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Solar power is a renewable energy source that can not only reduce a household’s carbon footprint, but also reduce the monthly utility bill. Despite its growing popularity, many Americans are still unsure on how to take advantage of this potential source of energy.

What is solar power?

Solar energy is the primary energy source for Earth. It is received in the form of sunlight. Solar power is the conversion this sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaic solar panels make it possible to convert solar energy to solar power.

How do solar panels work?

Photovoltaic solar panels can harness solar energy from direct sunlight as well as indirect sunlight (i.e. on days when it is cloudy). Photovoltaic solar panels are made using two pieces of silicon – one negatively charged and one positively charged – that are put together in glass casing with a metal frame. Silicon, as a semi-conductor, can transfer the solar energy into electricity. This happens when sunlight hits the cell, and electrons are knocked off the positively charged silicon and move toward the negative charge. While they are moving, a thin wire on the negative silicon piece acquires the free electrons, creating both an internal circuit and electrical current.  When connected to an external electrical circuit, the current can then be harnessed and utilized in different areas in ones home and business.

In layman’s terms, the silicon transfers and converts the solar energy into electricity that can be used to power homes and businesses.

What can solar power be used for?

Solar power can be used for residential, industrial, and commercial purposes. Once harnessed through the solar panels, it can be used to provide hot water for washing and heating buildings and pools, as well as air conditioning. Other innovative products that can use solar power include electric vehicles, sports stadiums, and trashcans – and new products are being created every day.

Is solar power right for you?

Solar power is a clean and renewable source of power. Not only will utilizing solar power reduce electricity bills, but also typically the local national grid will purchase excess power generated. However, there are several things to keep in mind when considering solar panels.

The location of your home and the local climate can affect where you install solar panels. Some areas are better suited for solar power systems than others. For example, photovoltaic solar panels in San Diego surpass the numbers in any other city not only in California, but also in the country – because its year-round sunny location is ideal for harnassing solar power.

Roof orientation can also make a big difference, with south facing homes being able to generate more power due to increased sun exposure. Wind speeds, shade, salt water, and heavy snow can also affect a solar panels potential. It is important to consult with a local solar panel contractor before installation to make sure that your home is right for solar power.

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