The word “photovoltaic” combines “photo” meaning “light" and “voltaic” meaning “producing electricity”. Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. Series of cells form panels which are most often installed on the roofs of buildings to take advantage of sun exposure and to avoid shade. Depending on energy use, between 10 to 50 solar panels are needed to power an average sized household. The panels require very little maintenance and can last up to 30 years.
For more detailed information, visit the Department of Energy’s website on photovoltaics.
Solar Hot Water Heaters
Solar hot water systems use the sun’s energy to pre-heat water before it goes into your conventional hot-water heater. This simple heating solution can result in big savings, as about one-fourth of a household’s energy consumption comes from water heating.
To learn more, visit the Department of Energy’s information page on solar heating.
Benefits of Solar
Solar energy, whether PV or Solar Hot Water, is a clean, green energy source that has very little maintenance needs and is feasible for homeowners, commercial building owners alike. Installing solar will help you reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants and help prevent a host of environmental and public health threats caused by burning fossil fuels for energy.
Solar energy is limitless and is therefore considered renewable. We never have to worry about running out of sunlight. The sun will never cease to rise. Even on cloudy days, your solar system will still create some electricity for your use.
Solar energy is also free. After the initial installation costs, all the energy your system collects has no cost. If you use more energy than your system generates, you use electricity from your utility as usual. But, if you generate more electricity than you use, you can sell your excess back to your utility company through their “Net Metering” Tariff. When the cost of electricity goes up, the savings you see from your solar system will increase.
Solar energy is reliable. Solar panels have no moving parts and can function with very little maintenance. In fact, a solar system can go without replacement for up to 30 years!