How Does Solar Power Work For Me?

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Have you ever asked yourself, “How does solar power work?” If so, you are not alone. The climate crisis is making people think more about ways to reduce their carbon footprints, and solar power is one option that is gaining popularity. Solar panels are part of a complex network that uses the sun’s light to provide renewable energy. 

This article discusses frequently asked questions, emphasizing how solar power works. Read on to find out more about solar energy. 

What is solar energy?

The energy that powers your solar panels comes from the sun. Our sun constantly produces energy through the process of nuclear fusion. This process happens when protons (the same kind of atom as hydrogen) frequently collide and fuse, releasing powerful energy. Fun fact: The solar energy that hits the Earth for over an hour is enough to power the world for a year.

How does solar power work?

Solar power is generated from the sun’s energy using solar panels or mirrors that use photovoltaic technology. This technology then turns sunlight into electrical power. These panels have silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing, and wiring. They are placed on rooftops or outdoor spaces to capture sunlight during the daytime.

In some places, people with a grid-tied solar energy system can earn credits toward their energy bill or sell extra energy back to the grid. When distribution companies read meters, they subtract the value of electricity solar users supply to the grid from the value of what they take. The net difference will act like an electricity trade, and consumers will receive a credit that can be carried forward for up to a year.

When did solar power become popular?

The practice of utilizing solar energy has a long history. In the 7th century BC, people used sunlight to light fires by reflecting the sun’s rays onto shiny objects. In the 3rd century BC, the Greeks and Romans used mirrors to light torches for religious ceremonies. 

French physicist Edmond Becquerel paved the way for modernizing the use of solar energy. The then-19-year-old Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic (PV) effect in 1839 while experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes in a conducting solution. Thus, in 1954, the silicon PV cell was born at Bell Labs. Nowadays, solar energy powers satellites, machines, devices, and homes.

How much do solar panel installations cost?

The average cost to install solar power in Canada is $3.01/watt, but this can vary depending on the size of the system, your eligibility for solar incentives, the type of equipment used, and the province in which you live.

 

For example, and average cost for installing solar panels in Edmonton ranges anywhere from $13,000-30,000 for a residential system.

What are the advantages of installing solar panels?

Solar panel technology is said to produce fewer carbon emissions than coal or natural gas, which is good for the environment. You can also generate your own energy, which could have a positive effect on property values. It may take about 8-10 years for the solar power system to pay for itself, so it may not be a good investment for someone who is planning to sell their home soon.

Will I still need to pay for electricity despite having solar panels?

On-grid users will still receive an electric bill, even with solar panels. If you want to take full advantage of solar energy, install a solar battery backup system.

Can a solar energy system power an entire house?

Solar panels can generate enough electricity for your entire house, but it’s important to make sure your solar panels are operating at their best efficiency and to install storage if you don’t want to rely on the grid when there is no full sunlight.

How much room do I need for solar panels?

With solar panels, you can generate power even in areas with poor sunlight. An average solar panel is just 18 square feet, so it can easily fit on a roof or in a yard. 

Should solar panels be installed on the roof or the ground?

Neither mounting system is necessarily better than the other – it depends on your budget, energy needs, and lifestyle. That being said, here are some things to consider when deciding between the two.

Shingle roofs should be at least ten years old and in good condition to have solar panels installed. South-facing roofs are the best candidates, but east and west-facing roofs are also acceptable. North-facing roofs do not fare as well, but flat roofs can accommodate solar panels.

The upfront costs for installing ground panel systems may be higher. Ground panel systems can be at an optimal angle to avoid shading. Over their lifetime, ground panel systems are more efficient and have higher financial benefits.

What type of solar system suits my needs?

To determine the size of a solar system, you need to look at your monthly hydro bills to figure out how much energy you use on average each year. Remember that energy usage can vary from month to month, so multiplying a month’s usage by 12 won’t give you an accurate number – you’ll need to add up all your bills.

Can solar power be produced even when the sky is cloudy?

Solar power can still be harnessed even in darkness, but it depends on the amount of sunlight and the quality, size, number, and location of the solar panels.

Will solar power work at night?

Solar panels can’t generate that much electricity at night because they need sunlight to work. But when paired with a battery, solar panels can store energy throughout the day and be used when the sun isn’t shining. This strategy can be a clever approach for households seeking to enhance the effectiveness of their renewable energy systems, particularly with the assistance of enterprise battery intelligence.

What are the alternatives to solar power?

PV panels are the most common type of solar energy generation, but other types of solar energy work in different ways. Solar hot water and concentrated solar power are two common alternatives to solar energy.

What distinguishes solar thermal panels from solar PV panels?

Solar panels generate electricity from the sun, while solar thermal panels generate heat. Both technologies use the same energy source – the sun – but have different technologies.

Solar PV is a technology that uses the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity from the sun. Solar thermal is a less sophisticated technology that uses direct sunlight to heat water.

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