How To Get Started With Solar Energy.
By Tim McBride
I know you have heard time and time again that solar energy is very expensive, only obtainable by the very rich. Well this just isn't the truth. In fact solar energy is the most cheapest form of energy on the planet. Solar Energy is the oldest form of energy used by human beings living on this planet. Most peoples of the Earth simply use solar energy without much thought. It is their way of life and has sustained them for millions of years.
Well I know you are wanting to hear about solar energy in these modern times, not some hunter gatherer tribes living within the jungles of nature.
Well if you are interested in energizing your basic electronics with solar power it is very easy to accomplish. A small photovoltaic module placed against a south facing window will generate plenty of solar power to recharge and maintain all of your small electronics such as cell phones, ipods, radios, cd players, iphones, recorders, blackberrys, lap tops, ebook readers, digital cameras, flashlights, electric tooth brushes, hair clippers, fans, reading lights,cordless power tools … Etc. The list goes on and on but you get the picture. A lot of products have the solar energy built right in such as yard, and garden walkway lights, calculators, emergency radios, watches, flashlights, security lights, motion detectors, cameras, electric fences, fountains, lawn mowers, solar cars, ventilators, ... etc. The direct practical applications of solar energy is limited only to the imagination of the inventors. Well now lets talk a bit about the components involved in building a small solar electric power plant. The main component of course is the photovoltaic module placed in an area to intersect with photons streaming from the Sun or other light source. The PV module is producing electricity in the form of, D.C or direct current. This is the exact type of electricity most small electronics use, but do to the over all use of A.C. electricity in homes most requires a inverter type transformer that changes the AC to DC.
In designing your system a small inverter will be required for certain applications, but we want the best of both worlds so a outlet for DC and AC can be easily accomplished without much fuss. A D.C. converter will prove to be helpful when changing the voltage for various D.C. specifications.
Okay now that we have our small electronics/appliance/communication solar power station we may need some hot water to clean up with. Well hot water is one application the Sun does best. A small solar hot water collector can be easily built out of simple plumbing components from your local hardware store. Some solar showers can be bought from a outdoor sports/camping/hunting supply store, along with many other personal hygiene products. A factory built solar hot water collector is actually pretty cheap when you are just building a simple hot water station for outdoor or indoor shower solar powered bathroom or both. We like both for hot water is useful all around the habitat. Now, we need a water supply to feed our solar hot water system. This can be simply a rain water collection cistern, a small PV powered pump, ( submersible) in a stream, pond, or lake nearby, a water well, or utility supplied water source if near a city or town. Okay simply locating a water tank just below the roof line, in a attic, or outside water tower will activate a gravity forced feed to any water outlet below that event. This assures a water pressure source by gravity alone whether day or night, rain or shine, 24/7. Now all we do now is supply this raised tank to our thermosiphon solar hot water collector in which will supply solar heated hot water to another raised tank elevated above the collector. This solar hot water system is very elegant in the fact it doesn't use any electricity to accomplish the hot water necessity.
Okay as you have seen in this article that to get started with solar energy can be easy, inexpensive, and fun and at the end of the Day exciting! That you for One has actually begun a adventure with a Star in a nearby sky. Our Own Beloved SUN.