There has been a lot of focus on solar energy in recent times. To that end, increasingly more people are thinking about installing a solar energy system. But before they do, they often wonder what solar energy can be used for. There are many ways to utilize it, it is perfect for residential use, with many different practical uses within the home. While you can install a solar panel system on your roof to generate electricity for use in your home, there are other ways of harnessing energy from the nature.
According to the good folk at Vivint Solar, energy from the sun can be used for a myriad of applications in many industries. Below are a just few ideas:
Solar Water Heaters
Traditional water heaters are powered by electricity or gas, but it is possible to have your water heated by the sun. An active solar hot water system will include panels on the roof of your home that are connected to a mechanical circulation pump. There are two types of solar hot water system. A direct circulation system will pump water from the home through the collectors and then back into the home. This type of system is particularly useful in climates where freezing temperatures are rare.
Where freezing in winter is more common, an indirect circulation system is the preferred method. This type of system uses an anti-freeze liquid that is pumped through the solar collectors and then to a heat exchanger. At this point, energy is transferred to the home’s water supply.
Another type of solar water heating system is also available, which is known as a passive system. These do not have a pump but instead rely on the collector being placed either inside the water tank or directly below it to heat the water when the sun is shining directly onto the solar collector. A passive system is less expensive than an active system, but it is not always as efficient and tends to work better in warmer climes.
Instead of traditional ventilation fans that draw their energy from the electricity supply in the home, solar ventilation fans are equipped with a panel containing photoelectric cells. These cells absorb energy from the sun and then power the exhaust fan, helping to keep specific areas of the home cool. This fan is ideal for drawing warm air from spaces such as attics, sheds, and garages.
You can also buy free-standing solar fans for use in various rooms of the home during warmer months.
Individuals have been using solar energy for lighting the exterior of their homes for years, but these solar-powered lights are getting better all the time. Improvements in batteries and the inclusion of LED lightbulbs means that it is perfectly possible to have sufficient lighting outside the home from the Sun energy alone.
You can heat your home with solar energy, but it is important to be aware that this does require a significant outlay upfront. This type of system is similar to the active hot water system powered by solar energy but instead of the hot water being stored in a water tank, it is circulated throughout the piping system in the home supplying heat to the radiators or underfloor heating system. The benefit of this type of system is that it will not only provide heat for the home, but it will also ensure hot water in the faucets too.
Powering Your Appliances
By far the most common way to utilize solar energy in the home is with the installation of a solar panel system that generates electricity during the day when the sun is shining. These systems are designed to connect to the grid, enabling any excess electricity generated to be exported to the utility company.
Solar panel systems allow homeowners to make savings on their electricity bills because they can use the electricity generated by the panels to power appliances in the home. To make the most of these panels though, it is recommended that homeowners do not use more than one heavy energy-consuming appliance at a time. For example, it would be counterproductive to have the washing machine and tumble dryer on at the same time because you would be using more electricity than the solar panels are generating. By keeping energy consumption below the amount being generated by the panels, you are basically getting ‘free’ electricity.
Remember, these panels do not generate any electricity at night. On cloudy days, they will still generate electricity but not as much. If you are generating more electricity than you are using on a sunny day, the excess will be sent back to the grid; that is unless you have a battery system to store it for later use.
Why Go Solar?
More and more people are looking at ways of harnessing the sun’s energy for their homes. Installing a solar panel system or solar-powered heating system can be expensive, but the savings these systems could help you make definitely make the initial outlay worthwhile. As well as saving you money, these systems are also better for the environment. They do not cause any air or water pollution and, more importantly, do not emit any harmful gases.
As more people are considering solar energy for their homes, the price of these systems is decreasing as the demand rises. Right now, is an excellent time to look at getting a solar system for your home. You can even obtain a solar system with a back-up function that is designed to detect a power cut and switch the supply of electric from grid to solar back-up. This function is known as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and is done with a relay switch that is installed between the incoming supply of electric and your own main fuse board. When this switch is tripped, your home can continue to use electricity stored in the battery. If you are lucky, you may not even notice that there has been a power outage.