The 5 Most Common Uses of Solar Energy

There are many ways that solar energy can be used and it has been utilized for years. Remember those small lights that you could dig into the ground in your garden, and then at night they would automatically turn on? That is a prime example of solar energy just in a very small and basic form. Nowadays, solar energy using solar cells and solar technology in general, cover almost everything, from solar thermal energy to solar water heaters and solar cookers and, of course, a wonderful clean source of energy for the home instead of standard electricity. In this post, we will outline the 5 most common uses of this renewable energy source and how you can benefit from it.

Solar Energy for Heating Swimming Pools

Everyone loves swimming pools, don’t they? However, more often than not, they aren't used as much as people would like due to the cold temperature of the water. When winter arrives, swimming pools are usually drained and abandoned until the summer rolls around again. Traditional pool heating systems are very expensive to install and costly to run. For these reasons alone, only the super wealthy tend to have large swimming pools in their garden. Now that solar energy is gaining popularity heating, however, your swimming pool doesn’t have to cost a fortune and spike your utility bills. The most basic way to heat a swimming pool with solar energy is by using a floating blanket. These solar heating systems are passive heating devices which lie on the surface of the water and absorb the heat from the sun. The heat is then transferred to the water. For a more effective and high-tech way of using solar energy to heat a swimming pool, there is the option of a complete solar water heating system. These setups include solar panels for harnessing the sun’s heat and tubes that travel from the water up to the solar panels and back into the water. To heat the pool, the water is circulated through the tubes and passes the solar panels before entering the pool again. The pool water is gradually increased and, as it is solar energy, you don’t have to worry about the amount of energy used.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are probably the popular systems for harnessing solar power as an energy source. They are usually attached to the roof of a home where the energy from the sun hits the panel material and creates an electrical current. The generated current is DC, which is then converted to an AC current and can be used to supply a home with electricity. There are several variations of solar panels available that generate electricity and, due to the price, you should do your research first. The most popular model of solar panels doesn’t usually store energy unless there is an energy storage device installed. During the daytime, when the solar panels are creating electricity, anything that requires an electricity supply in the home will access the solar generated electricity. The additional electricity that is produced from the solar panels is usually sold to the nearest supplier who pays you for it in credits. These credits are used for the electricity you use at night or during the winter that comes from the supplier.

Solar Energy for Heating the Home

Solar Energy for Heating the Home

Heating homes with gas can be extremely expensive in the winter time and can cause financial struggles due to the dramatic rise in monthly utility costs. Solar energy can be used as a much more affordable way to heat your home. Solar heating comes into forms as a hot water solar system and a hot air solar system. The hot water solar power system is a large installation that uses solar panels to heat water which then circulates around the home to provide hot water from faucets and hot water to radiators. The hot air heating system works very much as you would assume. It heats air and circulates it around the home with a fan. This method is mostly used for warming individual rooms.

Solar Energy Chargers

Solar energy chargers are very popular, especially with travelers and holiday makers. There is nothing more annoying than going outside to find that your phone or tablet has died. Solar energy chargers are just like small solar panels with a USB port in it. Nowadays, almost every device is charged with a USB port which means that solar energy chargers can charge anything from mobile phones to speakers. For travelers, this is a major advantage as you no longer have to walk into cafes and ask to use a socket. There are also torches available that are powered by solar energy, and all you do is point the torch directly at the sun, and it stores a small amount of electricity. No plugs and no batteries needed. Like everything solar powered, as long as there’s sun, there’s power.

Solar Lighting

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned solar lighting for gardens. This was one of the first inexpensive types of solar powered devices and today that concept has evolved massively. Before the extent of solar powered outdoor lights were limited and was just small flimsy stick-in-the-ground lights that broke very quickly. On the market now, you can get full-sized solar powered street lights. They have solar panels attached to them which creates and stores energy during the daytime so that they can be powered at night. Again, this is an inexpensive way to incorporate solar energy into the home and it can reduce electricity bills if only by a small amount. Certain towns and villages around the world have invested in solar powered street lights, which is a huge environmental win—and hopefully, a trend that will catch on among other towns and villages.

The uses for solar energy continue to expand and recently even more investment has been poured into working on improving the efficiency of it further. Before making the transition to solar energy, make some inquiries about the different solar systems out there and do some calculations as to how it will benefit you financially. Then compare it to the cost of the solar energy technologies, and you will establish how long it will take to make your initial investment back and how much it benefits you financially. Influential people within the industry believe that it generally is the way forward and the most promising option for helping the environment.  

Laura Day

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