Solar Power Electricity
The most common form of solar energy is used for generating power for your home and is based on photovoltaic panels. These solar power electricity systems have been available for decades, but because of improvements to their efficiency and ease of installation they have become very popular in the last few years. They basically consist of a set of solar panels that are typically mounted on your roof. These panels will produce a DC current when exposed to the sun. This DC current is then converted to AC current by a device called an inverter and supplied to your home for use. If you generate more power than you need, the excess is sent back up the power lines to the local utility where it generates a credit that can be used to offset the power you buy back from them in the evenings. If you size one of these home solar power systems correctly, you can easily supply all the power your home requires for a reasonable investment in one of these home solar power systems.
Solar Power Lights
A similar use of PV technology has been applied to solar power light systems. These initially started out as simple and inexpensive pathway lighting that homeowners could install themselves. Each light contains a small solar panel and battery that is charged by the sun each day. In the evenings, this solar power light would use the stored energy from the battery to light the bulb in the enclosure. In the last few years these solar power light systems have expanded to include all types of exterior lighting and even some interior lighting solutions as well. They provide a very efficient and inexpensive alternative for many lighting needs.
Solar Water Heating Systems
Another very popular form of solar power is a solar hot water system. This type of passive solar heat system is designed to heat the water you use in your home with sunlight. The way this system works is by placing a specialized solar collector on your roof that the solar hot water system uses to heat the water passing through it. This collector contains a webbing of small tubes that are connected to the home's hot water lines. As the water is passed through these tubes and exposed to the sun, the water is quickly heated and returned to your home. These solar hot water systems are very inexpensive, easy to install and can heat all the water needed for an averaged sized home. These have even been adapted to heating the water in your pool and do a great job of keep that water warm as well.
Passive Solar Air Heat
A final use for solar power is for passive solar heat in a home. This type of system uses the home itself as the solar collector and involves the installation of large windows on the southern side of the house that allow sunlight to penetrate deep into the home. As this sunlight strikes the wall and floors of the home, it heats these surfaces and this heat will be slowly released all evening. This helps to keep the home at a stable and comfortable temperature all year round. In some of these passive solar heat installations the floors and walls are treated with a specialized material that will improve the surface's ability to collect and retain the heat from the sun. These systems can be very effective and will allow the average home to significantly lower their heating bills each year.