The sun’s rays have provided light and heating for the planet for several billion years, but harnessing that energy to heat homes, provide energy and replace conventional sources of power has taken time to perfect. We are now at a stage, however, where the sun’s rays can realistically provide hot water, through solar heating systems, give us lighting, with the use of solar lights, and save on our conventional energy bills, with the use of solar powered energy saving devices.
The sun is an extremely powerful source of energy, but storing and releasing that power as a form of electricity is not easy, and it is only in recent years with the development of photovoltaic technology, and other technologies, has it been possible. Some of the most effective and cost-saving methods of utilizing the abundant energy produced by the sun, is the use of solar heating systems, solar lighting and solar powered device.
Solar heating systems
The basic principles of solar heating systems are fairly simple. By storing water in a thermal panel, the sun’s rays heat up the water to a sufficiently hot enough temperature that it can be used for bathing, washing and other household tasks. The secret of solar heating systems, however, lies in the materials used and the construction of the solar panels. Solar heating systems usually consist of an insulated panel, which is weatherproof, and contains an absorbent black metal sheet. A matrix of pipes inside the panel stores the water, and when placed in the path of the sun, the water heats up and begins to circulate around the hot water system.
The main benefits of solar heating systems include:
- Cheap – once installed, solar heating systems heat water for absolutely no cost.
- Environmentally friendly – no greenhouse gases are produced in the heating of hot water.
- Easy to maintain – no expensive boiler repairs or maintenance to worry about.
- An installed solar heating system may improve the value of a property
Of course, there are some downsides to solar heating systems. During times of low sunlight, the system produces less hot water, but in many areas, solar heating systems can easily provide 85% of all hot water.
Solar powered devices
Solar power has other uses that can save both energy and money too. More and more technologies are employing solar energy as a form of alternative power. Because solar power is clean, CO2 free, and has no costs attached, the more we utilize it, the more energy and money we will save, and the more we will benefit the environment.
Solar powered chargers are good example of how solar power is used to save energy. With most of us now owning all sorts of electrical gadgets, from mobile phones to lap tops, recharging these using solar power provides a cumulative energy savings that not only reduces our electricity bills and saves us money, but they also help reduce our carbon footprint. And solar powered battery chargers have other benefits too, such as being able to recharge laptops and mobile phones while we are on the move, or away from mains power.
Solar powered lighting
Solar energy is also useful for providing lighting too. Just like our heating systems, the energy used to power lights contributes to climate change, and the more energy we save in lighting our homes, the more we can help the environment. Solar lighting may sound contradictory; after all, it is during the night when there is no sun that we need lighting the most. Solar lights, however, work by storing the sun’s energy during the day and converting it into electricity, which can power lights during the night. Solar lights are ideal for outdoor areas and for lighting that is used intermittently, such as security and garden lighting.
Solar lighting has several benefits:
- Saves money, providing free lighting
- Good for the environment, with solar lights producing clean, CO2 free lighting
- Easy to install – with no mains electricity to worry about, solar lights don’t require an electrician for installation.
By using the sun’s energy in solar heating systems, solar lighting and solar chargers, we can go a long way into reducing climate change and help reduce our energy bills – saving both money and the environment.