlimited resource. The sun’s rays can be harvested repeatedly for energy without depleting the source.
- Lower Electric Bills: Solar energy is a far more affordable alternative to utility power for grid-tied properties (anywhere with access to power lines). Your electric bill may be reduced to zero with the right size system.
- Remote power: If you live in a remote location, it may be too expensive or impossible to run power lines to your house.
Here are also some drawbacks to consider before going solar:
- High up-front cost: Even modest systems cost a few thousand dollars, and complete family home systems can cost well into the five figures. Although it eventually pays for itself, getting started can be excessively expensive.
- Weather Dependent: Your solar panels’ production can be reduced by snow, shade, and other obstructions. Your panels won’t perform as well as promised if they don’t receive a lot of sunlight.
- Takes up space: Depending on design, solar panels can be over one meter wide and 2 meters tall. A few dozen panels are typical for a household installation. You must have a place to put them because they take up a lot of space.
- Storage is expensive: The most expensive component of a solar system is without a doubt the battery. Your return on investment will be reduced if you require them to store energy (either off the grid or as a backup for your grid-tied system). They should be used when absolutely necessary or to offer security in places with unstable power.