What is Solar Energy? (A Beginner’s Guide)

April 4, 2020

When it comes to leading a cleaner and greener lifestyle, solar energy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. While changing your diet to a plant-based is great, it isn’t the only way you can contribute to our planet.

For instance, by making the switch to clean energy like solar energy to power your space is another step you can take for a cleaner future. 

Here’s a beginner’s guide to understanding solar energy and how to shift to clean energy—solar energy in particular–here’s the full rundown on everything you need to know about solar power.

The great news is there have already been huge strides to achieving a clean energy-powered future. According to UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation report, one out of three Americans lives in a city or state that has committed to or achieved 100 percent clean electricity. 

In the same report, the United States’ capital city Washington DC has already set a target date to become a 100% run by clean energy—by the year 2032.

Similarly, other states in the country have also set their own dates, between the year 2040-2050, 20 to 30 years from now!

With the number of cities and states aiming to make the switch to renewable energy, it makes you wonder, why? To answer these questions, here’s a quick guide to solar energy, from A to Z.

What is solar energy?

Solar panels in an open space.

Solar energy is clean usable energy generated from the Sun in the form of thermal and electric energy.

What’s great about solar energy is that it can be captured and used in many ways, making it a fantastic electrical energy source for our daily needs. 

How does solar energy work? When it comes to converting the Sun’s rays into usable energy there are two ways to do that, photovoltaics or thermal collectors.

The most popular way to capture solar energy is via photovoltaic solar panels. They are essentially solar panels that capture the Sun’s rays and convert it into usable electricity. 

Another to generate the Sun’s energy into something useful for our daily lives is by using it as a source for thermal applications. To warm up indoor areas, solar thermal is a great way to use the Sun’s rays to provide direct heat.

Another way to warm up your household is through solar photovoltaic to turn sunlight into electricity to power heating systems. 

While there are two ways to capture solar power, let’s delve in a little bit deeper into the popular method of solar energy, photovoltaic. 

Photovoltaic Solar Energy is the Future

Solar panels on a roof.

For property owners, the photovoltaic solar system (PV), is most commonly used. The solar panels in a PV solar system can transform sunlight into electricity. Then, the electricity converted from the Sun is stored in a solar battery or stored in the net meter.

Net metering allows excess solar energy to be stored in the electric grid in exchange for credits. 

In other words, the credits are the excess electrical energy that’s been conserved and used for later.

For instance, when solar panels are underperforming in the night time, the credits can be used to keep the electricity running. To keep the electricity running, you can pull electric energy from the electric grid. 

With a great solar energy system at home, you can even easily produce and store a year’s worth of electricity.

In addition, with net metering, you’re able to store enough electricity despite the constant change between long or short days and nights throughout the whole year. 

Reasons Why You Should Make the Switch to Solar Energy

Solar panels in an open space.

It’s a cleaner and cost-effective energy source

Due to the affordability of installing solar panels, solar energy is becoming more accessible to people across the world. A report from Deloitte, states, in early 2019, the cost of wind and solar installations declined by 10 percent and 18 percent. With solar energy’s affordability, it will definitely play an important role in the future, globally.

The world is moving on from fossil fuels

Even though fossil fuels are widely used in the United States, plans are now being made to move away from oil and gas. Solar energy as an energy source is now making its way into prominence in the United States’ energy profile.

Above all, solar power’s competitive pricing makes the competition steep with fossil fuels.  

Renewable energy is now overtaking coal

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Renewable Energy Industry Outlook report, renewable energy has upstaged coal by supplying 23 percent power than coal’s 20 percent power contribution.

In early 2019 alone, wind and solar energy contributed 50 percent of the country’s total renewable electricity generation. 

By taking a step towards renewable energy, you are taking part in the movement to transition away from harmful sources of energy. By doing so, you’re helping improve everyone’s standard of living. 

How to Make the Switch to Solar Energy

A residential property.

Interested in using solar power? Solar panels come in differet variants, depending on what your property needs.

Residential property

Solar panels are typically installed on rooftops or in open spaces. Depending on the size of the property, a residential space would need between 5 to 20 kilowatts.

Commercial Property

On a commercial-scale, projects are a bigger undertaking than residential solar installations. The solar panel system would need to be between 25 to 250 kilowatts, depending on the size of the property. 

Therefore, transforming your home to be energy-efficient, is the best and most cost-effective way to use solar energy is to install a photovoltaic system to your home.

To pick out the best solar energy in-house system for your home, it’s beneficial to contact a solar power service company like Sunstra

Transitioning to a new electrical power source isn’t easy. You’re going to need the help of solar power installation experts to make sure that everything goes smoothly. As their client, you will guided through every step of the process

Site Surveying 

Expert solar panel engineers and installers will come by your property and take a look at the specifications you would need for your solar energy system. By examining your space, they’ll be able to ensure that your home will receive a seamless solar energy installation process. 

Assistance with the paperwork

You need to apply for an installation before before starting on installing your solar power system. With a service provider, they’ll take care of all the paperwork for you. They will make sure that you get the best incentives and rebates from the government. 

Guaranteed a successful solar panel installation 

Solar service providers can get everything in the installation done correctly. Helping you meet all government and energy company guidelines.

The amount of preparation and installation of the solar panels is very rigorous. The process requires a great deal of care and expertise. By partnering up with solar power installation experts, the process will go smoothly.

The journey to becoming energy-efficient is a hard but very rewarding process. Not only are you switching to an eco-friendly power source solution. You are also cutting on costs. By doing so. you know longer have to dread getting your monthly electricity bill. 

In conclusion, solar energy is another way to a much healthier and safer future. To get started on your energy-efficient lifestyle, visit Sunstra’s site and contact them for more information. 

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