There are many advantages and disadvantages to "going solar." Before you make the decision to convert your home's power system to solar energy, you need to understand what these advantages and disadvantages are. During your research into this subject, you will come across unfamiliar terms and will need to know what they mean. Having some basic knowledge before beginning to look into this will greatly speed up the process.
Solar Energy Advantages
* Solar energy provides a never-ending fuel source. Using this type of energy can supply power even during a power outage, which is a huge benefit over traditional electricity.
* Going solar can provide major cost-saving benefits. Once your initial investment is recovered, your energy is practically free. There are financial incentives available from the government, including tax savings. You can even sell excess energy back to your local utility company. A final money saving advantage is that solar energy is not affected by fuel supply and demand.
* Converting to solar energy is extremely friendly for the environment. This energy source is clean, sustainable and pollution free. Solar energy helps to cut down on greenhouse gases and does not contribute to smog or global warming.
* When you switch to solar powered electricity, a connection to the power grid is not required.
* This type of energy reduces dependence on foreign sources of energy, making the country much more independent.
* Solar energy systems are virtually maintenance free and have the added benefit of no recurring costs.
* A solar energy system is a very silent power source. You will not have to worry about noise interrupting your sleep.
* Solar energy systems can easily be resized to fit your needs by simply adding additional solar panels.
Solar Energy Disadvantages
* The initial cost of converting your home to solar energy can sometimes be very high.
* Solar energy systems have a low energy production and large amount of panels are sometimes needed to produce useful amounts of energy.
* A large area is required for the installation of enough solar panels to be productive.
* The amount of energy produced can be heavily influenced by clouds and pollution.
* No energy is produced at night. This means that additional equipment, such as batteries, need to be installed in order to hold the energy produced during the day.
* Solar energy systems are useful only in areas with lots of sunlight.
Basic Solar Energy Terms Defined
Some basic terms are used in nearly every discussion of solar energy systems. To help you understand what is being discussed, here are some definitions.
Solar energy is energy from the sun's radiation. Solar thermal systems use this solar energy to heat water for hot water heaters or even swimming pools. A solar cell converts sunlight into electrical energy, and a solar panel is full of connected solar cells.
Renewable energy is energy gleaned from sources that are rapidly replenished from natural processes, in this case the sun. Photovoltaic cells (PVCs) are made of semiconducting material. PVCs hoard sunlight in order to produce electricity.
A stand alone system is one that is not connected to the grid. Grid-connected means that your electric system is connected to the utility company. However, even when you are grid-connected, your first power source is your solar energy system.
Trombe walls are walls that face the sun and are built from heat-conducting materials. A solar sunroom is one designed with a large amount of glass windows. The glass collects solar energy and either distributes it throughout the house or stores it for later use. Solar shingles function in the same way as solar panels. However, they do away with the need to install bulky equipment on your roof.
Net metering is an agreement between you and the utility company. This agreement allows you to sell the excess power your solar energy system generates back to the utility company.
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