The Basics of Solar Energy And What You Need to Know
When looking for practical solutions to energy costs in the home, solar power is one of those choices that
little is actually known about.
Solar power is a renewable energy resource- the sun will continue to provide energy no matter how much we
consume - and it is free!
Two main types of solar energy systems for the home are flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors.
The flat plate collection system incorporates a highly absorptive metal plate with copper tubing, painted black
and mounted on an area for maximum exposure to the sun.
Facing south and at an angle of 30 degrees, water is circulated through the tubing by a small electric pump and
then to a storage tank for showers, washing and faucets.
A well insulated storage tank will keep the water even if the weather is cloudy for a couple of days!
The evacuated tube looks similar to the above from the outside, but the panels contain a series of glass tubes
which are evacuated and have very efficient heat conductors attached, trapping much more of the radiant heat.
These are more expensive and involve a heat exchanger in the hot water tank to be circulated in the home.
These systems often use more than one panel and the latest technology uses thermostatic controls to avoid the
possibility of the hot water being returned back to the panels and wasting pumping energy.
Claims that a hot water solar system can be a provider of up to 70% of
the homes water heating are made, and for most of the year this will be achievable but will depend also on what
temperatures you set your showering thermostat at in the first place.
When the decision is made to install a home
solar panel heating system you will need to consider several factors.
How many solar heating panels? How large a water tank will you need for the household? Where will this tank be
How will the pump be powered and will you use another renewable source of energy for this?
The biggest question you may have is where will the system be purchased?
Like all industries there are scammers looking to take advantage of the innocent, but many companies have been
in operation for decades and have up to date research to back their claims.
Basic systems can also be made by the moderately skilled DIY home owner.
The choice of solar power as a renewable energy power source has less of an effect on the landscape when
compared with the visual eyesores that wind farms can create.
They also mean less structural adaptation to the home and create no noise when in operation, so have many green
The only downside is the disposal of batteries needed to store the energy from the cells, but better technology
seems to be providing storage batteries with longer lives and less polluting material.
The future for renewable energy systems is that they will continue to drop in price as more and more people
adopt them and become increasingly more efficient.
The cost of installing solar water heating may also be
subsidized by your current utility company or state energy authority.
Most accredited suppliers will give advice on this when you are making a purchase.
As a source of power for the home owner, solar energy is well worth examining closely. Not just for the savings
you can make, but because it is one of the most eco-friendly options available.
This newsletter is only a very brief outline of some of the basics you need to know about solar energy so look
online for other contributions to the debate on renewable enrgy and make up your own mind - soon!
Have you ever thought about installing solar power but don't know where to start?