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Residential Solar Power Solutions

May 13, 2008
It seems that the cost of gas, electricity and oil to provide power to our homes continues to rise every year. This rise often seems to outstrip average inflation. We are often told that there are a number of legitimate reasons for this inflation. One that may not be so well publicized is that many utilities companies are privatized and have to run at a profit. Indeed, the management would not be doing their job if they did not turn a profit.

However, the companies themselves are at pains to point out that the real reason for increases is that the fuel used is becoming scarce. Coal, oil and gas are resources that are used by power stations to create electricity or are supplied directly to homes. All of these resources are finite and the more they get used the harder they become to find and extract. All these extra costs have to be passed on to the consumer by the utility companies.

Within this context and partly because fossil fuels are thought to contribute to environmental change, people are keen to find alternatives to traditional energy resources. Solar power has been around for many years and is becoming a viable alternative to fossil fuels for generating power to the home. This article will cover how to run a house on solar power.

A popular way to run a home with solar power is to utilize the Sun's thermal energy. Heat from the Sun can heat water. This can be used as hot water or the heat in the water can be used indirectly to provide warmth in the house.

The principle behind this idea is that if you expose a flat metal plate to sunlight it will become hot. If the plate is painted black then more of the heat energy is absorbed. If you put insulation on the underside of the plate then less of the heat is lost back to the environment.

By passing colder water past the hot plate, the heat will be transferred to the water. This would create hot water. Depending on the heat of the hot plate, this water could be used directly in the home or it could be connected to the normal hot water boiler. The solar pre-heated water can then by heated to an adequate temperature for the home. The pre-heating should save on energy used by the normal hot water boiler.

So a good solar water heating system can save you money on water heating costs which is often one of the more expensive items on a monthly utility bill.

Sunlight can also be used to create electricity. The technology that utilizes sunlight is known as photovoltaics (PV). A PV cell is made from a silicon based semi conductor. The PV cell reacts with sunlight to displace an electron. The flow of an electron from a negative to a positive terminal is the creation of electric current. By increasing the number of PV cells connected in series you can increase the voltage between the positive and negative terminals and the current of the electricity.

This is direct current (DC) which can be stored in batteries or converted to alternating current (AC). Using an power inverter. AC is used in homes to power lights, and most appliances that plug into wall electrical sockets.

The solar panels that you may have seen on the roofs of many a home are a number of PV cells formed together in a series or parallel configuration to optimize the production of electricity. Installing a solar panel in your home has become easier as the energy industries focus more attention on solar power. The cost and installation of solar panels has also come down in recent years

Solar panels have become easier to install as utility companies become more conducive to solar power. Many states have agreements whereby the electricity company must buy electricity from the household at retail price. This can make installation and viability of solar power more acceptable.

Having a hybrid system of grid and solar power means that if the Sun stops shining or there are cloudy days then you can still use the grid for power. This takes a lot of the responsibility for creating power off the home owner.

The next stage in solar electricity is to go completely off grid. This means you cut off the utility company and rely on solar power solely. This may be scary for some people new to solar power but it is possible but more work. You will need storage devices for your electricity and backup systems should the Sun not shine. Many people have fuel powered generators or have wind or water power systems as backup.
About the Author
For more details on solar power tax rebates and how solar power can conserve energy visit the solarpowerappliances website.
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