Solar Power – How does it Work?
In today’s world it seems everyone is obsessed with energy efficiency, and with good cause. Energy efficient living can help save the environment, and can help save businesses, and people, money on a daily basis. You can save a great deal of cash if you start to harvest the solar power that many of the top businesses have already tapped into. However, if you’re like most people, you’re probably still scratching your head wondering just how solar power works. The following is a brief overview of the functioning and applications of solar power…
First, you need to know that solar power has many different applications which include space cooling, space heating, generating electricity, and water heating. All of these different purposes are accomplished via the power of the sun. Of course, you need to be able to harvest the power of the sun first. In terms of residential applications, generating electricity is the most common way that solar energy is utilised. You have probably seen a home at some point in your life with solar panels, and these solar panels would have been hard at work collecting the energy from the sun.
Solar panels have silicon wafers inside, which are able to collect photons when the sunlight hits them. The photons that are harvested are then converted into DC electrical power, which in turn is pushed through an inverter so that it can be converted to AC electrical power. AC electrical power is the type of current that all of the appliances in your home run off, so with enough power from your panels you can create enough electricity to power your home. There are already thousands of people across the country that use solar panels as their main electricity source, or at least as a complementary source to help reduce their energy consumption.
Electricity is not the only application of solar power however; as noted above, it can also be used for water heating, space cooling, and space heating. Instead of utilising solar panels to collect energy for these purposes, devices called solar collectors are used. Solar collectors are flat boxes that have been painted black and coated with a non-reflective piece of glass. The boxes have pipes lining them that carry liquid solution throughout the box which is able to collect all of the heat.
Finally, if the boxes are being used for space heating, then the liquid is cycled through a radiator so that the air is warmed up inside. Similarly, if the solar power is being used for water heating, then the liquid is sent through the water tank to heat up the water. When space cooling is the object, then evaporation becomes the focus of the solar collectors, and solar concentrators are utilised so that the water temperature is cooled so quickly that steam is created. The steam is then passed through a home’s cooling system to help cool the temperature.