Definition Of Solar Energy

Radiant energy from the sun that arrives to earth in the form of light in multiple wavelengths. Note that the light humans can see is just one set of wavelengths. There are longer and shorter wavelengths that are not visible to the human eye.

The definition of solar energy in regards to to energy we can use for our homes is a specialized subsection of solar energy as are thermal energy and concentrated solar energy.

Solar energy falls into two categories, active and passive. Photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power and solar water heating are considered active. Passive solar includes architectural techniques that make use of the sun and the earth’s natural thermal mass to heat buildings and circulate air.

The potential of solar power is incredible. We are currently only using a very small percentage of the sun’s energy. About 30% of the sun’s energy is reflected by the atmosphere. The rest warms the oceans and atmosphere and land masses. In this article we will discuss a variety of ways we use solar energy.

Photovoltaics

Also known as solar panels, these systems take the energy from the sun and convert it to usable electrical current for use in homes and businesses. They make use of the photoelectric effect. In 1839 Alexandre Becquerel discovered that some metals emit electrons when light shines on them. Today we use silicon solar cells to take advantage of the photoelectric effect. Solar energy hits the cells and an electron breaks off. The design of the panels encourages the electrons to flow to an inverter which converts the direct current into alternating current.

When installed on homes solar panels can greatly reduce your electric bill. The panels we use at Enver have a 25 year warranty so over the years solar can save you thousands.

Concentrated solar power

This type of solar power uses a large group of reflective surfaces all reflecting the sunlight to a central point. At that central point there is a material with a high heat capacity. Materials with high heat capacity have the ability to hold their temperature for long periods of time. That heat is then used to either heat a building or run a steam turbine converting the energy into electrical energy.

Solar water heating

There are two types of solar water heating. Water is pumped through collectors that are stationed in the sun and then back to storage tank. This type only works if you live in an area that do not reach freezing temperatures. The second type is where the fluid in the collector is a fluid that does not freeze. It goes into the collector to heat up which in turn heats up a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger heats the water.

Solar energy does much more for the earth like make plants grow, keep us warm, cause the earths water cycle, etc. But for the purpose of this article we are narrowing the definition of solar energy to the primary methods we use it to power and warm our homes.

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What Client’s Say

We had several solar companies give us a proposal for solar on our home but none of them were as informative as Jon! We felt so comfortable with him and his professionalism there was no question who to go with.

- Robert and Julie Harrison

Ron was helpful every step of the way. We were skeptical at first but he made us feel comfortable with his soft spoken way! We are not only excited about saving money with our new system (we got a new furnace and ductwork to go with our solar panels) but we made a friend.

- Greg and Sheri Goodman

Wife and I were really taken by surprise when we saw how much we would save on our electric bill by going solar. The whole house fan was a great addition to the system!

- Mike and Susan McClintock

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