How Does Solar Power Work?
How does solar power work? It’s easy to understand if you think of how a sponge absorbs water. Solar panels collect the sun and turn it into electricity. When the sun hits certain materials, such as silicon crystals they begin to shift creating an electric current. When the crystals are hit with sunlight and stay in one place and vibrate, the result is an increase in heat.
Solar panels are made from glass that has been coated with a thin-film of light sensitive molecules. As the light strikes the panels, all of the molecules begin to move faster and faster, creating a flow of electric energy. This energy then travels along a pre-determined path and into generators that are able to produce massive amounts of electric energy and send it out to the citizens who use it.
The longer a panel is allowed to have direct sunlight, the more energy that is produced. Although energy is still produced when indirect sunlight hits the panels, it is much less viable and it takes more sunlight to actually transform the molecules into electric current. Power plants that run off of solar energy can push the electricity through generators that help to increase the voltage and power.
Different Uses for Solar Energy
Solar energy can be used to operate any number of items. Many items of different sizes are operated using solar energy and many of us don’t even realize it. This includes:
- Outdoor signs
- Ornamental yard lighting
Solar panels can be set up almost anywhere direct sunlight reaches. As long as the sun shines on the panels, energy can be created and used to operate any number of items just as if they had been plugged into a wall outlet operated by conventional forms of electricity. Whether the panels are grouped together to create large solar platforms or are used in small groups (like what is found on a home or small building), enough solar energy can be collected to run many electrical items for several hours.
Although solar energy itself, cannot be stored as we know it, it can be used to heat other materials (normally an alcohol-water mixture) that is circulated through a system where the heat is eventually turned back into an electrical current. Solar power has also been used in machines that condense the energy to create more power. As the power increases, it can be used in different ways to operate other electrical systems.
Solar Panels for Home Use
The United States has been encouraging the use of solar panels on homes for several decades. Although they work quite well, they are still not as popular as energy experts would have hoped. With the ever-rising cost of energy, many individuals are doing more and more research discovering that solar energy may be worth the cost. Solar panels are still quite expensive in many areas and, it’s for that reason that many homeowners have put off buying them.
The offset of the cost is a dramatic reduction in the amount a family would pay for their electricity each month. Four medium sized solar panels can produce the majority of the energy a family needs each day. As long as the sun is shining, energy is abundant. On overcast day, the amount of energy produced drops dramatically. Although some energy is produced even on overcast days, the amount is minimal at best.
Solar power is free and available on a daily basis. It does have its drawbacks, but for the most part is a convenient way for many homeowners to get cheap electricity for their home. Unlike hydroelectricity and other types of renewable resources, solar power does not have to go through a large power plant before it is sent out to be used in the community. Most solar units that are designed to provide electricity to a home are self-contained and do not rely on a large system to operate.
Each unit is self sufficient as long as the solar panels continue to provide the electric current received from the solar rays that are collected by the panels. Solar panels last for several years and do not need to be replaced unless they are damaged or broken in some way. Installing solar panels is a wise choice, especially for homeowners who have ample exposure to the sun.
About the Author
Becky Flanigan has lived near the beach since she was a kid. She gave up on surfing a while back, but enjoys walking the beach just as much as ever. Becky always enjoys the challenge of a new writing assignment.