Solar Power Systems
Solar power systems are becoming more common and prominent with homeowners that want to achieve energy independence. They are clean, quiet, effective, and they harness the most abundant source of energy at our disposal – the sun.
Solar power systems have a range of applications. In the household, they can provide electricity on modest scale to power appliances, or they can be configured to produce enough electrical output that a house would require little or no energy from the utility. Solar power systems can also be used to generate hot water for your home.
Clean and Renewable
Unlike electrical systems that depend on fossil fuels, solar power systems produce little to no air pollutants or toxins. In fact, with solar power systems, nothing is burned, meaning that no harmful gasses are released into the air – giving a homeowner peace of mind that he or she is leaving a minimal footprint on the environment.
When converted into electricity or heat, sunlight emits none of the greenhouse gasses that coal, gas, and natural gas create. Though some of the materials from which solar power systems are created can contain harmful substances, those substances are generally contained and pose a much cleaner option to generating power than fossil fuel systems.
Because solar power systems rely on sunlight, they require little disruption to the environment, particularly when installed on existing structures such as homes and buildings. Most homeowners are able to have the entire system mounted to their rooftops. It is worth noting that larger apparatuses are needed and consume more space as more energy is required. In instances where solar power systems generate electricity for utility grids, for example, solar panels and mounts may consume acres of space in places where sunlight is particularly abundant and space is vast, such as the desert.
Since the sun rises every day, it provides sunlight daily and therefore provides natural, clean, “green” fuel for solar power systems.
Types of Solar Power Systems
Principle solar power technologies include photovoltaic systems, concentrating solar power technologies, and solar water heaters.
Photovoltaic systems are what many visualize when thinking of solar energy, as they consist of solar panels that absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. There are solar panel kits, for those who want to install the system themselves; and there are solar panel installers who will perform the installation professionally.
Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters use solar collectors to absorb the sun’s energy and deploy it directly to the heat water or space for residential, commercial, and industrial facilities.
Limitations and Cost
Solar power systems are limited to the extent that sunlight is available and the materials that use sunlight are able to convert it into usable electricity. A single cell from a photovoltaic system, for example, only produces one or two watts. Sunlight, though available daily, also varies in quantity each day depending on a variety of circumstances, including the weather, time of year, time of day, and location.
Solar power systems are generally more expensive than traditional fossil fuel systems, but technology and a general emphasis on innovating new and better means of converting sunlight into electricity are bringing solar power systems costs down yearly.