Solar energy is often seen as a technology of the future. However, consumer equipment capable of harnessing the power of the sun is available today, even to homeowners hoping to free themselves from reliance on fossil fuels. Despite the promise of solar energy, fewer than 1 percent of U.S. homes employ solar equipment, and only a tiny amount of those rely exclusively on this form of green energy.
Solar technology that is currently on the market makes it possible to use sunlight to heat homes and pools, and even to provide residential electricity. Those considering home solar systems know that they will be using a free and limitless source of energy that can be captured and used or stored whenever the sun is shining. The type of system to be used will depend upon factors that are primarily related to the location and physical setting of the residence.
The backbone of any solar system is the solar collector, a generic term that refers to the mechanism responsible for capturing the radiation generated by the sun. Concentrating-type collectors, which focus the incoming light, are useful in areas where the sun shines brightly most of the time. The more conventional non-concentrating collectors, which normally consist of flat plates, can absorb solar radiation from both direct and indirect angles, and are more beneficial in less temperate climates. The rooftop mounting of solar panels is widely accepted, although the units can also be placed atop carports, on poles and even at ground level.
One of the more established uses of solar energy is for the heating of water used in the home. Equipment used for such a purpose can either be passive or active. Less expensive and less complicated, the passive method allows for the direct heating of the water held in a collection tank. The active method employs a circulating pump and other devices to circulate the water itself or a fluid that will transfer heat to the water.
Though not particularly new, one of the most exciting technologies that has recently become available for home usage uses the principle of photovoltaics. A photovoltaic cell has the ability to convert the elements that comprise sunlight into electrons that can produce an electrical current. Residents using this technology may actually exceed their electrical needs, making it possible for them to sell this energy to the power company that serves the area.
Technological advances have also significantly reduced the costs of solar equipment, making it more inviting to the average homeowner. Lower energy costs and a desire for cleaner air may lead more Americans to consider investing in a residential solar system.
Head to Modernize.com to learn more about solar energy and if its right for your home.