Even if you haven’t switched to solar yet, you probably know that it can be used to power homes and commercial buildings. But did you know you could use this sustainable resource in many other ways too? Without even realizing it, you have been living in an increasingly solar-powered world.
Powering your Home
Because we just love home solar systems, we had to add them to the top of our list. And since the United States saw over a million rooftop installations in 2016, this solar option proves a popular one for many homes and businesses.
If you do install solar panels on your home, you will see a drastic price drop on your next power bill. Using solar energy will also shelter you from the rising rates of fossil fuels. No wonder people love rooftop solar!
How do these systems work? The solar panels soak up the sun’s energy as direct current (or DC). Then, they send that power to a solar inverter which converts the DC power into the standard alternating current (AC) that most homes use. You can now flip on a light switch or power your refrigerator with clean energy!
Using Solar-Powered Technology
Although on a smaller scale than a building, many electronics companies are choosing solar energy for their products. Radios, calculators, tablets and cell phones can all benefit from this renewable resource, powering and charging itself effortlessly. You can even find mini fridges that use solar energy as its power source! Clearly, there are many everyday uses for solar within technology.
Going Places with Solar Energy
Solar can take you places—literally! In fact, solar transportation has quickly turned into a fascinating and innovative outlet for solar energy. From bike lanes to trains to roads, you can find this clean power used in nearly every method of transportation today.
For example, China has included solar in its public transit system recently. Jumping at an ingenious idea, the country is now using solar buses to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. At the same time, these buses are helping its public transportation run smoothly and efficiently.
Another method of solar transit today is cars. When a solar-powered car captures its necessary sunlight, it converts that energy into electricity for the car’s battery. In some models, the car actually forgoes any battery and sends its current directly to an electric motor!
Finally, many engineers have used solar energy in planes, boats and space rides. The plane Solar Impulse 2 successfully flew across the Pacific Ocean in 2016, and the self-sailing boat Solar Voyager is making its way across the Atlantic.
Heating Things Up
Many people who want to start small will invest in solar space and water heaters before looking into a rooftop system. With solar space heaters, you can certainly heat your home effectively and efficiently.
These heaters convert solar energy into thermal energy using liquid or air as a medium, and they can use an active or passive heating system. An active system has circulating pumps and controls that help it produce electricity, while a passive system uses natural circulation.
For solar water heaters, you can efficiently warm up the water in your home, saving energy with hot showers and dishwashing like never before. These systems give you hot water by running it through a solar power collector. The collector heats the water and then sends it back into your home ready to use.
Using these solar heating systems, many people can heat pools at a lower cost than using oil or gas pumps. In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, “solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar energy in many climates.”
Are you reeling from all the ways you can use solar energy? With this sustainable resource, people are benefiting from clean power every day, reducing pollution and making the environment a better, greener place. We can hardly contain our enthusiasm at living in such a wonderful, solar-powered world.
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