Solar is a fairly new energy alternative in the market these days. And it has created quite a buzz for a very good reason. Solar is environment and budget conscious, and is beneficial to home value—just to name a few of its many benefits as a power alternative. Let’s take a look at solar panels and how they’re changing the face of energy efficiency in the 21st century.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is energy that is harnessed directly from the sun. This energy can be used to heat, cool, and light our homes just like energy that comes from fossil fuels.
How is This Energy Converted?
Solar power technology makes use of mirrors to reflect sunlight and concentrate it onto receivers that then convert this energy to heat, or thermal energy. These receivers are called photovoltaic cells. Once converted to thermal energy, this power can be used to produce electricity that drives a generator. This generator can then power the electrical appliances within the home.
How Big Are Solar Panels?
Solar panels come in varying sizes, but they mount to a home’s roof and stay nearly flush with the surface, keeping them from appearing bulky or out of place. A typical solar panel is about 18 square feet.
Why Use Solar Panels?
Solar panels provide many great benefits.
- Environment: Solar energy is infinitely renewable and therefore environmentally friendly. Solar panels have almost no impact on the global climate and do not produce dangerous emissions.
- Self-reliance: Solar panels lower your heating and cooling charges from your local utility company.
- Incentives: The U.S. government, along with many states, offer tax credits for renewable energy systems such as solar panels. Many utility companies do as well.
- Increased home value: Solar panels can often improve the value of your home by offering its inhabitants lower heating and cooling bills.
- Panels are flexible: If you decide that you want to move more of your power to solar, panels can be added at any time.
How Many People Have Solar Panels?
Currently only 0.6% of America’s total electricity is generated from solar energy. This number is expected to creep up to 1.6% by the end of 2015, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. With its limitless power and eco-friendly appeal, the popularity of solar can be expected to continue this upward trend.