What is Solar Power?

What is solar power? Quite simply, solar power is the product derived from converting sunlight into electricity. This can be done by either employing photovoltaic (PV) cells or concentrated solar power (CSP) systems. PV systems are much simpler and inexpensive, are used to create electricity, and comprise residential and business applications.

A solar panel made up of several PV cells collects solar radiation from sunlight and passes it to a solar inverter, which then converts this solar power to usable electricity. CSP systems are very complex, and use mirrors and tracking systems to focus a huge amount of solar energy into a focused beam. This is used more for invasive applications, and is not applicable to harnessing the incredible power of the sun to supply our energy usage.

When trying to answer the question, “What is solar power,” we are really trying to discover how solar energy can help us. The endless, free heat and light from the sun is felt by all of us every day. Anyone who has experienced a sunburn or has seen their car dashboard buckled from the relentless solar energy of our sun understands that this powerful energy source hits our planet every day, whether we harness it or not. The question what is solar power might be more readily answered by learning how to take advantage of this amazing resource. The amount of sunlight that hits the earth every day is enough to handle our world's energy sources 8,500 times over.

The only real question then is, “What is solar power going to do for me, and how can I harness it?” Fortunately, technologies exist for us to effectively harness this free, inexhaustible energy supply which are readily available for all budgets. Due to the worries over environmental ramifications and the rising costs of utilities, many people today are interested in learning more about how to harness this energy-replacement in their lives.

So, what is solar power harvesting made of, and what are some examples how it can work for me? Here are a few brief examples:

Solar cells: These are the small silicon cells which are combined in large groups to form solar panels or collectors that collect the sun's light. They are called photovoltaic (PV) cells, and are the first step in the conversion of sunlight into electricity. This is the heart of any solar energy system.

Solar water heaters: This is one of the most common residential uses for solar energy. After the sunlight is collected in the solar panels mentioned above through solar collectors, the solar thermal energy (heat) is used to heat your water instead of your utility company's electricity.

Solar lights: These can come in the form of simple $5 lights you stake into the ground that have a small PV cell on top to complex in-house solar tube lights which direct light to any area of your home with reflective tubing that cost hundreds of dollars.So, what is solar power offering, and is it worth the cost to implement in the common household? Let's take a look at why solar energy is so attractive on so many levels.

Solar energy is absolutely free and is inexhaustible. What happens if the sun was to go out, you ask? I believe you and I will have other more pressing concerns at that point than the size of our electric bill. There is absolutely no pollution, waste or fuel of any kind emitted at any point in the solar harnessing process. It is a truly clean-energy source.

If remote villages, getaway vacation homes or outlying areas have an expensive, difficult time producing energy, solar energy is a godsend. The sun shines everywhere, and even the most impoverished, poorest area can implement a solar strategy at very low cost. And it is implementable on any level, from battery chargers and calculators to cars and whole-house systems.

What is solar power? It is an absolutely free, inexhaustible energy source that is available to everyone for virtually any need. And as technologies continue to improve efficiency, lower costs, and max out your savings, it becomes more and more financially attractive every day.

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