Solar Power Uses
Solar power is used a number of different ways, of course. There are two very basic kinds of solar energy:
- Solar thermal energy collects the sun's warmth through one of two means: in water or in an anti-freeze (glycol) mixture.
- Solar photovoltaic energy converts the sun's radiation to usable electricity.
Two kinds of solar energy and Five ways they can be used.
Here are the five most practical and popular ways that solar energy is used:
- Small portable solar photovoltaic systems. We see these used everywhere, from calculators to solar garden products. Portable units can be used for everything from RV appliances while single panel systems are used for traffic signs and remote monitoring stations.
- Solar pool heating. Running water in direct circulation systems through a solar collector is a very practical way to heat water for your pool or hot tub.
- Thermal glycol energy to heat water. In this method (indirect circulation), glycol is heated by the sun's rays and the heat is then transferred to water in a hot water tank.
This method of collecting the sun's energy is more practical now than ever. In areas as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, solar thermal to heat water is economically sound. It can pay for itself in three years or less.
- Integrating solar photovoltaic energy into your home or business power. In many parts of the world, solar photovoltaics is an economically feasible way to supplement the power of your home. In Japan, photovoltaics are competitive with other forms of power. In the US, new incentive programs make this form of solar energy ever more viable in many states. An increasingly popular and practical way of integrating solar energy into the power of your home or business is through the use of building integrated solar photovoltaics.
- Large independent photovoltaic systems. If you have enough sun power at your site, you may be able to go off grid. You may also integrate or hybridize your solar energy system with wind power or other forms of renewable energy to stay 'off the grid.'
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