Solar Energy is an infinitely renewable energy source that uses the sun's rays directly to generate electricity for use in your home commonly through home heating, home cooling, and water heating. The use of solar energy can help reduce your costs and the dependence on fossil fuel, helping to change the world.
Solar energy is clean; it has almost no impact on the global climate. By comparison, electricity generated by power plants produces carbon dioxide emissions that pose serious threats to the environment. Not only is it threatening to the environment, it is also becoming vastly scarce. Meanwhile, as long as the sun is shining, electricity can be generated, leaving you with an endless energy supply all while reducing your costs!
As the Energy Star Website states that heating, cooling, and water heating makes up around 60% of the annual energy bill for a typical home.
Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater can be used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable. There are two types of solar water heating panels:
Evacuated tubes are round and similar to the inside of a thermos. Their round shape maximizes their sun exposure. Evacuated tubes have a vacuum chamber between the two walls of the tube which assist the tubes in producing hot water on cloudy days. Evacuated tubes provide superior performance in cold weather conditions.
Flat Plate Solar Collectors
A flat plate solar collector, which can be fixed on the roof tiles or integrated into the roof, is a metal box with a glass or plastic cover (called glazing) on top and a dark-colored absorber plate on the bottom. The sides and bottom of the collector are usually insulated to minimize heat loss. Sunlight passes through the glazing and strikes the absorber plate, which heats up, changing solar energy into heat energy. The heat is transferred to liquid passing through pipes attached to the absorber plate.
A residential solar-energy system uses solar modules, made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, to harvest the sun's energy and convert it into electricity that can be used to power your lights, appliances and other electrical devices in the home. There are two types of solar-energy systems: grid-tied PV system and stand-alone PV systems.
Grid-tied PV Systems
A grid-tied system is the most common and least expensive of all residential solar systems. With a grid-tied system you do not need a battery bank because the utility company acts as the battery. However, you may consider a battery in case of grid failure. When you your grid-tied system produces more energy than you need to power your homeâ€™s lights, appliances and other electrical devices the excess can be sold to your utility company. When your grid-tied system does not produce enough energy to meet your needs electricity is bought from the utility company.
The majority of grid-tied PV systems use PV modules mounted on a roof or a pole near the house. However, some systems use PV roof tiles.
Stand-alone PV Systems
Stand-alone PV systems, also called off-the-grid or off-grid, operate independently from the utility grid. People living in remote areas of the U.S. have been relying on these off-the-grid PV systems for years.