Recommendations About Solar Energy

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Homeowners can ease into solar energy as their budget allows.
Homeowners can ease into solar energy as their budget allows. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

One of the biggest advantages of employing solar energy is the huge reduction of greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere on a daily basis. As people begin switching to solar energy, the environment will certainly benefit as a result.

Of course, the personal benefit of using solar energy is that it will reduce the monthly energy costs for those who use it in their homes. Homeowners can ease into this form of energy gradually and let their level of participation grow as their budget allows and their solar knowledge grows. Any excess energy that is produced will actually warrant a payment from the power company for a change.

Solar Water Heating

As a person eases into using solar energy, one of the recommended places to start is by utilizing solar energy to heat their water. Solar water heating systems that are used residentially include storage tanks and solar collectors. Presently, there are two basic types of solar water systems that are used. The first type is called active, which means they have circulating pumps and controls. The other type is known as passive, which circulates the water naturally as it changes temperature.

Solar water heaters need an insulated storage tank which receives heated water from the solar collectors. There are many models that actually have two tanks where the additional tank is used for preheating water prior to entrance into the solar collector.

Solar Panels for Beginners

Solar panels are units that acquire energy from the sun and store it for future use throughout a home. It wasn't that long ago that buying panels and paying an experienced technician to install them was an extremely costly endeavor.

However, nowadays solar panel kits can be purchased and installed easily by most anyone regardless of their technological background. In fact, many of them plug directly into a normal 120 volt AC power supply. These kits come in all sizes to fit any budget. It is recommended that an interested homeowner start by purchasing a relatively small 100 to 250 watt solar panel and evaluate its performance before proceeding further.

Advanced Uses of Solar Energy

While using solar energy to supply the power for home lighting and small appliances can be achieved by purchasing a few portable solar panels, using solar energy to heat a home is an entirely different matter. This is when the services of an expert should be called upon.

Using solar energy to heat the space in a home is achieved by utilizing a system of pumps, fans and blowers. The heating medium can either be air-based, where heated air is stored and then distributed throughout the house using ducts and blowers, or it could be liquid-based, where heated water is distributed to radiant slabs or hot-water baseboards.

Some Extra Considerations

Prior to embarking on a shift to solar energy, a person must realize that each home is unique and therefore has different needs. For instance, a home that is nestled in a forest will have a harder time using solar energy than one in an open field.

Finally, regardless of which solar energy route is taken by a homeowner, every home needs a backup energy system. Solar energy can be inconsistent at times.

References

  • "Power from the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity"; Dan Chiras; 2009
  • "Solar Power Your Home For Dummies"; Rik DeGunther; 2010
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