Solar energy is energy derived from the Sun’s radiation. The Sun is an powerful source of energy and provides the Earth with as much energy every hour as we collectively use in a year worldwide. It is important that we continue to harness and increase our use of solar energy (and other clean, renewable energies) as fossil fuels become depleted, expensive, and fall out of favor with their consumers. As the global demand for energy grows and conventional energy resources become increasingly costly to extract, people are looking to the power of the Sun. Solar has been growing exponentially for the last 20 years, while the price of photovoltaic (PV) cells has dropped 20% whenever manufacturing capacity doubles; PV cell prices are 99% lower now than they were in 1976. It is no longer the cost-prohibitive energy source it once was. Solar power is important because every beam of light that we can convert into electricity is another step in reducing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Also by investing in the clean energy economy, we can help ensure energy security right here in America and create millions of jobs without the need to outsource. Each year more and more people are investing in their own energy portfolios by installing solar panels on their homes, but not everyone has that option (e.g. due to home ownership, geographic location, home orientation, etc.). For the latter, Panasun allows people to become investors in solar projects to earn competitive returns while also helping out the environment.
When one thinks of solar power, PV or solar panels come to mind. Even within the category of PV there are many applications and variants of the technology, but fundamentally, PV enables us to directly convert sunlight into electricity. Semiconductor materials (like those used in computers) make up solar cells and are used to convert photons (e.g. light) to electricity. PV arrays consist of solar cells which can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The PV array on a house generating electricity is likely made of traditional crystalline silicon. Alternatively, thin film solar utilizes stacked semiconductors only a few micrometers thick that can be applied as roof shingles or solar window tinting to generate electricity. What thin film gains in versatility and price reductions, it loses in terms of conversion efficiency. Typical solar cells have an efficiency of around 15%, although there are models that are up to 21% efficient.
Concentrated Solar Power
Concentrated solar power is not a type of energy that can be installed on top of one’s home or building. It requires the use of many mirrors across a broad expanse of land that focuses the power of the Sun on a fixed tower. The tower contains salt that is heated by the concentrated sunlight where it functions similar to a battery to store heat and generate steam after the Sun sets. The design can also be altered so that parabolic trough-shaped mirrors can concentrate sunlight onto a tube containing fluid, generating steam and then electricity.
How to get solar panels for your home
Getting the best deal on solar panels for your home starts with telling us a little bit about your home and current electricity usage. Then we can develop a free quote customized to your home with a no money down financing option. If those savings are appealing to you, then it’s time to schedule your installation and start saving money from the sun!
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How Do Solar Panels Work?
In addition to being the ultimate source of all life on earth, the sun is an infinitely renewable, completely pollution-free source of electricity. Instead of burning fossil fuels dug up from the ground in a big power plant – a very 19th century, industrial age approach, when you think about it – solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, with no harmful emissions.
The basic unit of a solar panel is a solar cell, which usually consists of one or two layers of silicon-based semiconductor wafers. When struck by the photons in sunlight, the solar cell generates an electrical charge due to the "photovoltaic effect" – which is a pretty good name, since it produces voltage from photons. The flow of these electrons moves in a steady electrical current from one side of the cell to the other.
Dozens of these PV cells are packaged together into solar modules, which in turn are packaged into solar panels that are mounted on a rooftop and arranged to maximize their hours of exposure to direct sunlight. Because the electricity generated by all those solar cells is direct current (DC), it is then sent to an inverter that transforms the power into the same alternating current (AC) used by the appliances in your home and the local utility electricity distribution grid. Increasingly, these inverters are getting "smart," providing data monitoring for solar installation performance and other grid integration services.
This compatibility with the grid is important, because for a variety of reasons most solar homes only use solar to provide a portion of their electricity needs, relying on local utility supplies for backup when the sun isn't shining or if extra power is needed. The electricity produced by these panels is integrated seamlessly into your existing electricity service, so you can go solar without having to worry about your lights dimming every time a cloud passes overhead.
Not Cutting the Cord – Lowering Your Energy Costs
Understanding that solar panels work with your existing electricity service instead of replacing it completely is key to understanding the economics behind the solar boom. Solar panel prices have plummeted in recent years, as the industry achieves greater and greater economies of scale – much like the production of computer chips, which makes sense since both technologies rely on silicon-based semiconductors. These declining costs for solar panels are a big reason why solar PV is everywhere these days, whether as part of your solar-charging backpack or huge power plants in the desert.
The home solar boom isn't just about the price of the panels themselves though – it's also about the availability of solar financing that allows homeowners to pay for those solar panels (and their installation) in regular installments over a long period of time, instead of paying for everything up front. These payments are usually lower than what they pay for the equivalent amount of electricity from their utility. Thus, instead of paying one big utility bill every month, you pay a smaller combined amount from the payments on your solar system plus a much lower utility bill.
Thanks to this combination of low panel prices and low-cost financing, today solar power is as much about the green in your wallet as greening the planet. Mosaic has been a pioneer in solar financing from day one, and we think our Mosaic Home Solar Loan offers the easiest way to go solar as well as the best economic value for homeowners– in fact, the average Mosaic customer saves over $67,000 in electricity costs over the life of their solar installation! You can read this page on how we do it, or just click here to get started with a quick, free solar quote.