Solar Energy Key Takeaways
- Solar energy comes from the sun and it’s one of the most ample sources of energy.
- Solar energy can be captured in various ways.
- The “photovoltaic effect” is the instrument by which solar panels are able to harness the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity.
- Want to learn more or add solar energy to your home or business? Contact Sunline Energy for your free estimate.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Our sun is a natural nuclear reactor. When the sun hits the earth tiny packages of energy called photons are released, which can travel 93 million miles from the sun to the Earth. Solar energy is a source that is responsible for all of our energy sources and weather system on Earth. Enough solar radiation hits the planet to theoretically be able to fill our global energy needs for a full year.
In the Sun’s core, there are nuclear fusion reactions that produce a large amount of energy that radiates from the Sun’s surface and into space in the form of heat and light. The solar power that is harnessed can be converted to energy using solar thermal or photovoltaics collectors. Unfortunately, solar energy only accounts for a fraction of our overall global energy use, the lower cost of installing solar panels means there is an opportunity for more people to switch to renewable energy.
Harnessing Solar Energy
There are various ways to use energy that is produced from the sun. The main ways it can be harvested into energy are solar thermal capture and photovoltaic. Solar thermal capture is mostly used for electricity production for massive scales in solar installations and photovoltaics are mostly used for smaller projects such as residential or business solar panel installations.
Solar energy is one of the best sources by being the cheapest and fastest growing. It’s constantly growing and improving. It will also continue to grow rapidly in years to come. There are many great benefits of adding a solar system to your home, you will improve the environment lower your energy bills and enjoy other perks that solar has to offer.
Another popular way to use solar energy is to capture heat from the sun’s radiation directly and use it in different ways. Solar thermal energy has a range of uses compared to photovoltaic systems, but thermal energy usage at a small scale is not practical.
The three types of solar thermal energy are low-temperature, known to use for heating and cooling; mid-temperature, used for heating water; and high-temperature, used for electrical power.
Low-temperature solar thermal energy systems involve heating and cooling air. An example of this solar energy usage is in a passive solar building design. It’s built for passive solar energy use, the rays from the sun are allowed into a living space for heating and when the area needs to be cooled it is then blocked.
Mid-temperature solar thermal energy incorporated in solar water heating systems. Heat from the sun is captured by some collectors on the rooftop. The heat then transfers to the water running through a pipe so there is no need to rely on conventional water heating processes, such as water heaters powered by gas or oil.
High-temperature solar thermal energy systems are typically used for generating electricity on a bigger scale. In a solar thermal electricity plant, mirrors focus the sun’s rays on tubes containing a liquid that holds the energy. This fluid is heated and can be used to turn into steam, which then is used to turn a turbine and generate electricity. This is usually called concentrated solar power.
Photovoltaic Solar Energy
One way homeowners can take advantage of solar energy is with a photovoltaic (PV) solar system. The solar panel system converts the sunlight into electricity that can be used immediately.
The process known as the photovoltaic effect is when the solar panels convert solar energy to usable electricity. Sunlight strikes a semiconductor material and knocks electrons loose, setting the electrons into motion and generating electric current that be captured with wiring. This current is known as direct current (DC) electricity and must be converted to alternating current (AC) by using an inverter. The conversion has to happen because the U.S. grid operates in AC electricity.
Installing solar panels is a smart way to capture solar energy and a great way to save you money on your electric bill while gaining some independence from your local utility bill as well as fossil fuels. Business owners can also greatly benefit from installing photovoltaic solar panels in their businesses.
Considering Solar Energy for Your Home
The best way for homeowners to save money with solar power energy is to install a solar photovoltaic system. To find the perfect system at a great price, request your free estimate from Sunline Energy. Once you request your estimate from one of our solar consultants will ask you a series of questions and expect your roof to make sure it’s in good condition. They will then provide you with a quote that will meet your energy needs.