Solar energy is becoming a widely used source of alternative energy. There are two types of solar energy conversion that can benefit the homeowner. Solar thermal and Photovoltaic.
Solar thermal energy is used to collect the heat from the sun and most commonly used as low temperature heating for swimming pools. Medium temperature collectors are typically used to heat water for residential and commercial use. High temperature collectors usually produce electric power by concentrating sunlight with a lens or mirror.
Photovoltaic solar arrays are the most commonly used method of collecting the sun’s energy and is also the most cost effective solution for homeowners to take advantage in energy savings. Solar panels for home use are a great investment, which not only saves the homeowner money but also actually can raise the value of the home. Additionally, if the solar power generated exceeds the amount of energy being used by the home they supply, excess power can be sold back to the utility company. With solar power being a renewable energy source though, there are variables that affect its performance, such as cloudy days and nighttime for example.
There are many options when considering solar power for home use. You can utilize a grid-tied system, which is the most common. In a grid-tied system, as stated above, the excess power gets cycled back into the power grid, which the utility company must credit to you. Grid-tied systems usually consist of the solar panels, a few wiring boxes, a disconnect switch and an inverter to make the power generated usable. There are many advantages in using a grid-tied system such as not having to setup an elaborate storage system of battery banks to store the power for nights or cloudy days, but also there are disadvantages when the power is not being stored such as blackouts still leaving you powerless.
Hybrid-solar generator systems are yet another option, most commonly used in remote locations or entirely off-grid homes. These systems are similar to grid-tied except they typically utilize a wind turbine or gas generator as well as solar panels. Battery banks are used to store power and these systems are often complex and require more maintenance. Also, these systems are quite expensive depending upon the circumstances surrounding the home’s need for power. In other words, when considering the cost of bringing grid power to a remote location, say atop a rural hill, a hybrid-solar power system coupled with a wind turbine might be a much less expensive option then paying for power poles and traditional power to be brought in.
Overall, solar panels for home use can be a viable and attractive option to many homeowners all over the world. The options today are much more advanced and efficient then most people realize. With the correct education, the option is there to even construct your own solar panel array, which, once completed, could provide your home with solar power for only a few hundred dollars.