Quick Way to Learn How Solar Power Works.

Here’s an easy way to learn the way solar panels work.

What is solar power?

Solar energy is radiant energy that is produced by the sun. Daily the sun radiates, or sends out, a huge amount of energy. The sun radiates more energy in a single second than people have used since the beginning of time!

solar energy
The energy of the sun derives from within the sun itself.

Like other stars, the sun is a big ball of gases––mostly hydrogen and helium atoms. The hydrogen atoms in the sun’s core combine to create helium and generate energy in a process called nuclear fusion.

During nuclear fusion, the sun’s extremely high pressure and temperature cause hydrogen atoms to come apart and their nuclei (the central cores of the atoms) to fuse or combine. Four hydrogen nuclei fuse to become one helium atom. However the helium atom contains less mass than the four hydrogen atoms that fused. Some matter is lost during nuclear fusion. The lost matter is emitted into space as radiant energy.

It takes countless years for the energy in the sun’s core to make its way to the solar surface, and somewhat over eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles to earth. The solar energy travels to the earth at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light.

Simply a small percentage of the power radiated by the sun into space strikes our planet, one part in two billion. Yet this volume of energy is enormous. Each day enough energy strikes the United States to supply the nation’s energy needs for one and a half years!

Where does all this energy go?

About 15 percent of the sun’s energy that hits our planet is reflected back into space. Another 30 percent is used to evaporate water, which, when lifted into the atmosphere, produces rainfall. Solar power also is absorbed by plants, the land and the oceans. The remaining could be employed to supply our energy needs.

Who invented solar energy?

Humans have harnessed solar power for hundreds of years. As early as the 7th century B.C., people used simple magnifying glasses to concentrate the light of the sun into beams so hot they would cause wood to catch fire. More than a century ago in France, a scientist used heat from a solar collector to make steam to drive a steam engine.

At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists and engineers began researching ways to use solar energy in earnest. One important development was a remarkably efficient solar boiler introduced by Charles Greeley Abbott, a United States astrophysicist, in 1936. The solar hot water heater became popular at this time in Florida, California, and the Southwest. The industry started in the early 1920s and was in full swing right before World War II. This growth lasted up to the mid-1950s when low-cost gas had become the primary fuel for heating American homes.

People and world governments remained largely indifferent to the possibilities of solar power until the oil shortages of the 1970s. Today, people use solar energy to heat buildings and water and to generate electricity.

How we use solar power today?

Solar power is employed in a variety of ways, of course. There are two very basic types of solar energy:

* Solar thermal energy collects the sun’s warmth through one of two means: in water or in an anti-freeze (glycol) mixture.

* Solar photovoltaic energy converts the sun’s radiation to usable electricity.

Listed below are the five most practical and popular solutions on how solar energy is employed:

1. Small portable solar photovoltaic systems. We see these used everywhere, from calculators to solar garden products. Portable units may be used for everything from RV appliances while single panel systems are used for traffic signs and remote monitoring stations.

2. Solar pool heating. Running water in direct circulation systems via a solar collector is a very practical solution to heat water for your pool or hot tub.

3. Thermal glycol energy to heat water. In this method (indirect circulation), glycol is heated by sunshine and the heat is then transferred to water in a hot water tank. This technique of collecting the sun’s energy is much more practical now than in the past. In areas as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, solar thermal methods to heat water are economically sound. It can pay for itself in three years or less.

4. Integrating solar photovoltaic energy into your home or office. In many parts of the planet, solar photovoltaics are an economically feasible approach to supplement the power of your own home. In Japan, photovoltaics are competitive with other types of power. In the USA, new incentive programs make this form of solar power ever more viable in many states. An increasingly popular and practical way of integrating solar energy into the power of your home or business is through the use of building integrated solar photovoltaics.

5. Large independent photovoltaic systems. When you have enough sun power at your site, you may be able to go off grid. You may also integrate or hybridize your solar power system with wind power or other forms of renewable energy to stay ‘off the grid’.

How do Photovoltaic panels work?

Silicon is mounted beneath non-reflective glass to produce photovoltaic panels. These panels collect photons from the sun, converting them into DC electric power. The energy created then flows into an inverter. The inverter transforms the energy into basic voltage and AC electrical power.

Solar cells are prepared with particular materials called semiconductors like silicon, which is presently the most generally used. When light hits the photovoltaic cell, a particular share of it is absorbed inside the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is given to the semiconductor.

The energy unfastens the electrons, permitting them to run freely. Solar power cells also have more than one electric field that act to compel electrons unfastened by light absorption to flow in a specific direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by introducing metal links on the top and bottom of the Photovoltaic cell, the current can be drawn to use it externally.

Do you know the positives and negatives of solar technology?

Solar Pro Arguments

– Heating our homes with oil or natural gas or using electricity from power plants running with fossil fuels is a reason behind climate change and climate disruption. Solar power, on the other hand, is clean and environmentally-friendly.

Solar hot-water heaters require little maintenance, and their initial investment may be recovered within a relatively small amount of time.

Solar hot-water heaters can work in almost any climate, even in very cold ones. You just have to choose the best system for your climate: drainback, thermosyphon, batch-ICS, etc.

– Maintenance costs of solar powered systems are minimal and the warranties large.

– Financial incentives (USA, Canada, European states…) can aid in eliminating the price of the initial investment in solar technologies. The U.S. government, as an example, offers tax credits for solar systems certified by by the SRCC (Solar Rating and Certification Corporation), which amount to 30 percent of the investment (2009-2016 period).

Solar Cons Arguments

– The initial investment in Solar Water heaters or in Solar PV Electric Systems is higher than that required by conventional electric and gas heater systems.

– The payback period of solar PV-electric systems is long, as well as those of solar space heating or solar cooling (only the solar domestic hot water heating payback is short or relatively short).

Solar water heating does not support a direct conjunction with radiators (including baseboard ones).

– Some air-con (solar space heating and the solar cooling) systems are very pricey, and rather untested technologies: until recently, solar air-con has not been an economical option.

– The efficiency of solar powered systems is determined by sunlight resources. It is in colder climates, where heating or electricity needs are higher, that the efficiency is smaller.

Article by Barbara Young.

Barbara Young writes on motorhome solar panels; in her personal hobby site 12voltsolarpanels.net. Her work is devoted to helping people save energy using solar energy to reduce CO2 emissions and energy dependency.

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Green Gardener Corner

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Enjoy your garden water features and your energy savings at the same time. Make a note of the various power levels and the flow rate of the solar water pumps before your purchase.
Please write us your review after your purchase. Your opinion is important to us! 

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