Getting started with solar energy can be a little confusing if you don’t do some research beforehand. Luckily, we are here to help you get familiarized with the concepts behind it and put you on the right track. There are many specialized resources on the Internet for almost any aspect of solar energy you might be interested in – please consider this article as a general introductory guide.
So what is solar energy? Solar energy is the radiant light and heat produced by the sun. It is clean, free, virtually unlimited and it can be harnessed by humans for a variety of purposes: air and water heating, generating electricity, cooking, lighting and many more.
Solar energy systems are classified as either passive or active, depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute the energy. Active systems make use of energy capturing devices, usually photovoltaic panels or thermal collectors, along with other devices meant to provide you with different utilities, such as electricity or hot water. Passive systems, on the other hand, rely on a variety of techniques meant to maximize the effects of solar energy. These techniques include building orientation, materials used, window placement and many other design choices. The idea behind this is to make a building retain more heat naturally, reducing the need of active heating systems.
There are numerous solutions for making use of solar energy in a home. One of the most well-known is using photovoltaic panels. These collect solar energy and transform it into direct electricity. An inverter is needed to turn that it into alternating current, which is what almost all home appliances use. Solar panels require a higher initial investment but have the advantage of providing free energy afterwards, cutting down your expenses considerably on the long run. They can even store excess energy collected for you to use at night or when the weather is not favorable. With that being said, solar panels can still work in cold, clouded areas but not at their full capacity.
Another common solar energy system is represented by solar thermal heaters. These use solar energy to heat water or air, then distribute it through a conventional heating system. They are an excellent alternative to conventional heating solutions due to the fact that they run on free energy.
There are numerous other devices using solar energy, from small things like phone chargers or solar cookers to things like generators, which are used as a backup source of electricity.
Think of your budget and consult a specialist if you decide to use a solar energy system for your home. The costs and installation options depend on specific characteristics for every home so an evaluation is needed. Check out for any subsidies offered in your country, as it has become a regular measure for encouraging solar power use.
Solar energy will ultimately save you considerable amounts of money and help the environment as well. It is good to remember that it will benefit you a great deal in the long term, so don’t let yourself discouraged by the initial investment. More than that, solar energy systems have become more affordable and there is something to be found for any budget these days.