by Theen …
Solar energy is a general term that is used to describe a few different systems that use the sun as fuel. Over the years, all of these solutions have become more efficient and less expensive to allow the average homeowner to lower their monthly energy bills. These systems will enable you to replace the electricity, gas and oil you are currently buying locally with solar alternatives and save thousands of dollars a year as a result.
The most common form of solar energy involves solar photovoltaic panels that enable you to turn sunlight into electricity for your home. These solar power systems were initially used as commercial power generation equipment and have been adapted for use on your home in recent years. They are able to provide all the electricity your home requires and can eliminate your monthly electricity bill completely if you size your system correctly. This type of solar energy solution includes a set of solar panels that are mounted on your roof and convert the sunshine that strikes them into a small DC current. This DC current is then converted to an AC current that can be used in your home by a device called an inverter. The inverter then sends this solar power to your home during the day and allows you to use this free electricity instead of buying the power from your local utility. The inverter will also direct any excess power you generate that is not being used by your home back up the power lines to the local utility. This will create a credit for your home that can be used to offset any power you need to purchase for your home that evening.
Another great use of solar power is for heating the water you use in your home everyday. A solar hot water system is a great way to eliminate a conventional water heater and will supply all the hot water an average home requires. This type of solar energy system uses a thermal collector that looks similar to the PV panels used for harvesting solar energy for electricity, but differs slightly in its design. Inside the thermal collector is a webbing of small pipes that are exposed to the sun. The water from the home is circulated through these small pipes and heated with the sunshine before being returned to the home for use. In some solar energy systems this hot water is directed to a thermal storage tank in the home for use later. This ensures you have adequate hot water that evening if needed. Most of these solar hot water systems can supply ample hot water on sunny days, but also include a small backup water heater for overcast or cloudy days to heat your water when the sun is unavailable.
Solar heating is also a great use of solar energy and is becoming much more popular as energy costs increase every year. A radiant solar heating system operates in a similar fashion to a solar hot water solution and requires a series of solar collectors that heat a specialized liquid with sunlight. This heated liquid is directed to a thermal storage tank and then circulated through specialized radiators located in the floor and walls of the home when needed for heat. In many cases, both of these systems can share the same solar collectors to save you even more money on the cost of the system.
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