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How Energy Efficiency Prepares Texas Residents for Climate Extremes?

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What You Should Know about Solar Energy

October 16, 2014
by dmirza

Solar energy is getting a big foothold in Texas and is growing at a rapid pace, just as wind power started doing a few years ago. If you’re looking into solarizing your home, there are a few things to consider, such as the purpose of the solar energy and the means of installation. Fortunately, this handy guide can help you in making the decision to go solar. What You Should Know about Solar Energy We all know that solar energy comes from the sun, but do you know how it gets turned into electricity? More than likely, the first thing to come to mind is the big panels of dark glass that collect solar energy. These are called solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. The PV cells absorb the sunlight and convert it to electricity which is sent to a local power grid. In the case of solarizing your home, the local power grid is your house itself. There are a couple of ways to install solar PV cells for your home: arrays and film. Solar arrays are the most commonly found method of harnessing solar energy. You might see a single panel mounted at the corner of a roof or an entire set of panels covering the roof itself. Either way, these panels absorb light and output electricity. A single panel can output 10-300 watts of energy. The more panels linked in the array, the more energy they generate. Rooftops typically have a fixed array, meaning they always face the same direction. There are also tracking arrays that follow the sun across the sky. The thing is, the panels generate more electricity if they receive direct light, so it’s best to install them somewhere where the sun shines straight at them. Tracking arrays follow the sun, so they always generate the maximum amount of energy possible. Solar film is considerably thinner than a solar panel and can therefore be affixed to more locations. The film is quite versatile and can even double as roof tiles for a house. The film can be applied to building facades, skylights, and atria. Of course, their versatility comes at a price: it is considerably more expensive than panels and may not be as effective. For residential use, a fixed array on the roof of your home may be the most cost effective plan for solarizing your home. Make sure you can align them to pick up a lot of sunlight during the day; align them to face more south and west if possible. Solar energy makes for very cheap electricity and is very beneficial to the environment. As a bonus, if you generate enough energy to meet your home’s needs, the excess can be sold back to the power company.

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