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.  

Proper List of Solar Power Pros and Cons

All power sources have their own pros and cons and solar power is no different. Due to the fact that solar power is a pretty hefty investment to begin with for generating electricity, it's definitely worth looking into the pros and cons so that you get a vivid picture of what it entails. Continue reading this list of solar power pros and cons to put things into perspective and help you decide whether investing in this renewable energy source is really worth it.

Cons

Starting this post off with the disadvantages of solar energy, here are the main downsides to getting solar power.

Expensive with Further Funds Needed for Solar Energy Storage

This is probably the number one concern with solar as a source of energy: the initial cost is not a small investment. Almost everyone struggles to come to terms with the start-up costs of incorporating solar power with good quality batteries into their homes; however, in the long run, you do end up saving money on electricity costs and help slow the speed of global warming. Living in certain areas could enable you to receive tax incentives for using solar powerand moving toward energy independence from the power grid and specific areas may even be eligible for government-funded schemes to bring down the price still further. There is, of course, always the option of financing. Having said all that, it is a substantial sum of money but an investment none the less. The other issue with solar power is the additional cost for energy storage. Without energy storage, the power generated can only be used in the daytime or when the sun is out. Energy storage quite literally stores the energy for consumption during the night but to include this, you will need to pay more money. What many people do when they have solar panels is to skip the installation of energy storage and instead sell their extra power generated throughout the day to a utility company. The utility company then pays that person in credits which are used for the use of the company’s energy during the night, saving further on energy bills. This option is, of course, the more cost-effective route; however, you are still somewhat dependent on a utility company, and those living in rural areas might not be able to take this route.

Space Is Needed 

Solar powered devices typically take up quite a lot of space. Solar panels are mostly installed on the roof, which makes it efficient for catching sunlight and also doesn’t interrupt any of the outside areas. However, the space that they do acquire on a roof is the majority of it. And, if you happen to need work doing on the roof, they will need to be disconnected and brought down. Other solar powered devices are usually installed on the ground but typically need to be in the most sun-exposed area of a yard which is more than likely the area in which the household likes to sit. Individual devices aren’t particularly pretty to look at either.

Weather Dependent

Weather Dependent


The fact that solar powered devices are weather dependent is probably considered both a pro and a con. The downside to being weather dependent is that the energy is going to be pretty sporadic on rainy or overcast days. Certain areas will benefit from solar powered energy a lot more than others. On the plus side, you will always have power as long as the sun is in the sky and even longer if you have sufficient energy storage in place.

Pros

So, what are the solar energy pros? Looking at solar power in a more positive light there are many benefits to having solar power in your home which many people feel outweigh the cons of it.

Eco-friendly

We are at a time where we need to do everything we can to take better care of the planet. It’s a scary thought of what will happen if it continues to be destroyed at the rate that it is going. A major benefit of solar power systems is that it does not cause pollution. As well as running very quietly, there are no harmful gases given off from solar power. In the home, this means that carbon monoxide is significantly reduced. When solar power is in effect, it massively impacts the dependency on the traditional non-renewable energy sources.

Reduces Electricity Bills and Boosts Property Price

At the beginning of this article, we discussed how the price of solar energy was a great concern for people and now we can look at how they also save money later down the line. No matter which system you choose, incorporating solar power into the home will save money on electricity bills. If you have an energy storage device put in place, you stand to save more.What’s more, you can always sell your excess power to the utility companies. On top of the money that you save on bills, having a home that utilizes solar energy can actually fetch more money on the market. Retail experts have said that solar panels can add up to $20,000 on to the price of a property which means that a large chunk of the initial investment can be made back should you decide to sell.  

Little Maintenance Required

Almost all of the solar powered systems available today require little to no maintenance what so ever. Sometimes, depending on the climate, residential solar panels may need a light clean a couple times throughout the year but that is pretty much it. Other than that, they are just left to do their job. Most solar power manufacturers in the United States offer a warranty that lasts from 20–25 years. That is a huge benefit for people investing in solar powered devices because, should anything happen after spending all that money, then you are completely covered.

There are, of course, many more advantages to solar energy but as you can see the pros far outweigh the cons. It’s vital that you take into account the climate of your area when purchasing solar powered devices as not everything is suitable for every region. Looking towards the future, we can expect some significant advancements within the solar power industry as a lot of nanotechnology innovation and quantum physics are set to transform the efficiency of this amazing energy source for the better.

How Does Solar Energy Work and How Do We Use It in Our Homes?

As the name suggests, solar energy is generated by the sun. But how does solar power actually work? This is a question many people are unsure of, but with climbing energy rates, more people are looking for a more affordable and sustainable energy source. Continue reading to find out what solar energy actually is, how solar panels work along with solar technology in general, and how solar power can be used in the home.

What Is Solar Energy?

The earth relies heavily on the sun. It warms us, grows our crops, gives us light, and so on. In fact, we have to be very grateful for what the sun provides us. Of course, the list doesn’t stop there. Those who harness the power of solar energy can even thank the sun for warm water, electricity, and heated homes without whopping electricity bills! The sun naturally produces “packets of energy” continuously because it is a natural nuclear reactor. Solar energy harnesses the sun’s energy to use privately or commercially. It is considered a renewable energy source that is the most sustainable form of energy, especially when compared to our current non-renewable forms.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

So, as we’ve established, the sun emits countless packets of energy every second that it's in the sky. These energy packets are called photons and they have the ability to reach the earth in around nine minutes, which is insanely fast considering that the sun is about 93 million miles away. In fact, scientists have said that the number of photons that reach the earth in just one hour, would be enough to power the world for a whole year, and we would never need to use fossil fuels again, theoretically speaking. Once the sun’s light hits certain materials, it forms an electrical current which is how solar energy is created and how it can produce electricity and heat homes.

Solar Water Heaters

A very common use of solar energy to generate electricity is the replacement of gas or electricity to heat water. There are two categories of solar water heaters, active water heaters, and passive water heaters. Again, there are more subcategories underneath these, but they are the two primary categories. Active water heating systems typically include a direct circulation or an indirect circulation process. Direct circulation makes use of a pump to push the water flow through the necessary collectors and pipes and into the home for use. The direct circulation model of the active water heater system is used mostly in areas that predominantly has excellent weather all year round or, to be more precise, in regions that don’t freeze during the winter months. As you may have guessed, the indirect water heating system is used, particularly in climates that experience freezing temperatures. The indirect water heating system circulates a non-freezing liquid through the water volume and through the heat exchanger which prevents the water from freezing.

Solar Water Heaters

Passive water heating systems are slightly less common but are much cheaper than active water heating systems. The price difference is generally because passive water heating systems aren’t as efficient as active ones. An integral collector-storage passive water system is built for climates that have warm weather all year round as the solar collecting specifications are built into the water tank. It heats the water throughout the day when the sun is shining, but the water can cool down during the night. These are mostly used for small apartments. Thermosyphon is another passive water heating system and it is designed for the solar collector specifications to be situated at a lower level than the water tank. Once the solar energy warms up the water, the solar collector rises in the tank. These are normally installed on rooftops which can make the installation a slightly lengthy process. 

Solar Panels

Of all of the solar energy systems, probably the most desired use for solar energy and getting off the grid is the solar panel. Almost every solar panel with solar cells is installed on the roof, which means that they won't take up ample space in the backyard and you will probably forget they are even there. Solar panels can be costly to install. However, there are many benefits to having them, and they could also increase the price of your house. When the sun’s light hits the solar panels and the solar cells, it generates an electrical charge (solar power). Then an inverter converts the current from DC electricity to AC electricity, which is what is used in the home’s main electrical panel. This current can then be used the exact same way as electricity from a utility company. Light your home, watch TV, charge devices, anything that requires electricity will now function from solar powered electricity. Better still, any excess energy from your energy storage can be sold back to your local electricity company.

Whole-House Hot Water System

This system works very similarly to the solar water systems mentioned above; however, they are on a much larger scale. Not only will a whole-house hot water system heat your water but it can also send hot water to radiators and underfloor heating. These intelligent systems have advanced circulation features which are needed in order to provide hot water for heating the entire home and hot water from the faucets. To accommodate these requirements, the setup is extensive and in-depth. It includes substantial water tanks as well as larger solar collector panels. Due to its capabilities, a whole-house hot water system is the more expensive option and is mostly used for businesses.    

Hot Air Solar Systems

To achieve whole-house heating by using solar energy a large system isn’t the only option. Hot air solar systems work by collecting the air that has been heated by the sun and strategically deploying it throughout the home. So, rather than heating a home from hot water being pumped around radiators, it is heated with hot air. Typically, these systems have a type of fan mechanism built in, which is what gets the air circulating, but hot air solar systems are most effective in heating individual rooms. 

As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate solar energy into your home and generate electricity through solar power systems, although not all of the options are suitable for everyone. That being said, there are plenty of available methods to start using renewable clean energy to dramatically cut the costs of energy bills and to reduce your carbon footprint.

A Simple Guide on How to Install Solar Panels

If you have taken the plunge and decided to start your journey along the path to eco-friendly energy consumption with solar power, you may be wondering about how to actually install solar panels. While the installation process for solar power is reasonably straightforward, there are definitely a few tips and tricks that can make the process a lot smoother.

Being Eligible for Solar Panels

Purchasing solar panels isn’t quite as simple as placing an order and waiting for them to turn up. You first need to have an engineer come out and survey your roof and work out how best to get your solar power. There are a few reasons for this, with the most important one being that the engineer needs to ensure that the roof faces in the right direction. Once that has been established, a specific solar pathfinder device is used to determine how many hours of the day the area will be in the shade. When the engineer gets up onto the roof, he can also take the measurements for the solar panels so that they can be created to fit the available space. 

Calculating the Tilt

If you have already had an engineer visit to calculate the sizing, then they might have already informed you about the necessary tilt angle. In an ideal setup, solar energy should hit the panels at a 90-degree angle. Solar panels can be fixed in different positions to achieve the desired 90-degree angle and maximize sunlight, so if an engineer hasn’t already suggested the tilt calculations, then you will need to establish this before you start installing them.   

The tools and Equipment You Will Need for Solar Energy

-    Alan keys

-    A drill

-    Safety harness

-    Helmet

-    A helping hand (you cannot do this alone)

Fixing the Solar Panels to the Roof

In most cases, panels for solar energy are fixed to the roof by the use of aluminum rails during installation. Once the aluminum rails are securely attached, you then need to fix the solar panels onto the rails. Start by fixing the lowest rail first and then working your way up as this will provide extra security should you slip. The exact length of aluminum rails required will depend on the number of solar panels you are installing. Each setup may be slightly different, but there will more than likely be several clamps and fittings for the ends and the center of the solar panels. For your own safety, wearing a harness is always advised and you should have some help as solar panels are too large to be moving around a roof by yourself.

Connecting the Solar Panels

Connecting the Solar Panels

During the solar installation, make sure that the electrical wire at the back of the solar panel is facing upwards to make the interconnection part as simple as possible. Once the bottom row of panels is inserted on the rails, you need to connect them together using the wires at the back of the panels. During installation, connecting a negative wire from one panel to a positive of the neighboring panel will create a series connection, whereas a negative-to-negative connection or a positive-to-positive connection will generate a parallel connection.

Power Bricks

When all the panels are connected together during the solar installation, they will also need to connect to shut off power bricks. In most cases, there will be a power brick for each row meaning that, if maintenance is needed on a specific solar panel, you don’t have to turn off all of the panels. Instead, you can just turn off the row that the damaged board is on.

The Power Inverter

The solar panel system will need to travel through conduits to an inverter located somewhere within the property. When the suns energy hits the solar panels and creates an electrical surge, it is originally a DC current. For the energy to be able to power your house, the DC current will need to be converted to an AC current which is done with the help of a power inverter.

Batteries – Power Storage

Not all systems have the ability to store electricity for use during the night. To enable this, you would need to connect specialized batteries to the system, which, again, will bump up the cost before the solar installation even begins. If you do install batteries to go with your PV panels, it is important to remember that they need to be replaced every five to seven years. They can also take up quite a bit of room. The most common option is to sell the excess energy created by the solar panels to an electric company. It usually works by the electric company applying credits to your account for you to use during the night. So, while all the electricity that you are using won’t have been generated from the solar panels—if you decide not to install batteries—you are still generating eco-friendly electricity that is being used in the community.

Is It Simple Enough to Install Solar Panels Yourself?

A precise answer to this question would all depend on the type of solar panel system you wish to get. The standard ones are much simpler to install, but the large or more advanced systems require a lot more electrical expertise and it may be better to get in one of the leading solar companies in your area. This is because certain wires may need to come through the roof into the house and several display boxes may need to be inside as well. That being said for the more basic solar panel editions there is no reason that you can’t install them yourself and save on cost. Just be prepared for the process to take quite a while. Professionals are able to get it done much quicker as they are used to the process, but for someone who is installing solar panels for the first time, it will take much longer.

Overall, the installation cost of solar cells is a one-time thing and could have you using the grid less and less to reduce your homes carbon footprint and save you money in the process. If any repairs need to be made or a new panel needs to be installed, then it doesn’t require the removal of all the panels. In most cases, all the panels won't need to be turned off as you have the option to just turn off the section you are working on. This is great as the work may take a while and at least some of them can still generate electricity. Speaking with solar experts will give you a clear picture as to what is required and the installation process. As mentioned, before you could install a small setup yourself, but for large solar panel systems, you will likely need to hire professionals.

5 Lesser-known Benefits of Solar Energy

​https://www.solaralliance.org/high-efficiency-solar-panels/​​​As you are all surely aware, there are many benefits of solar power systems in the home—especially reducing energy costs and minimizing our carbon footprint to help slow down global warming. These positives are widely broadcast and mostly cover the sustainability of solar energy, the money that is saved on the electricity bills, the low maintenance, and how eco-friendly solar is. On top of everything, there are several lesser-known benefits of solar energy that are still important, which we have identified in this post.

Enhanced Power Grid Security and Reduced Energy Loss

This advantage of using solar power systems for energy sources doesn’t necessarily benefit you directly, but solar energy and the solar industry massively help to improve the security of the power grid. If the grid harnesses solar power, it is more protected against voltage dips and blackouts. The more solar power sources that are used, the higher protection the grid will have from potential issues like overloading. Most of the time, the distribution of energy will result in energy loss. Although it is mostly in small amounts, it increases when the distance is greater between the energy production site and the supply point. These energy losses aren’t that noticeable, but it is still unwanted power wastage. This loss of power can be more noticeable in largely populated areas. With the incorporation of solar energy in the home, you become the production site and the supply site, which means the energy has minimal distance to travel. This results in little to no energy loss and skyrockets the efficiency of the energy usage.   

Health Benefits

Hardly anyone is aware of the benefit that solar energy has on your health. Particularly in large cities, pollution is becoming a rapidly increasing concern. The air is becoming dirtier containing numerous amounts of gas and harmful chemicals. Luckily, however, we aren’t yet at a point where we need to wear masks. If truth be told, however, our future could result in wearing masks if things don’t start changing. Looking at studies and research on solar energy that is already in place, it has lowered greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 17 million metric tons. Straying away from traditional fossil fuels and using solar energy for your home means no carbon monoxide equaling much cleaner and fresher air. 39% of the carbon outflow in the United States comes from buildings both residential and commercial so the more people that convert to solar energy the less carbon exposure there is in general.

Saves Money for Businesses

Saves Money for Businesses

Looking at the use of solar energy from a commercial perspective, businesses and farms would greatly benefit from using solar energy, and it would even significantly reduce their outgoings. Large companies, garages, farms, and warehouses usually have large buildings with an extensive roof capacity. They have plenty of room for solar panels that could generate substantial amounts of solar energy. For the most part, businesses operate during daylight hours so they wouldn’t need to invest in energy storage. They would use the energy that is generated throughout the day and would hardly need to import energy from the grid, which will dramatically cut down on running costs. As solar panels require very little maintenance, businesses can leave them to get on with their job. If more businesses were to incorporate the use of solar energy, the positive impact on the environment would be impressive. For anyone who might be considering solar energy for their business, being “green” is not only a great example to set, but it is also a fantastic feature for marketing your “green products or services”.

Less Water Usage

Yes, you read that correctly! Converting to solar energy can preserve fresh water. This is definitely a benefit that very few people think about when considering solar energy but it is still a very important one. Surprisingly, there is a risk of running our fresh water supply dry in the future— and that would be catastrophic for the entire human race. The traditional process of creating electricity uses a ridiculous amount of water that would be better off employed elsewhere. Processing fuel and refining it uses water—as does the transportation process. Water is also used to ensure that generators maintain a cool enough temperature. Solar energy is created by the sun, and only the sun, where absolutely no water is needed. Natural rainwater will fall onto the solar panels which lightly cleans them, and no additional water is used at all. It is a massively eco-friendly energy source that will take us to a greener and brighter future.

Goodbye Greenhouse Gases

Climate change is a big concern and governments and environmental organizations across the globe are encouraging people to do what they can for the environment and to be more conscious about their habits and lifestyle. The greenhouse effect, although it is a natural process of the warming of the earth's surface which makes it livable, has enhanced due to fossil fuel burning. There is now a much higher amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which has even been linked to causing extreme weather conditions such as flooding, hurricanes, cyclones, severe drought, and so on. The surface of the earth is heating up a lot faster than anyone could have predicted and in certain areas its wildlife is already struggling to accommodate the changes. Unfortunately, the danger of greenhouse gases is expected to worsen and now it is up to communities to start making a difference. Incorporating solar energy into households and businesses is the best way to start. Solar panel installation produces absolutely no greenhouse gases at all. The energy production is a natural process where no fuel is burned and zero emissions are created. To start reducing the greenhouse effect, we need to utilize alternative solutions to certain aspects of our current way of living.

Solar energy not only reduces the need to burn fossil fuels but it also reduces our reliance on them. It really is a two-way street.Solar energy benefits you personally and, in the long run, financially as well as being kinder on the environment and giving us hope for a cleaner future. The benefits listed above are some of the lesser-known advantages of solar energy but there are, of course, many, many more.

3 Solar Power Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

Most of us will have heard plenty about the obvious advantages of solar power and many will have even discussed some lesser-known benefits, without going into too much detail. Therefore, it’s time to get factual. Producing hard facts is far better than adding “could be,”“should do,”“might have been,” and “potentially”to everything we say about solar power. And, though words like solar cells, solar power systems, solar photovoltaic (solar PV), and renewable energy source may not sound like the most interesting things in the world, we have a few stories that are rather interesting indeed. Without further ado, here are three amazing solar power facts that will blow your mind!

1) So Much Power!

You’ve probably heard about how much potential there is for solar energy and the solar industry, in general. And, when you honestly look into it, you cannot disagree. To briefly explain how solar energy works, the light from the sun produces photons which are like tiny packets of energy. These packets reach the earth in around nine minutes, which is ridiculously fast considering how far away the sun is. What’s more, the sheer number of “energy packets” that the earth's surface receives is insane. To put it into perspective, the earth receives enough photons in just one hour of the day to efficiently supply the world with enough power to last a whole year—and that is no lie! When most people hear this, they struggle to understand why we aren’t making use of it yet, especially with concerns over global warming. In all honesty, however, we haven’t figured out how to effectively harness and store that amount of energy. For now, at least it is a fact that most definitely gives us hope for a future with clean, eco-friendly, and renewable clean energy through the use of solar systems. 

2) Water Purifier 

Water Purifier

This little-known fact is a fantastic benefit of solar energy. As humans, we all need water and simply cannot live without it. What’s more, solar energy can be used to heat water. Nothing new there, you may think. However, through solar energy, it can heat up contaminated water and the evaporation and condensation process makes it perfectly safe to drink. How? The simple evaporation process kills all known bacteria and germs making the water clean and, therefore, drinkable. Furthermore, ultraviolet rays are considered a germicidal, which, again, kills germs and parasites. Add this to the fact that the process is incredibly eco-friendly and it is a game changer for rural areas. Aside from the current expense of solar energy, imagine how it could transform the standard of living in developing countries. Many poor countries lack basic human needs such as electricity and clean water. Worse still, drinking contaminated water is one of the most common causes of death around the world. And when you think that many developing countries have very warm climates, you know that solar energy would work perfectly. Solar energy could be a true savior for so many people!

3) It Offsets the Production of CO2  

Just how amazingly eco-friendly solar power is can quite literally be shouted from the rooftops. However, while many people understand that it is a very green source of energy, they don’t necessarily realize just how much of a difference it can make to our planet. Solar power not only lowers the need for fossil fuels but it significantly reduces the production of harmful emissions. A rooftop solar panel system has an average life expectancy of around 28 years and it has the ability to generate anywhere from 40% to a staggering 100% of a household’s electricity needs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar power could offset the production of around 100 tons of carbon monoxide (CO2) during its 28-year-life expectancy. Not only that, but it can also offset one-third of a ton of nitrogen oxide as well as half a ton of sulfur dioxide. These figures are based on a single household's usage that also receives a two-year energy payback. In the future, if people continue transitioning to solar power, imagine the number of reduced emissions. These facts alone should be enough for almost every homeowner to go solar.

Some Fun World Facts

Once you have established the true potential of solar power, it’s both fascinating to understand its strengths but a little worrying to think about why it isn’t being used more. To give you peace of mind, we have found some pretty interesting information about solar energy and how it is rapidly becoming utilized around the globe.

Rest assured solar energy is most definitely being used. So, read on! Tamil Nadu in India has the largest solar plant in the world. It covers an area of 2,500 acres and includes 2.5 million solar panels. You read that correctly. 2.5 million! The plant cost around $679million and can generate enough power for 750,000 people. A fact favorite regarding the largest power plant in the world is thata solar-powered robot cleans the site every day!Total solar success! Prior to the completion of the solar plant in Tamil, the largest plant was in the Mojave Desert in California which covers an area of 1000 acres.

Furthermore, the impressive Mineirao stadium in Brazil was where the 2014 world cup was held. It was kitted out with 6,000 solar panels and was the world’s first world cup stadium to be completely powered by solar energy. 

You have all heard that a baby is born every second somewhere in the world. Well, we can now top that. Almost 100,000 solar panels are installed around the world every hour. That is the equivalent to about 1000 football fields being filled with solar panels every single hour!

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, built the world’s largest battery which, you guessed it, is completely solar powered. The battery is situated in Australia and can power around 30,000 homes for up to an hour. Tesla built the battery in just 100 days and its capacity is a staggering 100mw. Rumors are spreading that they might try and outdo themselves further still, but we will have to wait and see. Imagine the entire world running on batteries!

There is already solar-powered transportation available including cars and trains, but that capability also extends to airplanes as well. In 2016, Bertrand Pic card flew a plane that ran entirely on solar power around the world. His efforts alone have demonstrated the true potential of solar power and, once enough money is invested in it, air travel will change for the better.

As you can see, solar power and its potential is truly outstanding. The hard facts that back it up are undeniable and the incredible breakthroughs that have happened around the world are astonishing. In the coming years, solar energy is expected to advance even further, and prices are predicted to drop sharply as demand continues to grow. The demand for solar energy today is at an all-time high and will likely only increase with time.

Solar Panel Controller: How to Choose a Solar Charge Controller in 2018

Theoretically speaking, installing a solar system at home is straightforward. You need a couple of 12-volt solar panels,and you connect them to a battery. In between these two key elements you need to have a solar charge controller. This ensures that when the battery needs charging, current can easily flow to the battery and when it is full, it automatically disconnects from the solar panels.

What is a Solar Charge Controller and Why Do You Need One?

A solar charge controller is a crucial element that makes sure your solar system works correctly. Finding a good quality one does´t have to be complicated or expensive. It is important to remember that the solar charge controller you select is going to entirely depend on the capacity you need and how your actual system is set up. In this article we will be looking at the three top solar charge controllers available on the market, to help you decide which one will be best suited to your needs.

So, Let's Do the Math:

Commonly, PV panel charge controllers come in 12, 24 or 48 volts. Amperage ratings will be between 1-60 and voltage ratings 6-60. Now if we assume that your solar system was 12-volts and your amps are 14, you will need a controller that has at least 14 amps to be able to work properly.

If like me,however, you aren’t a fan of doing the math, then it’s a good idea to spend some time doing some research of your own on each individual product listed and if they would work for your solar system. Thankfully, there is a multitude of forums online that can answer your questions!

Here are the top 3 Solar Charge Controllers of 2018.

Renogy Wanderer

Renogy Wanderer

Price Range: $

Renogy have gained an excellent reputation for the standard of high-quality solar equipment they manufacture. They were amongst the first companies who brought the latest technology in high-efficiency solar panels to the consumer market and if efficiency is a priority for you then look no further than Renogy.

Features:

The Wanderer is one of the most affordable negative-ground controllers around. It offers complete protection from overcharging, short-circuit and overload as well as reverse polarity. The cleverly designed 4 stage PWM charging system is there to prevent your batteries from over-charging as well as over-discharging. You can easily see the solar charge controller’s status at any time during use via the featured LED indicators. This is one of the most versatile solar charge controllers available,and it is compatible with Gel, Sealed and Flooded batteries.

PROS:

  • One of the safest solar charge controllers you can buy
  • Extremely affordable at just under $40
  • The Wanderer corrects charging and discharging parameters automatically, thus improving the longevity of your battery.
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    Easy to use
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    Excellent customer support

CONS:

We didn’t find any drawbacks worth mentioning, making the Wanderer an excellent choice at a low and affordable price.

Windy Nation P30

Windy Nation P30

Price Range: $

This compact and affordable product from solar manufacturing giants WindyNation will deliver heightened efficiency to your solar system. It uses a unique charging technique that Works to increase the longevity of batteries,and with all of its features combined, it can work very efficiently.

Features:

One of the features we like most about this solar charge controller is the fact that it automatically maximizes solar power production in line with battery charging. It is equipped to withstand up to 30 amps of array current and ensures that your battery will always be properly charged.

Pros:

  • Can be used to charge 12 and 24-volt batteries
  • Very affordable
  • Electronic protection against reverse polarity, over current, extreme temperatures and short circuits
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    12- volt batteries will always be kept fully charged for optimal functionality
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    LED clearly indicates battery charge and load status

Cons:

  • It is not water resistant
  • Some customers reported frequent failure of the device
Solar Epic 40A Charge Controller

Price Range: $$

An extremely popular choice among off-gridders worldwide- the Solar Epic charge controller is epic! And while this product is on the more expensive side compared to the other items mentioned in this article, the countless positive reviews it has received means it is clearly well worth spending the extra bit of cash.

Features:

This all singing, and all dancing solar charge controller comes highly recommended by people who live entirely off-grid. It is built to last, offers excellent quality, and is easy to use.

Pros:

  • Inbuilt smart tracking algorithm maximizes the energy produced by your solar panel (s) while simultaneously charging the battery
  • Low voltage disconnect stops the battery from overcharging or discharging
  • Optimized charging process to preserve battery life while improving system performance
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    It can communicate with other solar accessories
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    Features 4 different charging options: sealed, gel, flooded and user-defined

Cons:

  • It falls into the higher price category

Conclusion:

As you can see, there are some incredibly affordable solar charge controllers available on the market this year,and many of them are so well priced, that you can buy one that is going to definitely meet your budget- no matter how limited that might be.

However, when you consider what you actually get for the price you pay and the difference in quality between the cheaper and more expensive products, it's clear that you would be better off spending more to get more.

If you need a basic controller, then don’t waste money on all of the bells and whistles that you will likely never use. If you want a product that is going to last a lifetime and has been designed to be robust and durable, then you are going to have to spend more money.

Take some time to consider your needs and make sure you understand what the necessary essential components are before rushing to buy one,and you will be all set to enjoy joining the world of living off-grid!

Plug In Solar Panels: Why Are Plug In Solar Panels Alluring?

Since solar panels have become increasingly popular over recent years, hundreds of thousands of people are becoming more interested in switching to solar power for their household or business. There is only one major factor of going ahead with a complete rooftop solar installation,and it is that it can be a costly investment when you consider installation costs as well as the actual equipment needed to power a home.

As technology evolves and becomes more simplified, plug-in solar panels are becoming increasingly appealing- especially for smaller households who want a simple and easy solution to all of their power needs. You simply plug in your solar panels to the nearest power outlet,and you can now laze around the house all winter long with the heating on, without having to worry about harming the environment or crazy high electric bills.

While this sounds like an ideal solution that we should all be opting for, is it too good to be true? And more importantly- is there enough demand to make plug-in solar panels a mainstream power solution?

Why are Plug-in Solar Panels Alluring?

Let’s take a look at what makes plug and play solar panels so desirable to determine if they are a worthwhile investment for you.

No Professional Installation Necessary

This is clearly one of the majorly attractive points about plug-in solar panels because as we mentioned earlier, most people don’t have the extra funds stashed away to pay for the installation of already costly solar panels. With plug-in panels, , you don’t need an electrician or an installation expert to fit the panels.

It’s worth remembering that with traditional rooftop systems, the actual panels themselves and the wiring account for just 40% of the total cost. So if you are looking to keep costs down, yet still enjoy the benefits of going solar, then plug in solar panels could most definitely be the ideal solution for you.

They are Portable

One of the biggest problems that people who go off-grid with solar power experience is the hassle of moving. While it’s unlikely that anyone would choose to install an entire solar panel rooftop system in a rental property, if you are a homeowner and you need to sell, you could be facing a ton of hassle to move the solar panels. With plug-in panels, you can unplug them and take them with you easily.

They Will Save You Money in the Long Run

They Will Save You Money in the Long Run

Solar panels offer so many benefits; it’s difficult to list them all. One of the most appealing features of investing in a plug-in solar panel system is that over time you are going to save a ton of money. There is nothing worse than sitting in your living room shivering despite the layers of clothing you have put on because you are worried about your heating bill. With solar panels, you can enjoy free clean energy forever.

Be Totally Self-Sufficient

Plug in solar panels offer you the opportunity to become completely self-sufficient with regards to your electricity and hot water needs. Even though the panels need to be plugged into the main source of electricity to operate properly, unless there is a huge power outage in your area, they are a reliable source of energy that anyone can now enjoy.

Kinder to the Environment

Even if you are fortunate enough to have enough money to leave your air conditioning or heating on 24 hours a day, you are probably aware of the effects this has on the environment. With solar panels, you won’t have to worry about contributing to the ever-growing concern with regards to pollution, as they only produce completely green environmentally friendly energy!

How Does Plug-in Solar Work?

Going solar doesn’t have to be complicated. One of the things we love most about plug-in solar panels is the fact they are just so simple to install and use. Essentially, the only thing you need to do is plug in, switch on, and put the panel in a sunny location. That’s it! The panels allow electricity to move through a system of safety disconnects and inverter, instead of the electricity going straight into a wall outlet.

Are They Safe?

Overall, yes. You have to take into account that with a rooftop solar system installed by a solar company is going to be a more detailed setup and they are designed to stop themselves overheating or catching fire.

When you buy a plug-in solar panel system, you have to understand that you don’t have maintenance engineers who can come to your rescue in an emergency. If you can be responsible enough to keep an eye on your solar panels and follow the instructions included in the package, then there should be no issues whatsoever with safety.

Conclusion

Plug in solar panels are definitely a financially viable option for those who want to experiment with green energy. If your aim is to power your entire house with solar energy, then it might be in your best interest to have traditional solar panels fixed onto your roof. That said, having just a small amount of green energy in your home is always going to offer you the benefits of being kind to the environment as well as cutting back your electricity costs each month.

For example, plug-in solar panels would be able to power all of your hot water, which will still make a significant difference with regard to your monthly bills. The simplicity of them is certainly a major factor contributing to their popularity, as anyone can set them up quickly and easily.

If you care about your carbon footprint and you want to save money, then you should definitely give plug-in solar panels a try. Even if you change your mind in the future, you will easily be able to sell them to someone else.

Panasonic Solar Panels: The Complete Review for 2018

Panasonic is one of the most well-known brands in the entire world. When we think of electronics of any kind, Panasonic springs to mind. But aside from making televisions and sound systems, Panasonic has also become one of the powerhouse leaders in the field in the production of high quality and high efficiency solar panels.

In light of the fact that more people are looking to convert to solar energy, we have prepared a detailed explanation of everything you need to know about Panasonic solar panels in 2018.

Panasonic HIT Range

Back in 1997, Panasonic released their HIT range of highly efficient solar panels. They are made up of crystalline cells covered in minuscule layers of a special kind of silicon that makes them super efficient and effective. Up until recently, the manufacturing process of the solar panels all happened in Japan, Panasonic’s native country.

That is until Tesla heard about their new technology and opened a joint factory with Panasonic in the US, so they could produce all of the panels for the Tesla solar project. There is now talk of an even more advanced solar technology being releasedin the near future, which is a result of the Tesla and Panasonic partnership.

How Efficient are Panasonic Solar Panels?

Given that Tesla, one of the biggest energy giants on the planet, has built a factory to have Panasonic working alongside him is a good indication of how efficient and reliable the new Panasonic HIT range solar panels are. They have even recorded results that soar above the standard 20% efficiency level.

Which Cell Technology Do They Use?

The HIT cell structure that has been developed by Panasonic is unique and efficient. It uses both amorphous and crystalline technology to retain the power that is often lost when using traditional crystalline cell technology. HIT technology makes it possible for the solar cells to be leaders in the market when it comes to temperature efficiency. Thus Panasonic solar panels have been proven to experience minimal power losses compared to other products available on the consumer market.

Panasonic Solar Panels: Advantages

Panasonic Solar Panels Advantages

A customers’ biggest concern is often the fear that their solar panels will stop working after a while and they will have wasted a ton of money. This is without question one of the biggest factors that stops people taking the plunge with regards to going solar.

Fortunately, Panasonic believes in their products so much that they now offer a 25-year guarantee on their solar panels. After 25 years, their HIT modules have been designed to retain at least 90% of the maximum capacity they can generate. This is just one step behind the Sun Power X panels that are the industry leaders in solar power in North America.

The joint factory that Panasonic has with Tesla also means that customers will receive solar panels that have been manufactured on American soil, so you will never have to worry about your warranty not being valid or lengthy wait times if you need to replace one of your panels. When you take into account all of these factors, it is clear that their prices are also very competitive, especially the cost of their premium panels.

What About the Disadvantages?

While the HIT solar panels are competitively priced, they are still considered to be relatively expensive. This is what tends to put many customers off, especially first time buyers who want to switch over to solar power in their households.

When HIT technology first came out, it was considered to be a pioneering technology in the solar world. Unfortunately, technology evolves so quickly these days, which may mean that the once groundbreaking technology is in danger of being put on the backburner due to aging.

For the moment, HIT technology supplies the solar panel market with excellent efficiency levels as well as good quality panels, but newer technologies might eventually leave HIT behind.

Why Should You Choose Panasonic HIT Panels for Your Home?

If you are looking to install rooftop solar panels that can match the most respected brands out there with regards to warranty and quality, then Panasonic HIT panels will be an excellent choice. While they can be seen to be expensive, you have to remember that the savings, in the long run, will more than makeup for the initial financial outlay and Panasonic panels aren’t going to break the bank.

The presence of these solar panels in the industry is one that will last at least a medium term, given their partnership with Tesla. Who by the way, could have chosen any other manufacturer on the planet to team up with, but they specifically selected Panasonic.

Therefore, if the Panasonic HIT solar panels are good enough for Tesla, they will be more than adequate to satisfy the needs of the average consumer who wants to invest in high-quality solar panels.

Conclusion

Panasonic solar panels allow you to pack a whole load of power onto your roof. They are robust, weatherproof, and are the ideal solution to freeing yourself from expensive electricity bills each month. The solar panel market is highly competitive, with new technologies and brands emerging every day.

Before installing any solar system, it is important to do your research to be sure that the products you are interested in buying are not only going to meet your budget, but also produce enough power to supply your family’s needs. While there are cheaper products out there, which might seem alluring in the beginning as no one wants to fork out a lump sum of money in one go, longevity and efficiency are key factors with regards to the performance of your panels.

There is no point cutting corners and trying to save money, only to find yourself sitting in the pitch black in the middle of a winter storm because your solar panels have packed up. These panels are also designed to perform in low light conditions,and the inbuilt water drainage feature on each panel stops water accumulating and damaging it in rainy conditions.

MPPT vs. PWM: Which One Is the Best for Your Solar System in 2018?

If you have a solar power system that is battery powered, you are going to need a solar charge controller. They are an essential piece of equipment responsible for regulating the power that flows from your rooftop solar panels to the batteries that power them. One of their main tasks is to make sure that the batteries charge to their maximum capacity, as well as preventing overcharging and over voltage.

The solar energy market offers a wide range of solar charge controllers to suit a variety of different needs. At the very basic level, a solar charge controller is responsible for monitoring the battery voltage,and as soon as it reaches boost voltage level, the device regulates the charging current to maintain battery voltage at the boost voltage level.

Many new solar customers find themselves getting confused and overwhelmed with all of the technical lingo flying around in the world of solar energy. With such a huge variety of different products available it can be difficult to choose which product is going to be exactly right for you.

In this article, we are going to break down all of the technical stuff and explain the differences between MPPT and PWM solar charge controllers and look at their respective pros and cons to help you figure out which one if the best for your solar system.

MMT vs. PWM Controllers

Solar charge controllers are available in two different technologies, PWM and MPPT. While both have their benefits; an MPPT solar charge controller has been proven to be far more efficient than a PWM controller.

The Benefits of a PWM Solar Charge Controller:

A PWM solar charge controller offers a simple user experience, combined with a proven, time-tested design. It works through transmitting a series of short charging pulses to your battery,and the charge controller will continuously check the charging state of the battery and automatically adjusts the pulse signals to match it.

This type of solar charge controller is typically used for solar systems installed in RVs and motor homes that use 12-volt solar panels. The benefits of choosing a PWM solar charge controller include:

  • Their design is proven to work
  • They are cost effective
  • They are designed to be durable

There are some critical cons though, including an inherent flaw in the design:

  • They are less efficient than MPPT controllers
  • They are less powerful
  • The pulse signals can cause interference with the radio or TV

Unless you are already familiar with PWM controllers, then you might want to consider the alternative, which is the MPPT solar charge controller.

The Benefits of an MPPT Solar Charge Controller

The Benefits of a PWM Solar Charge Controller

MPPT controllers feature the latest technology,and they are currently all the rage. And for a good reason! This type of solar charge controller offers users with an excellent combination of the most effective features of a PWM controller with even more functionality- kind of like a PWM controller on steroids if you want to think of it like that.

They are newer, better and more efficient with a whole host of benefits such as:

  • An exceptionally high-efficiency rate
  • They provide around 30% more power to the battery in colder weather
  • Compatible with a range of panels that have different voltages
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    They offer more flexibility with regards to the type of solar panel you buy
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    Provide better flexibility with regards to system growth
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    Provide 4-stage battery charging for optimal safety

Nothing in life is perfect, however, and there are also some cons- only two to be precise:

  • They are much bigger and can be bulkier
  • They are more expensive

It is pretty obvious even to someone with zero experience in solar panels that the pros of an MPPT controller’s efficiency significantly outweigh the cons! If you are one of the lucky people who get to enjoy solar power year round and size or budget isn’t an issue for you, then definitely invest in an MPPT controller.

However, if you have a small system and only use it on weekend trips a handful of times, then you can save yourself a larger financial investment and opt for a PWM controller.

The great thing about solar energy is that it is the epitome of flexibility and you can start as fancy or simple as you like with regards to the equipment you buy when you are just starting out as a clean energy user.

Further Considerations

Now that you have gained a clearer insight into the differences between the two types of solar charge controllers, you can sit down and think about the make and model of controller you are going to choose.

When selecting a make, there really isn’t a right or wrong, but it’s always going to be a good idea to choose a brand that is recommended and that have genuine reviews online. The most reputable solar companies include:

With regards to selecting the right controller for your needs, make sure you choose one appropriate for the solar system you plan on installing.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t have a tight budget, then we recommend choosing an MPPT solar charge controller for convenience. The fact that they incorporate much newer technologies into their operating system means that they are designed to keep up with an ever-evolving solar energy market.

Another important factor to consider before making a decision is efficiency. MPPT controllers have been proven to be more efficient, although they are not as simple to deploy as PWM controllers. Whatever your decision will be, with a booming online marketplace for solar power equipment and accessories, you will definitely find an option that suits your lifestyle as well as your budget.