What if you woke up this morning and found that nothing in your house worked? You couldn’t have coffee and you didn’t have lights. Almost everything we have and do requires a source of energy. Without it, we couldn’t produce the electricity necessary to run these appliances and ‘things’.
Many of us have no idea that solar energy is one of the cleanest methods of energy production available. The panels we put up on our roofs simply transform the energy of the sun into energy that we can use, with no harmful by-products transmitted into the atmosphere.
But, these solar panels are not inexpensive. Although costs recently have drastically dropped, a home solar electric system can still cost about $ 30,000.
Knowing the importance of solar energy, what does it really do for us?
It’s quite simple. Most of the earth’s required energy can be produced by solar power. There are two components required for solar; an inverter and the panels.
Solar energy is non-constant and is typically sold back to the grid and given back when more is needed than is produced. The panels simply collect sun radiation that fall on them and then transform a portion to other forms of energy which could be heat alone, or electricity and heat.
Now that we know a little of how solar works, what are the advantages of solar?
- Well, for one thing….it will save you money. Once you recover your initial installation fee, well… the sun is free!
- Did you know that if your system produces more energy than you actually use, your utility company can actually buy it from you.
- There is no fuel required for solar energy.
- Solar energy is renewable (unlike oil and even gas and coal) and it helps to protect the atmosphere and environment without contributing to global warming.
- It is only generated where it is needed.
- Solar energy is low maintenance and will last for years
- It is noiseless and has no moving parts
What are the disadvantages of solar energy?
- The initial installation cost is probably the biggest disadvantage of the solar energy system. Most of the cost lies in the semi-conducting materials used in constructing a solar energy system.
- As our energy shortages become more and more apparent, solar installation will become more and more competitive, materials and pricing included.
- When installing solar panels, they do require a large area – usually half of a normal house’s roof.
- The presence of clouds or the amount of pollution in the area is a factor on the production of solar energy.
- Another disadvantage is that there is understandably no solar energy in the evening/night. However, a battery back-up or a net-metering system will resolve that issue – but net metering solves this problem in urban areas.
How is solar energy used?
First, it is important to understand that there are passive and active types of solar. When a building is on an east-west axis, and the north and south sides of the building are long and wider than the east and west, it uses passive solar. Active solar, however, uses photovoltaic silicon solar cells to capture the sun and transform it into electricity.
If the electric bill on your building or home is excessively high, you may benefit from the use of active and/or passive solar.
When choosing solar, you should always go with the least expensive options and it would benefit you if you had an energy audit first.