An average person, being asked about solar energy usage, will describe solar panels (photovoltaic converters), what can be observed at many households and business properties these days. However, to truly imagine benefits of green solar energy, we should first understand its nature and the ways how solar energy can be produced and used.  There are two major parts of solar energy reaching Earth surface: infrared radiation and light. Other significant part of solar radiated energy is represented by UV, X-rays and high energy particles. Those are, fortunately, being cut off by Earth ionosphere and atmosphere, and not reaching the Earth surface in considerable amounts.


     Infrared radiation is generally being converted into heat by passive converters (heaters), and used mainly for hot water production. There are many households, especially in California, Florida and other sunny regions, where electric water heaters are being rarely used even during winter period, due to implementation of Sun heat collectors. Other way to benefit from green solar energy is just do not waste it. Another words, use the building design and materials well insulating interior from exterior. We can lower our energy needs and build an energy efficient structure by integrating south facing windows and materials that retain heat, like bricks and wall panels.


     The most well known solar energy usage is generation of electricity using semi-conductor, converting energy of sunlight into the energy of charged particles, used further to produce electric current. (The above sentence looks complex. However, it has been borrowed from grade 7 school physics book). One square meter of solar panel is capable to produce approx. 100 Watt of power, depending of sunlight conditions. Electric power is being accumulated in the batteries, to be used during night hours. Efficiency of solar panels is frankly not very high: 10-22% depending on manufacturer and sunlight conditions. This fact leads to quite a large surface area, required to produce substantial amount of electricity. Solar power setup requires an electronic charge controller, batteries and power inverter to produce an alternative current, used to power majority of home appliances.


by Alexander Lunev.


     To be continued…