Solar Power – The Things You Need to Consider

by A.D Paterson on 19/08/2010

Ever thought that you’d like to do your bit for the planet, while saving yourself some money as you do it? If you’ve ever thought about solar power, then this may just help to nudge you further in that direction.

In this article we’re going to look at three of the main things you should be considering when looking at solar power. First we’re going to talk about what solar power actually is. Next, we’ll look at whether it’s a fad or the future. Finally, we’re going to end by seeing how cost effective it actually is to have solar power. After reading this article, you’ll be able to see if solar power really is the best option for you.

What is Solar Power?

Most people are going to have a fair idea of what solar power is, but not so many actually know how it works, and how you can capture it so as to make use of it, so let’s clarify these points a little.

We all know that the sun generates heat; in fact, all you need to do is to stay outside on a hot sunny day, so as to see the effect of the sun on your body. The body will absorb the heat and radiation from the sun and, usually, show it as some form of sunburn.

Other things can absorb this heat too, and they can release it again in a more productive form than sunburn. For instance, if you leave a hose out in the sun you’ll notice that the water that comes out to start with will be hot, and this is the basic principal behind solar water heating.

Solar energy can also be stored (via solar panels) in large batteries, and that gives use free power that we can use to run electrical appliances in the house.

Is Solar Energy a Fad, or the future?

Most of us know that there’s going to come a point in the not too distant future when the world has to change to way it consumes the natural resources in order to produce energy, but how far off is that time, and are we ready for it?

The fossil fuels that we have been using to power our lifestyle have been depleting at a rapid rate over the years. Most of the things in the home that we take for granted couldn’t even have been dreamt of when we first started using fossil fuels to power our everyday lives, and, couple with a growing population, cheaper forms of transport, and a love of gadgets, the depletion of these natural resources has increased to the point where alternatives are needed.

So, what are some of the alternatives that are being considered? Well, some of the ones you’ve probably heard of are solar, wind, and hydrogen power. The last one, hydrogen, is of more interest to the car industry, so that leaves wind and solar for home use.

The big disadvantage when it comes to wind power (for domestic use) is the actual wind turbine itself. There are some small ones that will attach to the side of your house, but that means you’re limited to where you can have them, and, unlike the sun, you aren’t guaranteed to have enough wind to charge up your batteries so as to power your home.

Cost Effectiveness.

Right, we know that the sun is a free and renewable source of energy, so it will end up giving us free energy to heat and power the home, but what are the real cost of solar power?

What you need to do is to decide on the type of solar power you want or need. Some people don’t need to use it to heat their water because they have other ways of doing that i.e. a log fire connected to the hot water storage, so they really only need to think about powering the house.

Look at how much it will cost you to have a solar panel (or a number of them) installed that will completely replace the power that you get from the major service providers. Workout how much you actually pay for your electricity each year and then divide the cost of the solar panels by the cost of the power you’re paying for per year. This will show you how many years it will take for the solar panels to start paying for themselves.

That is just a rough guide because, especially over the last few years, the cost of domestic electricity has started to skyrocket. The figure you get will be the number of years based on a price freeze, but you should actually find that the true length of time is a lot shorter.

Can we reduce that time any further? Sure we can. Quite often it’s possible to actually sell unused power back to the electricity companies. If you’re generating power during the day, that you’re not using, then try selling it back to the companies. The money that you have coming in from the electricity companies will help the solar panels to pay for themselves a whole lot quicker.

So there you have it, three things to consider when looking at upgrading to solar energy. First, what are the benefits of solar power? Second, are you going to be buying something that’s here today and gone tomorrow? Finally, is it going to be cost effective for you? Now you’ll be able to decide if you can save the planet, as well as save yourself some money.

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