Many people are not aware of the benefits that come with modifying home and garden to harness solar energy. I’m going to go through three categories – PV-panels, water heaters and finally passive building designs. Let’s jump in.
This article naturally starts out with passive solar building designs. What we mean by passive is that there is no outside work required for these systems to work.
What are passive designs? This can be anything from placing all your large windows (and the living spaces that are most used) to face the Sun to get drapes that are good at generating heat in sunlight. In the U.S., windows facing south would absorb most energy from the sun. In other words, free energy in form of heat and natural light.
Often just referred to as solar panels, photovoltaics are a set of devices that use the photoelectric effect to convert sunlight into electricity. How this works is very technical and will not be covered in this article.
PV-systems allow you to generate your own electricity. What this means is that you can reduce your dependence on the utility grid partially or even completely. Some people have used solar power to become grid-independent and supply themselves with all of their energy needs.
Not to be confused with photovoltaics, these are also called panels or more correctly solar thermal collectors. Instead of converting sunlight directly into electricity as PV-panels do, a solar thermal collector turns sunlight into heat, or more specifically hot water.
There are numerous ways to use this hot water, one of the obvious one being as directly as hot water. Since only one energy conversion takes place, these heaters can be quite efficient. In Greece, solar water heaters are obligatory on a large portion on new homes.
Solar thermal collectors can also heat water that is sent through a piping system in your house to heat a living space. Some systems can even help reducing cooling costs as well!
Where to go to now? Now that you got a brief introduction on a few of the many possibilities on how to utilize solar power in your home, you should contact local distributers/installers/contractors within all these areas and get more information.
Green trees and blue sky reflection on solar panels. Go green with renewable energy! image from BigStock.
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