The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

In these economic times, it just makes sense to look for ways to save money now and in the foreseeable future. Electrical service suppliers all across the country are warning us that the rates are going up, even during these tough economic times. It just makes sense to consider the Pros and Cons of solar energy. So here goes...

The Pros are:

*Once installed, energy from the sun is virtually free to use.

*There may be tax credits available to you to offset the cost.

*This type of power reduces your carbon footprint.

*There is potential for you to sell the excess power you produce to your electrical supplier, thereby, reducing or eliminating your electric service bill.

*Energy from the sun can be generated anywhere, even if there is no electric service provider available.

*Once your system is installed you are not affected by inflation or the increase in prices from the electrical supplier.

*Systems powered by the sun do not require any fuel other than light and/or heat so is not affected by the supply and demand of fuel.

*Upon installation, the savings are immediate and for many years to come.

*These systems are virtually maintenance free and will last for many decades.

The Cons are:

*Solar systems are expensive to install.

*Solar panels can take up a lot of space.

*Solar panels do not work at night, so you have to have a storage system.

*Power from the sun is not as efficient in bad weather and may be affected by pollution.

*If your roof is not oriented in a specific angle to the sun, your installation may be less effective, or even impossible.

So what methods are used to harness energy from the sun? There are two forms of power from the sun; thermal energy or heat, and light energy or photovolataics.

Solar thermal technologies are used to collect the sun’s heat. You will find this type of thermal collector used for both residential and commercial applications to heat spaces, and heat water.

Applications of solar thermal technologies include:

*Low temperature collectors, used as pool heaters, space heaters and water heaters.

*Medium temperature collectors, used as water heaters, cooking, disinfecting, distillation and desalination of water.

*High temperature collectors, used as heat engines, solar power towers, dish designs, and Fresnel reflectors and lenses

Photovoltaics is the technology that is in fact what most people are referring to when they refer to “solar energy”. Photovoltaics (aka PV) technology converts light energy directly into an electric current. This power may be used immediately, or stored in some sort of a device such as a battery and used later.

Applications of photovoltaics (PV) include:

*PV power stations

*PV integrated in buildings, such as roof tiles and roof panels

*PV in stand alone devices, such as calculators, lighting, and emergency telephones

*Rural electrification for remote homes and businesses that are off the grid

When considering the Pros and Cons of solar energy you need to take into account two things; the cost of a particular sun powered product and its installation, and, the potential savings associated with the product.