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Common Uses for Solar Energy

Jessica PirroJanuary 17, 202012981

With the growing popularity of the solar power industry in the past decade, it was only a matter of time before major advancements were made to solar energy technology. Now there are so many gadgets and technologies that have people wondering how solar energy is used. Regardless if it’s powering transportation with renewable energy, or charging your cell phone with solar power, the list of solar energy uses seems endless!

What is Solar Energy Used For?

Solar energy uses the light coming from the sun to create solar power, regardless of the method of capturing the sunlight is with solar panels or through concentrated solar power for solar heating. The energy conversion allows solar energy to be used to power cars, lights, pools, heaters, gadgets and more.

There’s no doubt that the solar power systems that are available on the market are getting more and more complex. Below are going to be the best examples of different uses of solar energy: there’s solar power transportation, solar energy technologies, solar lighting, solar heating systems, and rooftop solar panel installations.

Solar Power Transportation

A new way to practice to effectively make use of the sunshine with transportation powered by solar energy. Railroads, subways, buses, planes, cars and now even roads will all be powered with solar power, and solar energy transit is becoming more popular in the renewable energy sector. The solar power aircraft Solar Impulse 2 made its way around the world, flying across the entire Pacific. Then there are also solar power buses that are helping to reduce the carbon footprint while maintaining efficient mass transit in more populated cities. Solar power cars are also growing more and more popular as well, and they are even making their way to racing competition, particularly in Australia where the SolarSpirit model had gained more recognition. With all of the advancements, it’s expected that solar power is transforming the transportation sector worldwide.

Wearable Solar Cells

Powering consumer electronics has become quite a common solar power users worldwide. There are solar power chargers that can charge anything from a cell phone to an iPad or a tablet. There are even solar power flashlights that are charged by sticking them in the sunlight. Here’s a list of some of the top solar energy technologies when it comes to solar power devices.

- Cell phones.

- Wearable solar cells.

- Music speakers.

- Solar power air conditioning.

- Tablets.

- Thermostats.

- Solar power dryers.

- Solar energy visor radios.

- Freezers/mini-fridges.

- Rechargeable flashlights.

As the world moves away from fossil fuels and seeks renewable energy for everyday electronics, there is no doubt that solar power is going to continue to adopted by the masses for any product that can be exposed to the sunlight. The main goal is to use solar energy products to reinvent the way that we think about power usage and reverse the expectation for how devices should be charged. As the conversion efficiency of solar energy continues to improve, this trend is going to expand into the new markets and new products.

Wearable solar cells may soon make their way to Apple Watches and Fitbits a lot more appealing to consumers. Adding solar cells to smartwatches means that they aren’t going to need to be plugged in a recharged every night. However, the real question is going to be, will these large technology companies be able to integrate wearable solar cell technology into their products before emerging brands beat them to it.

Solar Lighting

One of the easiest ways to improve home efficiency is by adding outdoor solar lighting to your property. Unlike traditional exterior lights, solar lighting requires no complicated setup as the lights are wireless and harness sunlight during the day to circumvent the need for grid-supplied electricity at night. Though solar lighting is not as common as solar panels, they are quickly joining the likes of LED lightbulbs and smart home thermostats as a low-cost product that can reduce electric bills and will improve the efficiency of your home.

Also, the look of modern solar lighting can significantly improve the outdoor decor of a property. Elaborate lighting arrays can improve the exterior design of a property, often as cheap as $20 a light, and you can buy them at most major home retail stores. The availability and low cost of these lighting products are one reason that it is so common to see solar power street lights.

Solar Heating System

A lot of homeowners aren’t aware solar heating systems, like solar thermal water heaters and solar energy space heaters, are a very effective way to heat your home, without making the large investment of getting a solar panel installation. Solar energy space heaters harness the sunlight and convert it into solar thermal energy with the use of liquid or air as a medium, while solar energy water heaters use water as a method for solar thermal transfer. The solar heating system can either be passive or active solar power systems utilize natural circulation, active solar power systems use pumps to circulate water and generate heat. Homeowners who install a solar thermal system on their roof can expect 5 to 10 percent returns with a solar power system that is going to cost a fraction of full solar panel installation.

A huge benefit of solar thermal technology is the ability to heat your pool at a more cost-effective rare than conventional alternatives like oil and gas pumps. If you’re wondering how solar-heated pools work? The technology uses a solar collector that harnesses sunlight and converts it into heat. Water well then be drawn through the collector to heat the pool. This technology can also be used to cool the water at night time. The cost of solar heating systems will range from between $3,000 and $4,000 and able to provide a payback period as short as one and a half years.

A Rooftop Solar Panel Installation 

With so many new solar power products hitting the solar energy industry, it’s pretty easy to overlook the most important use of solar power, rooftop solar panel installations. While solar energy can be used for airplanes and charge a battery, it can also be used to save homeowners thousands of dollars every year by cutting their energy use, carbon footprint, and utility bills.

As you consider the different ways to go solar, you should be sure to first estimate your potential solar energy savings and see what investing in a solar panel installation could do your household finances. Using solar power products and home improvements to improve the efficiency of one’s home is a great practice, but at the end of the day, the biggest opportunity to improve one’s carbon footprint and electric bill are going to be with a home solar panel installation.

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