Learn How Solar Energy Systems Power Your Home!
The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth's surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world's energy consumption for a full year. Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy either through photovoltaic (PV) panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation. This energy can be used to generate electricity or be stored in batteries or thermal storage.
Solar radiation is light – also known as electromagnetic radiation – that is emitted by the sun. While every location on Earth receives some sunlight over a year, the amount of solar radiation that reaches any one spot on the Earth’s surface varies. Solar technologies capture this radiation and turn it into useful forms of energy.
There are two main types of solar energy technologies—photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP).
You're likely most familiar with PV, which is utilized in solar panels. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.
What is photovoltaic (PV) technology and how does it work? PV materials and devices convert sunlight into electrical energy. A single PV device is known as a cell. An individual PV cell is usually small, typically producing about 1 or 2 watts of power. These cells are made of different semiconductor materials and are often less than the thickness of four human hairs. In order to withstand the outdoors for many years, cells are sandwiched between protective materials in a combination of glass and/or plastics.
To boost the power output of PV cells, they are connected together in chains to form larger units known as modules or panels. Modules can be used individually, or several can be connected to form arrays. One or more arrays is then connected to the electrical grid as part of a complete PV system. Because of this modular structure, PV systems can be built to meet almost any electric power need, small or large.
PV modules and arrays are just one part of a PV system. Systems also include mounting structures that point panels toward the sun, along with the components that take the direct-current (DC) electricity produced by modules and convert it to the alternating-current (AC) electricity used to power all of the appliances in your home.
How Solar Energy Can Lower Your Energy Costs!
Solar energy is sustainable, renewable, and plentiful. As the cost of using solar to produce electricity goes down each year, many Americans are increasingly switching to solar. Now, there are over a million solar installations across the country. Below are additional benefits of switching to solar electricity. Financial returns and lower monthly utility bills are major incentives for going solar. The exact savings you will see with solar depends on electricity consumption, solar energy system size, whether you purchase or lease your system, direct hours of daily sunlight, size and angle of roof, and/or Local electricity rates. A solar electric system provides an opportunity for anyone who is looking to reduce monthly utility bills and make a long-term, low-risk investment. A new solar power system is also a great start to a smart home!
Increased Home Value
Solar panels are viewed as upgrades, like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, so purchasing a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. Studies show that homeowners pay a premium for a solar home; one study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that on average, solar increased the value of a home by about $15,000. Although market factors like electricity rates and system size may impact the size of the premium, solar homes can sell for more than homes without PV. Learn more about solar and real estate. Paired with a new roof installation, the combination is sure to make substantial improvement to the value of your home!
Solar Works Everywhere
The solar resource of the United States is enormous. In fact, just one hour of noontime summer sun is equal to the annual U.S. electricity demand. Most states in the United States have good-to-excellent solar resource. Even places with relatively low solar resources, such as the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, can experience cost savings, and have similar solar resources to countries that have widely developed solar PV, like Germany.
Each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar that is generated will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions like CO2, as well as other dangerous pollutants such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Solar also reduces water consumption and withdrawal.