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Solar Power For The Home - Getting Started

Sep 6, 2008
Solar power is a green energy source available in almost every corner of the globe and of course has been literally available since the dawn of time. Solar energy is produced by using photovoltaic (PV) cells that capture the energy of the sun and then convert it into electricity. The basic unit of the system is the solar cell and these cells are connected together into modules. Solar power is an increasingly attractive energy technology because photovoltaic modules produce no pollution, have an expected life of twenty years and require little in the way of maintenance. As such, solar power is increasingly being looked to as a long term solution for the world's current global warming problems.

One of the more popular solar power applications is the use of solar energy to power the home. Home solar power systems are a great way of using an alternative yet abundant energy source. They provide clean, renewable energy and require little maintenance after the initial installation. Home solar power systems convert sunlight into electricity through the use of solar panels. For an average home about ten watts per square foot of electrical energy will be gathered per day, but this can vary depending on the size of the solar panels that are being used. On days with a more intense sun, more electricity will be produced.
Electricity generated by your solar panel array passes through an inverter to convert it from DC to AC electricity. Electrical wiring connects the solar panels to the controller, then to the meter box and ultimately to the electricity company via the existing electricity grid. Little additional equipment is needed other than the panels, controller and inverters, wiring, and the roof mounting system. Electricity produced by the solar cells that is not used immediately in the home can be returned to the power grid. When this happens the electricity meter literally spins backwards as energy is being passed back to the grid.

In the case of standalone residential power systems (i.e. where there is no integration with the existing electricity grid) it is important to also have a battery (or batteries) and an associated battery charger. A battery charger enables you to charge a battery (or batteries) in order to store electricity. Prior to the advent of solar battery chargers, solar power was only useful during daylight hours. You need the ability to not only utilize solar energy, but also store any excess electricity for use during the night. A solar power battery charger can be bought from a wide range of retail outlets and online stores, whom specialize in solar energy supplies.

These types of self sustaining solar power systems for the home are increasing in popularity worldwide as energy prices start to soar and environmental concerns take on a sharper priority.
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