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What is Solar Energy?

May 25, 2022

Solar energy comes from solar radiation. It is capable of producing heat through chemical reactions and can generate electricity. The amount of solar energy produced on the earth is believed to be in excess of the world’s current and expected energy requirements. But, we must learn to suitably harness it if we wish to satisfy our future energy needs with this highly diffused energy source. Fortunately, people from around the world are reconsidering their energy sources. As a renewable resource, solar energy has an inexhaustible supply and is non polluting. It becomes the best alternative to finite petroleum, fossil fuel, coal, and natural gas.

Solar Energy — Overview

The sun is arguably the most potent energy source in the world. Sunlight can be the most significant source of power the earth receives. However, its intensity on the earth’s surface is considerably low. That is due to the amount of energy lost in the distance between the world and the sun. Much sunlight energy is also lost to the clouds and the earth’s atmosphere. These absorb more than half of the incoming sunlight, leaving the earth with less than what the sun produces.

Still, the sun produces the most energy in the world and could someday be the primary energy source for domestic and commercial purposes across the globe. Traditionally, we rely on fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, and coal to satisfy our energy needs. But, these sources have significant negative impacts. For instance, they have played an essential role in producing acid rain and global warming. These have negatively impacted plants, animals, and human beings in their environment. Additionally, only a few nations have unlimited access to resources that produce fossil fuels. That has led to economic and political instability globally.

That is why people have been seeking alternative energy sources to satisfy their increasing needs without having to break the bank. The best option is and will always be solar energy.

Solar energy is a renewable energy source, meaning that it will never become unavailable. Reliability is critical for energy since we depend on energy to fuel practically all life processes. Solar power is unlimited. Thus, every person on earth will have sufficient energy to power their lives. With solar energy, we are all guaranteed a steady supply throughout.

Solar power is environmentally-friendly. It is a green energy source that does not pollute the environment during its production and consumption. It will keep our environment safe even as we enjoy limitless and inexpensive energy.

But, what exactly is solar power?

It is the fuel produced from the sun in light and heat forms. It is the most readily available energy source across the globe. Solar power is the most vital non-conventional energy source because it is obtainable freely, is in abundance, and is renewable. Solar energy doesn’t belong to anyone specifically. Therefore, it minimizes conflicts and the high costs involved in energy consumption.

Solar power has been in use for centuries, though in low consumption. People who have been using solar energy as an energy source have been using less complex magnifying reflectors to capture and concentrate sun rays into hot beams that can produce power. The hot beams are converted into electricity or heat energy, depending on the user’s individual needs.

Solar power is harnessed from sun rays. That can be done in two ways:

By the production of electrical energy

Millions of people worldwide rely on electrical energy to produce light and power for their everyday needs. Fortunately, solar power can be harnessed into electrical energy for commercial and domestic needs. We use Solar Photovoltaic devices (PV) or solar cells to convert the energy from the sun into electrical power. PV devices produce electrical power directly from the sun rays through electronic processes that naturally occur in specific materials called semiconductors. These materials contain electrons. The sun's rays loosen these electrons and then stimulate them to move through electrical circuits, sending solar power to an electric grid or straight to where it is needed.

How Solar Power is Utilized

You can use the direct power to power specific devices at home or office. Thus, this energy is sufficient to power calculators, solar watches, and traffic signals. People who consume solar power directly are those in areas that aren’t served by an electrical grid.

Through solar energy collector devices

Alternatively, you can use a thermal collector to harness heat from the solar. The collector absorbs the sun’s rays to produce power to heat water through hot water systems for commercial and domestic use. Today, many people use solar-heated water through hot tubs, water heaters, and heated ground pools.

Concentrated solar energy plants use more complicated collector devices to generate electricity by heating a liquid, which turns a turbine connected to a power generator. Simple collector devices are generally used in residential and commercial buildings for heating spaces.

Understanding AC and DC With Regard to Solar Energy

The solar power produced is convertible into electrical energy that can be directly and instantly utilized to power devices and lights. It can also be reserved in batteries and similar devices for later use. Remember that on some days, you can produce more solar energy than others, depending on the sun's intensity. Additionally, your need for energy varies from one moment to the other. Therefore, you will likely consume more power on some days than others. Storing solar energy in batteries for future use ensures you have enough even when the production is low or the consumption is high.

The electrical energy produced by solar cells is called the direct current, or DC. The safe power for our everyday needs is the alternating current or AC. But, you can convert the direct current, using an inverter, into the alternating current for your daily needs. But the solar power you convert into heat energy for heating water can be used immediately or reserved as heated water in hot water tanks for later use.

Active Vs. Passive Solar Energy

Solar power can be active or passive, based on how you capture and utilize it. Active energy uses heating equipment to change solar energy into heat energy. Passive energy does not have any mechanical equipment.

Active solar energy utilizes mechanical tools like thermal collectors, PV devices, fans, and pumps to trap the energy produced by the sun. Passive solar energy does not require any mechanical equipment. It converts the produced solar power into heat energy directly. Passive energy utilizes walls, windows, buildings, trees, and other easy strategies to capture the sun's rays for consumption. Thus, it is an excellent way to preserve solar energy. It also ensures maximum utilization of the captured energy.

How To Convert Solar Power Into Electricity

If we have to switch from the harmful energy courses we have been using for years to save solar energy, we must know how to convert the tapped solar energy into electrical power. That will make consumption easy for all, both commercially and domestically.

You will start by installing PV devices like solar cells or Photovoltaic cells to achieve that. Photovoltaic implies electricity and light. The cells will help you capture energy from the sun, and then you can convert it to electrical power.

Solar cells are readily available on the market today. They are made from materials that have a photovoltaic effect. It means that once the sunbeams land on the cells, the protons from the sunlight shock the electrons in the PV cell, triggering a flow of electrons. These will ultimately produce electrical energy.

You have to be careful when purchasing solar cells/panels today. There are many makes and models on the market. First, understand the choices available for you. The most common ones today are:

  • Polycrystalline— uses multi-crystalline silicon
  • Monocrystalline— is more suitable for smaller spaces
  • Thin Film— is technically larger in size and more efficient, especially during the day

The main difference in the standard solar panels on the market today is the materials used in their manufacture. For instance, polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels differ in silicon used in their manufacture. Monocrystalline panels have one crystal, while polycrystalline panels have several crystals. Solar panels with larger crystals are deemed more efficient.

How To Use Solar Panels

Solar panels are used to trap and concentrate sunrays for maximum solar energy production. As previously mentioned, the sun produces a lot of energy, but much of it is lost along the way. The earth receives less than half of what the sun makes. Thus, we must find ways to concentrate the minimal energy received on earth to generate enough solar energy to power our lives.

In that case, you must install solar panels in an area where you can maximize the concentration of sun rays. It should be open so that other installations or trees will not obstruct. That is why you see most solar energy consumers have their solar panels installed on their roofs.  The roof of your house is the central area of concentration when you receive sunlight. Therefore, you can mount your solar panels on the part of your roof that receives the most sun.

The next thing to do is to have the panels wired into your building via an inverter. Remember that the inverter is the device that will convert the direct current into the consumable alternating current. Your solar panels will produce direct current, which must be converted to AC to power your appliances. Most home appliances are designed to use alternating current. That is what you need the inverter to convert the direct current received directly from the sun into alternating current.

Before going through the installation process, ensure that solar power is suitable for your household or business. Come up with a valid reason why you want to start using solar energy instead of traditional electrical energy. Also, ensure that you receive adequate sunlight in your home, especially on the side of the roof where you will install your panels.

Additionally, ensure that you have adequate space for the installation. Solar panels are not typically small. Thus, they will occupy a significant space on your roof. But, the top of your building isn't the only space where you can install your solar panels. Some people prefer to use an open area in their backyard. If your roof is highly shaded, you might want to consider any other space you can use to mount the panels.

Lastly, find out about the laws available in your local area regarding solar installations. You want to avoid crashing with local authorities as much as possible. Therefore, follow any procedures to ensure that your installations are done legally.

Why Go Through the Trouble?

Solar power is readily available. It is inexpensive and will not run out. The greatest challenge in the world today is consuming enough energy without breaking the bank. Solar energy solves that challenge.

Solar energy will significantly reduce your electrical bills, thereby saving you a lot of money in a year. You also save money after installation due to its reduced maintenance costs.

You can consume solar energy without worrying about its effect on the environment. If you are keen on keeping the environment safe even as you go about your daily life, solar energy should be your primary energy source.

Installation of solar panels will also increase the value of your home. If you have a home, it is a valuable investment that could bring you greater returns in the future. Installing solar panels increases its value and could help you find a buyer quickly when the time to sell comes.

Find Reliable Solar Power Installation Services Near Me

Solar power is arguably the most inexpensive, reliable, and safest energy source globally. It comes with great benefits, including reduced power bills and reliability. Solar energy allows for diverse applications too and can be used for all your commercial and domestic needs. For more information and help with solar power installation in the Bay Area and Northern California, contact Sun Solar Electric at 707-658-2157. Our team is always ready to help you meet all your solar needs.

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