Harnessing the sun’s energy to power our homes is no longer a futuristic concept. With big technological leaps in the field of solar energy, there have been incredible developments in terms of efficiency. Residential homes, corporations as well as universities are switching to solar energy, making green energy a practical solution.
Solar energy has evolved from portable hand-crank flashlights and now can power entire residences. An increasing number of appliances have opted to create a solar version due to its growing popularity. As such, solar energy has now become extremely versatile.
Uses of Solar Energy
As the solar industry expands, it is quickly touching a variety of sectors. Green energy is in and, there are multiple developments underway for solar energy. This creates many avenues for this renewable energy to venture into. We have detailed the top uses of solar energy as follows:
1. Solar Electricity
One of the leading facets of solar energy has been solar electricity. The costs for these solar panels have dropped by over 60% in the last decade. This has allowed for more developments and experiments with solar panels and increased overall efficiency. It has also made solar energy more widely accessible.
While the overall electricity generated via solar has still remained at 2% of the total output, there is a rapid increase in the installation of solar electricity across households in the USA. It allows for efficient and hassle-free energy with next to no operational costs.
A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is installed onto your rooftops, the energy generated by these are then utilized to power your house. Due to net metering, any excess production is sent back into the electric grid. This way, you can benefit both financially as well as by receiving additional energy via the grid.
2. Solar Heating
Another solar usage that is growing in popularity is a solar-powered heating system. These generally work by pairing solar energy with a forced hot air system. This generally has to do with active solar energy.
The mechanics are simple. These air collectors heat the hot air that is trapped inside using the solar heat. This hot air is then dispersed indoors. This can be a very efficient way to heat up your house without having to pay high heating bills.
Similarly, most houses are being constructed with a passive solar heating structure in mind. This means using materials with a high thermal mass such as ceramic tiles, stones, bricks, and concrete during construction. During the day, these will then retain the heat collected throughout the day, keeping your house warm during the night.
3. Solar Water Heating
The use of solar energy has been extensive in the field of water heating. This can cover two main areas: water heating inside the house for showers or water heating for your swimming pools.
Both these options will come with solar panels that are either fitted to your roof or can be wall-mounted. This can be an excellent way to reduce your electricity costs as the price, and operational costs of electric water heaters can be really high.
4. Solar Lighting
Solar lighting has taken the market by storm. Once started with portable flashbacks, these lightings have now taken over floodlights, string lights, pond lights, street lights, and much more.
Pairing efficient solar panels with a sturdy battery, many of these lightings offer a battery life of at least 10 hours, if not more. They also sport multi-colored and multi-patterned outlooks. Most of them are built to be waterproof and offer high durability.
These lights are so useful that you can pretty much find customized lighting for any location you have in mind. Whether it is path lights or lamp post-style lights, whether it is patio lights or deck lights, solar lighting has got you covered.
5. Solar Ventilation Fans
Another area where solar energy has been used is ventilation. Ventilation fans follow a fairly simple mechanism and can function effectively despite low sunlight. These make solar energy perfect for running attic fans.
Attics tend to gather a lot of heat and moisture due to the lack of proper cooling. This can cause the growth of mold as well as cause damage to any electric appliances. Solar attic fans can provide an excellent and affordable solution to this problem. It can also reduce the load on your air-conditioning system. The ventilation does not have to be limited to attics and can be used in other areas of the house as well.
6. Solar Charging
Charging via solar power is a highly effective solution for nearly all batteries. You can purchase any one of the many inexpensive solar panel kits available in the market. These will be equipped with a photo-electric panel. Most kits also include connections that allow you to directly charge your devices. Similarly, you can purchase an inverter so that the DC current generated by these solar panels can be converted to AC current to charge your other batteries.
7. Solar Motion Detectors
Solar energy has also touched the motion-detecting market. You can now find highly efficient solar-powered detectors with incredible range. These usually come in multiple packs and offer a variety of functions. Whether it is different modes of security lights, extremely wide coverage, or high-sensitivity sensors, they have quickly overtaken traditional motion detectors. They are also weather-resistant and come with lasting warranties.
8. Solar Transportation
The transportation industry is yet another viable market for solar energy. One of the most effective ways this has been incorporated is by using photovoltaic energy to power railroads. This energy can also be utilized to power buses, subways as well as cars.
This is one sector that is still in the development phase but is filled with potential. There are multiple developments underway for solar-powered cars. A fully solar-powered aircraft, the Solar Impulse 2, successfully completed it’s around the world journey in 2016. With advances like these, we can surely hope to see a lot of growth in the coming years.
The benefits of solar energy are being realized across the world. We are collectively moving towards greener energy, and the versatility of solar energy is only helping to propel the movement. Every day there are new technological breakthroughs that help to prove that the future of solar energy is full of potential. With consistent improvements and developments, this list for uses of solar energy will only get longer.