Solar energy has massive potential to be a clean, green solution for the Earth’s energy woes. But how does solar energy work, and how can we harness it to power our homes in a planet-friendly way?
As technology progresses, so does our ability to capture and utilise the sun’s rays to fuel our increasingly power-hungry population. Although solar power may sound complicated, it’s actually quite simple. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of solar power, and how we can best utilise our home’s solar panels to save energy, save money, and save the environment.
The Power of the Sun
Contrary to popular belief, solar power isn’t so much a new-fangled technology as it is an original energy source. Humans have used the sun’s power for thousands of years, from utilising reflective surfaces to start fires to measuring time and growing abundant sources of fruits and vegetables!
The power of the sun is incredible. As a natural nuclear reactor, the sun produces the energy that we are welcome recipients of on Earth. The amount of energy the sun produces is mind-boggling, and the Earth receives only a fraction of its lucrative light power. So, it’s amazing to think that even though we only receive an incremental amount of the sun’s power, the amount we gain in just an hour and a half of daylight can meet the world’s energy needs for a year!
While we’re not able to harness all that energy yet, humans are more efficient than ever in converting solar energy into usable electricity for our homes, factories, and vehicles! But how does solar energy work through home-installed solar panels?
How Do Solar Panels Convert Rays to Electricity?
Now we get into the technical side, which is actually quite simple. Most homes capture and convert solar energy through photovoltaic (PV) panel systems. How does this technology work? PV panels start with a thin silicon wafer with two charged sides, one negative and one positive. Sunlight carries photons filled with energy, which transfer energy to the electrons in the silicon wafer, causing them to move freely to the negative side and back, producing an electric charge.
This electric charge is called a Direct Current (DC). The metal frame that weaves between the wafers of the panels conducts this DC and ushers it towards an inverter, which converts the one-way electrical charge of a DC to an Alternating Current, (AC) which can move backwards and forwards to power all of our electronics in the home through a distribution panel.
Simple! Although, if you are looking for more intricate knowledge, may we suggest NASA’s breakdown of PV energy?
Can You Store Solar Electricity?
If your distribution panel has enough energy to power your home, you can install a solar battery to store energy for those times when there might be a shortage of energy. Every year our ability to not only capture but store solar energy is increasing, making it a great investment!
Not every home has a solar battery, but it is strongly recommended to get the most out of your solar panels. Think of the battery as a safety net, so you can face a few days of overcast weather without resorting to the mains grids.
Save Solar Power to Save on Energy Bills
Solar energy not only means you can be self-sufficient in your energy use, but you can also contribute to others being more sustainable too! If you’re connected with the mains grids, the extra energy your house and your solar battery don’t need can be redirected into the wider power grid, which power companies will reimburse you for!
To ensure an accurate measure of the energy your solar panels' input into the mains grid, ensure you have an effective solar metre. This will track the power you use versus the power you generate to make sure you get returns on your green investment!
Is Your House Suitable for Solar?
Most houses are suitable for solar energy in New Zealand. There are enough sunny days in the North and top of the South Island to comfortably power your home, but here are a few tips to make sure you can get the most out of your solar panels.
Install solar panels on a north-facing roof as this is where you will get the most sun!
Make sure to tilt your panels at an angle to absorb more rays.
Use a solar calculator to see how much energy your home will need to run.
Harness the Sun with Harrison’s Solar!
If solar panels are the next step in your clean energy journey, or you’re simply looking to save a little money and be friendlier on the planet, Harrison’s Solar can help. We can give you advice on a range of solar panels to suit your home and its energy needs.
Harrison’s Solar stock Qcells, the global leader in solar energy, and the sought-after Tesla Powerwall battery to store electricity safely and efficiently! Get in touch with the team today for a free quote and start or continue your solar journey!