Solar Energy

The use of the sun's energy is all encompassing and can be used in several different ways. However, in the context of the following pages we are only considering Photovoltaic and Passive Solar Heating. Solar Furnaces, Parabolic Collectors, and some of their uses, are mentioned briefly in the Section on OTHER Energy. This is because they tend to exist in the realm of big business and require large set-ups with very high investment to get up and running. This section deals with the sort of Solar Power that can be invested in by ordinary home owners.

In the case of Photovoltaics, the energy in the sun's rays is used to change the electron configuration in chemical combinations layered inside a special glass box, that is either fixed to a stand or to the roof of a building. The reversible change in the chemical produces an electric current which can either be passed through an inverter: to be used immediately in the house; or passed on to the Grid; or can be stored in accumulators (batteries) for later use when needed to power appliances in the home.

Passive Solar Heating refers to placing a substance, usually water, in a location where it can absorb the heat from the sun. Then either using the hot water directly, or passing it through a coil in a water tank, so that the sun's heat is passed on to the water in the house's hot water tank and to a larger storage tank. This type of solar panel will be more effective if it is not in the wind. Therefore mounting the panels on a stand in a sheltered garden, or yard, is a definite consideration.

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