There are many ways to add solar to your life. If you think about going solar but are not sure how you would use solar power, these essential everyday aspects of solar use can help you get started.
Most people think about solar as a source of electricity. The application ranges from powering homes, businesses, and factories to remote living and off-grid living. Also included is the option to recharge everyday gadgets such as cell phones with a portable solar panel.
In this blog, we discuss:
- Should you use solar panels and if so why
- What can solar energy do for you and the world around you
- Uses of solar energy at home and at work
- How to get started using solar
- FAQ from people new to solar energy
While many of these examples demonstrate the “power” of solar electricity, you don’t have to power your entire home or business with solar. Instead, you can create smaller arrays that power specific things, such as the heating unit for a swimming pool or a home or business heating and cooling system.
Your home, business, or factory can remain tied to the public grid either as a backup electrical source or as your primary source of electricity. Here is more information on that discussion.
Should solar panels be used?
Absolutely. Adding solar to your home, business, or factory is an easy way to recede the carbon footprint of that space. Since solar power is essentially green energy, it is clean – meaning its creation contributes a finite amount of dirty energy during the creation of the panels.
Then for the next quarter of a century, those solar panels produce green energy. There is no additional greenhouse gas production once the solar panels are created.
Solar panels should be used for:
- The environment – because solar power helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce carbon footprints, and support the local and national environment.
- Cost-effective Energy Consumption – Use solar power to energize your entire house or specific features, such as heavy energy-consuming appliances like a clothes dryer. The more solar energy you use to power your house, the smaller your monthly electrical bill becomes.
- Reduce the Overhead for Your business – Solar energy can drop the cost of operating your business. Use solar to run the HVAC or AC unit, power the lights, or even equipment.
- Transportation – Use solar power to recharge your electric vehicle or hybrid.
- House and business power hogs – solar power helps with lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and other uses. An example would be a data collection center using solar power to run the chilling tanks that keep the servers cool and within safe operating temperatures.
If you are still wondering if solar panels have a place in your life, keep reading. From the minor uses to complete power supply, solar panels offer something for everyone.
How is solar energy used in everyday life?
Solar energy has many uses, and they range from small conveniences to primary power supplies. An excellent example of how we can use solar power in our everyday lives is charging our cell phones.
You can use a portable solar panel to charge a battery bank. With that power and storage system, you have a mobile power supply to charge your cell phone and other electronic gadgets.
Commuting: Solar energy also has a role in commuting from point A to point B and the plethora of places in between. Solar energy can power:
- Electric vehicles – Cars, trucks, semi-trucks, and transport vehicles including busses
- Trains and other modes of transportation
We hop on the subway or cross-country train in everyday life, and we may not even realize we are being transported by solar energy. Even the elevator or escalator at work may be powered by solar energy.
Lighting: is another option for solar energy. Streetlights, home lighting, and other sources of illumination can easily be solar-powered. Even emergency lighting for sighs for roadwork, emergency call boxes along highways, and other remote applications often have a solar component.
Homelife: from running appliances to running the entire household. With options for grid-tied, off-grid, and hybridized connections, solar power options are available to power every aspect of home life, including:
- Temperature and ambient zones
- And more
The result is that solar already fits into our lives in ways we rarely notice. Can solar do more for us? Absolutely. Solar power allows us to use the best of our appliances without considerable cost.
Turn up the heat, turn down the AC, wash clothes whenever you want, heat the pool and hot tub, and more. In addition, solar power means cheaper energy consumption.
What can solar panel energy be used for?
What solar power cannot be used for may be a short question? We already use solar energy for most things. Solar energy integrates without a local power grid, and through your local utility, you can sign up to use solar energy.
You pay a slightly higher rate, but you are sponsoring the production of more solar energy.
Improve our Environment – Solar energy is a source of clean power, so we can use solar energy to increase the benefits to the environment by decreasing the size of our solar footprint.
In addition, solar energy is so versatile that you can use it for just about anything that requires a source of power.
For Mobile Applications – Solar energy is perfect for those of us on the go. Its uses range from a caravan and off-road applications to metropolitan and off-grid living. In addition, it is highly mobile, so you can use it to charge your gadgets on the go or use it at home to power your world.
Sized to Fit our Energy Needs – The size of solar is all about you. You can go small for little chores, step up to uses that run aspects of your home or business, or go all-in for complete solar energy production. Even cars and vehicles, from bikes to boats, can become solar-powered.
How do I start using solar power?
You can start using solar power by thinking about your energy goals. What is it you want solar energy to do for you? Then, solar energy can begin to solve minor energy issues that you have.
- Start small – Maybe you want a way to recharge your bicycles lights so that you can pedal home after work, even it is dark. That solution involves a rechargeable solar bank. Charge the power bank using a mobile solar panel. You can plug the bike lights directly into the solar bank, and you are free to pedal even at night.
- Maybe you want to use solar power to fill up the hybrid or electric car at night. What a fantastic way to gain free fuel! You’d need a few solar panels and a battery backup system. The panels will charge the batteries, and the batteries will recharge the car while you sleep. The process is very sustainable.
These examples get you started using solar energy. But what if you want to go big with solar? That’s possible too. You would need to estimate the amount of solar energy that you need to achieve your energy goals. How much energy does your home use? How much energy would it take to power a swimming pool heater, filter, and pump?
By asking those types of questions, you begin understanding how much solar energy you need. From there, you can calculate the size of a solar array or even a single panel (depending on your project) to produce X amount of energy.
How can I use solar panels at home?
You have two options for using solar panels in a home setting:
- Fixed installation
- Mobile panels
Fixed installation can range from powering your entire house to powering specific applications, such as your HVAC or if you have a swimming pool, the pool’s heater, and pump.
For mobile applications, you can use a mobile solar panel or string of panels to auxiliary power components, such as a mobile phone, outdoor lighting, or take power outside where an outlet is unavailable.
Use of solar panels at home include:
- Solar stations for recharging electric vehicles
- Indoor and outdoor lighting
- Appliances, such as washers and dryers
- HVAC, AC, and Heaters
- Entertainment systems, both indoor and outdoor applications
The key is that you don’t have to go 100 percent solar. You can start with smaller projects that begin to lower your monthly utility bill. The most significant electrical usage in homes is generally the HVAC, AC, or heaters.
Adding a solar module to cover the energy requirements for just that aspect can lead to huge savings. With a grid-tied system, you may not even require a solar battery backup system. The savings, however, will increase with a solar battery backup system.
You can monitor energy production, stored energy levels, and adjust energy usage to remain on target with your solar goals thanks to smart technology.
Another positive aspect of going solar in small steps is that you begin to lower your carbon footprint and reduce dirty energy usage.
Ten uses of solar energy
Solar energy is so easy to add to one’s lifestyle. Here’s our top ten list of uses of solar energy. You can also use this list to identify areas where you can start to use solar.
Where do I start with solar panels?
- Transportation – Solar energy is an excellent source, from recharging electric vehicles to sustaining power to run mass transportation systems.
- Improving the Environment – Solar energy is clean energy, so using it allows us to decrease our dependence on dirty energy and reduce our carbon footprint.
- To power lighting systems – in-home, at work, or school, lighting is an easy chore for solar energy.
- To Increase Energy Independence – With solar energy, we are no longer 100 percent reliant on public utilities to provide the energy that runs our lives.
- To Increase the Quality of our Lives – with solar energy, you can afford to add more significant energy usage features to your home, such as a swimming pool.
- To Power Our Lives Away from Home – including mobile usage of solar panels for camping, backpacking, or to recharge your cell phone wherever you are.
- To Reduce Energy Costs – Solar panels help us to reduce the monthly energy costs at homes. For businesses, solar can reduce the monthly cost of doing business.
- To Change the Way, We Live – with more options for solar, things like vehicles that run 100% on the fossil-fuels decrease in necessity.
- To Power Trade – We use solar energy to power some container ships that transport goods worldwide. We use solar energy to power trains and semi-trucks that transport goods across the nation.
- To Store Energy or Produce Energy in Remote Locations – Solar can be a way to bring a quality of life to off-grid locations or to supply energy in places where the electrical grid does not reach.
The truth is that there are so many positive ways to use solar energy.
How to use solar panels effectively
Solar energy is easy to add to your life. Here are three ways to effectively use solar panels to produce energy.
How is the best way to use solar power?
- The first step in using solar panels effectively is to understand your energy production requirements. Look at how you use energy. If you need to make adjustments to your energy usage, you can do that.
- The second step is to use innovative technology. As you add solar power to your lifestyle, pay attention to how much energy your array produces, when peak energy usage hours occur, and whether your solar array keeps up with energy demand, especially at night.
- The third step is to make smart changes. As appliances die, be sure to opt for energy-efficient units, especially for units that consume large amounts of power, such as HVAC, clothes dryers, heating units, etc.
By constantly adjusting your energy usage and taking opportunities to reduce energy usage through smart purchases, you will find it much easier to use solar energy in your home or business effectively.
Is it better to use electricity during the day with solar panels?
It is better to use solar energy than using grid energy. So, if you are wondering if it is better to rely on solar power only during the day, the answer is no.
That scenario is an excellent place to start with solar power, but to produce the most savings and the best benefits, you would want to use solar power 24-hours per day. That means installing a solar battery backup system.
Relying on on-grid electricity during the night leaves you vulnerable to having no power if the grid fails. You could supplement with a generator, but it is just as easy to add solar batteries to your array and rely 100% on your system.
You could remain grid-tied to cover energy needs when solar energy is not enough.
How do you charge something with a solar panel?
How you charge a device with solar is all about safely making an electrical circuit. Solar panels produce DC currents, and most gadgets use AC energy. You would need to connect the solar panel to a solar inverter, then invert the DC energy to AC energy.
From the inverter, you would wire a plug or wire the inverter to a power box where you could plug in different t types of plugs, such as three-prong plugs, cell phone cords, etc.
If you are using a portable kit, chances are the kit comes with all of these features, and all you would have to do is connect the solar panel to the device.
How to use a solar panel to charge a battery
Whether you are charging a solar battery backup system or the internal battery in a cell phone, the solar circuit would consist of:
- Solar panels
- Solar controllers
The solar panel will send DC energy to the solar controller, which will read the charge levels in the battery and make a decision as to how much energy to send to the battery.
How do you use solar panel controls?
The job of a solar controller is to protect the battery from overcharging. When overcharging occurs, battery damage happens, and if the overcharging continues, the battery can explode or catch fire.
There are different types of solar controllers, but they generally work by shutting on and off power to the batteries as the batteries become fully charged.
- Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar | Department of Energy
- Benefits of Residential Solar Electricity | Department of Energy
- Planning a Home Solar Electric System | Department of Energy
- Solar explained Solar energy and the environment – EIA
- Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics | Department of Energy
- Solar Photovoltaic Technology Basics | NREL