Where Would You Find Solar Energy Panels?

Solar energy is the heat and light that comes from the sun. Since the beginning of recorded history, humans have been using that heat. In the most recent past, people have developed ways to collect the solar energy and store it or use it in other ways. Using solar energy reduces the costs of energy over the long-term.

Only a very small percentage of the solar energy is able to be collected. Estimates range from 5 – 15%. How do we capture and use that energy? There are two basic categories: active and passive.

Actively Collecting Sunlight

Active methods of collection and use include using solar thermal collectors, photovoltaic panels for solar energy collection, pumps, and fan systems. The equipment used to run these can be electrical or mechanical, but the end result is a system has been manufactured to collect and process sunshine.

Passive Collection For Buildings

Passive collection is the opposite. It means taking advantage of the natural properties of sunlight. For example, it could be placing a new building in the right direction to take advantage of the sunshine, using materials that have light dispersing properties, or designing places that offer good air circulation. These are generally measures that are done at the architecture and building stage, and are intended to provide life-long savings to the building owners.

And The Award Goes To. . .

So which wins between active and passive? They have different functions. Active is usually considered the “supply side” of the equation. It’s the part that provides more energy to the building and its people. On the other hand, passive solar methods reduce the need for other resources and energies, and are considered “demand side” methods. Both work well together, and should be considered whenever their use is warranted.

Now, let’s take a look at photovoltaics – also known as solar energy panels – and how and where they are used.

Agriculture – All About The Sun!

One prime place that solar energy panels have been used is in the field of agriculture and horticulture. The more efficiently growers can use the energy of the sun, the greater their yield will be. There are many passive methods incorporated, such as staggering heights between rows, timed planting cycles, etc. Some areas with a much shorter growing season have used “fruit walls” to help collect solar energy. These help keep the plants warm and extend the growing season in a passive manner.

Solar energy has also been used for pumping water, brooding chicks, and drying crops. A prime use of solar energy panels in recent years is to run grape presses at vineyards.

Turning On The Lights – Naturally

“Daylighting” systems use sunlight to meet the needs for illumination inside buildings. This effectively replaces artificial lighting, and also reduces the need for air conditioning. There are many psychological benefits to working under natural lighting (rather than artificial lighting) and

While much of a daylighting system is passive, incorporating careful window choices, etc., in some places solar energy panels collect the sunlight during the day to use throughout the building after the sun goes down.
In Hot Water?
Solar energy panels are very useful when it comes to heating water. Whether for inside the home for out in the pool, solar energy panels can greatly decrease the cost of heating water for all uses.