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Making a Home Solar Powered

May 13, 2016

Some time back in human history people yearned and searched for an alternative means to heat and light their homes.  Eventually we discovered electricity and it was widely regarded as the saviour, our powerful servant that could do almost what ever we wanted. Even better, it could be controlled at the flick of a switch.

However, our servant has, over years become less of a saviour, the cost, both to the environment and to our heath from the extraction and burning of  coal or other fuels to generate electricity is beginning to be unacceptable to many people.  In just a few short years the earth’s population has exploded, each 1 billion extra people have been added in a decreasing time frame. As our numbers grow, the need for electricity also increases.

There have been many alternatives to electricity generation over the years but none seem to be as efficient in terms of cost and environment and health damage as Solar Energy or power from the sun.

One of the more popular uses for PV solar panels is powering a home, offering ways to cut power bills and help decrease fossil fuel use at the same time. So, just how easy is this? Can you do it yourself?

The answer of course is yes, a quick look skywards in your local neighbourhood attests to that, but maybe it is not quite as straight forward as just banging up some PV or solar panels on the roof. Probably the first consideration, after you have calculated your annual power requirements and number of solar cells or panels needed, is the location and angle of the panels.

If you are lucky, the pitch of your roof will enable solar panels without much modification, otherwise you may have to make a small sacrifice in optimum exposure to the sun or build  framing to support the panels at a better angle. This would apply to say a flat roofed dwelling. Consideration also needs to be given to the actual positioning, again, ideally the panels should be able to receive  sunlight for as long a period as possible.

In extreme cases you may need to make a decision as to when you most need to maximise the energy, for example is the morning or afternoon your heaviest time, and then position your panels accordingly.

The best situation is a fully exposed position where the panels are not shaded or partially shaded by trees or buildings, but, if this is beyond your control, solar cells do work in partial light. Think back to working outdoors on a cloudy day, in shirt sleeves. At the end of the day you will find your arms are red, the UV light has burnt your skin.

So setting your home up for solar power is not terribly difficult or, thanks to lower manufacturing costs today, terribly expensive either. There are a few things to think about but not enough to make it impossible in most cases.

Prev: Living Off the Sun

Next: How do Solar Cells Work?

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