Life on earth is fed by heat and light coming from the sun. Solar energy makes it way to us via electromagnetic waves similar to radio waves but on a totally different range of frequency. Some energy is lost while traveling thru the atmosphere, but the remaining is sufficient enough to maintain life and provide a limitless amount of free energy. To recover and transform this energy to a practical form like electricity or heating the main devices involved are the solar panels to generate electricity (photovoltaic) and the solar collectors to produce hot water or hot air. These units don’t rely on gas or electricity to operate as they are autonomous.
The most commonly used residential solar power applications are thermal. Such technology utilizes the heat coming from the sun for heating spaces and water. It can also be used for cooling spaces, ventilation, Desalination, cooking and many other purposes.
Solar energy is also used to generate electricity
A good example is the calculator with a small solar cell. Solar battery chargers are also available; they can recharge cell phones, Ipods, laptop computers and other small devices. Space technology is using solar technology since a long time. Solar panels known also as photovoltaic, transforms the sun’s energy to electricity. Residential solar power is also used to provide electricity for homes. In this particular case, solar panels are installed on the roof or on the ground. The electricity produced feeds a battery bank and an inverter provides 110 or 220 volts for the home. Other popular solar devices using solar technology are solar lights, solar fountains and solar pumps. These products are widely available and are a good example on how solar energy can be implemented.
Another widely used residential solar power application is the solar water heater
Solar water heating is not a new technology and implementation is straightforward. The system is made of solar collectors that heat the water when it circulates through tubes. Once heated the water flows into a storage tank and is available for use. The same system can be used for heating spaces. Solar collectors are also used to produce distilled water in this case the water is obtain by evaporation.
Although not considered as residential solar power, a less known application of solar energy uses what is called focusing collectors. The system consists of a movable mirror always following the sun. Heliostats as they are also called can generate extremely high temperature. Such systems are usually used for a solar furnace. Heliostats can also generate electricity by turning water to steam. The steam obtained can then run a generator.
All these different devices are allowing transforming the solar energy into useful and practical applications and solar power can be obtained using the above different ways. But most importantly, by using residential solar power technology and other clean sources of energy you are helping in improving the environment.
Maybe you’d like to live off-grid because you care about the environment and want to reduce your carbon footprint.
But there’s a problem…you live in an apartment, so you’re not about to invest several thousand dollars into solar panels for your home. What are your options?
Here are some ideas that can help you realize your dream of using residential solar power
- Invest in your own portable solar panels for your small appliances. If you have a window, patio, deck or balcony that gets enough sunlight during the day, you can get a portable solar charger that will collect the sunlight and store enough of it to recharge your laptop or power your TV. These portable systems will only provide an hour or two of use, though. And the cost of portable panels isn’t yet cheaper than running your laptop and TV off the grid. But they’re a good backup power source if you live in a place with frequent power outages. And they’re a great way to keep your rechargeable batteries fully charged.
- Talk your landlord into installing a solar panel system for the whole building. You might be able to get together with some neighbors and make a presentation to your landlord. This approach can be especially effective if your apartment building is located in a city or town where solar energy is popular and already being used. You’ll have to gather some data from the local utility company to find out what their policy is on buying back energy from solar installations, and how much money your landlord might save from installing solar panels.
- Do some research on state and local tax credits for installing solar energy systems. Also, find out if there are any other apartment complexes in your town (or even nearby towns) that use solar energy, and ask them how they market that fact to their future renters. The plan is to show your landlord that he can save money on utilities, and decrease vacancies because renters would rather live in energy efficient apartments. With a little research, you can come up with a presentation showing your landlord that using residential solar power is a good business decision.
- Make a point of seeking out apartment buildings and complexes that already have solar panels installed. You might be surprised to find out that there are apartment communities in your town that are ahead of the curve on solar energy. This is especially likely if you live in the “Sunbelt” area of the US, or if you live in a progressive-minded college town, or if your state or city offers attractive tax benefits for solar energy installations.
Even if you can’t live your off-grid energy dream right now, take heart. Solar energy technology is under rapid development right now around the world. That means your dream of better solar technology for lower prices is not far away. Click here for more info