People interested in joining the highly commendable movement referred to as the Solar Revolution and going solar usually have many questions before they’re ready to make the potentially life- and planet-changing move to solar.
As with any sizable financial investment, it’s best to go into the world of solar energy with your eyes wide open and with as many facts under your belt as possible so you can make an informed decision. With that in mind, here are some of the more pressing questions and a discussion of the answers to those questions.
1. What Exactly Is “solar”?
Solar refers to the energy from the sun, which, as far as we know, has been with us since the beginning of time, and continues to be a constant and reliable source of free energy, day in, day out.
Despite the fact that mankind has used the sun’s energy for many purposes over the centuries, we’re really only just starting to realize the potential power available to us from the sun. Even then, we’re still only taking advantage of a microscopic amount of the solar energy available to us. Amazingly enough, one hour of solar energy would be enough to cover the energy needs of the whole planet for more than a year, which makes you realize just how much energy remains untapped.
2. How Does Solar Work?
The type of solar we’re discussing here is solar electricity, which is produced by sunlight (or photons) striking a small amount of silicon, which in turn reacts with the sunlight to produce a small charge of electricity. This is known as the “photovoltaic effect”, which was discovered by Edmund Becquerel, a Frenchman working in the field of physics in the 19th century.
The silicon is formed into a cell, a certain number of which, depending on the amount of electricity to be produced, are wired together inside a frame to create a solar, or PV, panel. Two or more solar panels are then wired together to form an array, which is then placed on the roof of a building or on the ground nearby to produce solar electricity.
3. How Can It Benefit Me?
The first and most obvious benefit is economic, in that you’ll see your electricity bill either reduced dramatically or even eliminated, enabling you to hang onto much more of your hard-earned money. Not only that, but you’ll reduce your dependence on the utility company and the effect of future price increases due to the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels.
By reducing your dependence on fossil fuels, you’ll also benefit indirectly from cleaner air as a result of the decrease in carbon emissions. Long-term, this will also benefit you and your family and future generations by helping to preserve the planet.
4. How Do I Get Started?
If you’re ready to get started on your “Going Solar” project, the first step is to make sure your home is as energy-efficient as possible. This means that you should look at all the appliances and devices, computers, etc., you use and ensure that, wherever possible, when they’re not in use, they’re not only turned off but unplugged. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Turn your thermostat down in winter and up in summer, if your family’s health allows.
Next, have a solar energy expert come out and check your house for system location and sizing. Then, get several bids from solar contractors or installers, being careful to ask for references and evidence of previous installations.
Set an appointment to have the contractor you’ve chosen come and do the installation of the system you’ve picked, then sit back, knowing your worries over your ever-increasing electricity bills are at an end and that you’ve done your bit to help the planet.
There are many more questions you should ask and get the answers to before taking the leap into the wonderful world of solar, but these are amongst the more important ones, so, with these answered, you’re hopefully feeling more empowered and informed to take the next step.