The sun brightens our days. Did you know that it can also heat and cool homes, produce hot water and provide electricity?
Solar electricity can be created by using a photovoltaic (PV) system. The solar system includes a panel consisting of tightly woven cells that absorb sunlight. These cells are called photovoltaic cells. The sun's rays hit the cells, which then releases electrons needed for energy creation. The electrons' interaction with the cell creates power.
The sun's direct heat can also generate electricity. Using mirrors to collect high intensity heat, a solar power plant produces steam or mechanical power that generates the electricity.
What does a house, an office building and hot water have in common? The sun can be used as their heating source. Solar heating systems use a solar collector and storage tank to generate heat that can warm pools, spas, hot tubs and drinking water.
Another method is called passive solar heating. The passive solar heating system uses a building's structure to generate heat. For example, these building usually have large south-facing windows and are made of materials that absorb and store heat, a process referred to as direct gain. Heat is then released through the building at night.
Solar water heaters can reduce consumers' monthly energy bills by using the sun instead of electricity or natural gas to warm a home's water. Using a well-built solar water heater is clean for the environment and will allow the nation's supply of natural gas, which is limited and expensive, to be used for other important purposes. Solar water heaters can cost thousands of dollars to purchase and install, so it is important that consumers first determine how long it will take to recoup their costs through energy savings. For more information on solar water heaters click here.
Although Ohio is not known for its sunshine, some residents have decided to invest in solar energy systems. While the up front cost of a solar unit can be expensive, it produces energy without adding pollution to the environment and reduces the nation's dependency on oil imports.
Since 2003, Ohio has participated in the national tour of solar projects. Each year solar-powered homes and businesses across the state of Ohio are open for public viewing. Green Energy Ohio coordinates the tour in Ohio. For more information click here.
In 1954, Bell Labs created the first solar cell capable of converting enough of the sun's energy to power everyday electrical equipment.
End of Page
Return to Top