With energy costs on the upswing, many homeowners are wondering what solar power designs can do for them. The reality is these systems have come a very long way and can offset and even replace the need for a home to tap into electrical grids. Understanding how solar power systems work can explain why many are turning to this alternative form of energy to drive their home’s standard electrical systems.
Although the exact specifications of a solar system will vary depending on a home’s unique needs and its positioning in regard to the sun, there are a few basic items that will generally go into the design. They include:
• The solar panels – Solar panels are the driving force behind a home energy system. They are generally placed on the roof of a home to gain maximum solar energy during the day. In some cases, the panels might be set up on a dish system that resembles a satellite dish. The function of solar panels is to absorb the sun’s energy and transform it into direct current electricity for further processing and use. Solar panels are generally designed using silicon for maximum efficiency.
• The inverter – This device is one of the most costly portions of a home solar power system. The inverter is responsible for taking the DC electricity generated by the solar panels and turning it into alternating current, or AC, power. AC is the type of electricity that most household systems and appliances run off of.
• A battery or batteries – To ensure that solar power systems can provide the necessarily electricity when the sun isn’t up, a series of batteries is typically included in the design. The batteries take the AC power created by the inverter and store it for use at a later time. How much or little energy a battery can store will depend on the system in use.
Solar power systems for home use are most commonly designed to offset electrical use in certain appliances. For example, it is quite common for people to use solar power systems to heat water for swimming pools or even showers and cleaning. It is also not uncommon for solar systems to power washing machines or refrigerators. In some cases, however, homeowners create more elaborate systems that enable homes to run entirely or almost entirely off of solar power.
Solar power systems can help homeowners offset the expenses involved in using regular electricity. How efficient a system is will depend a lot on the size of the collectors, or solar panels, the amount of sun exposure available and the efficiency of the inverter and batteries. Even a small system, however, can take some of the burden off the electrical grid and put money back in homeowners’ pockets.