Solar energy is becoming an increasingly popular source of renewable energy, with more and more people using it for their homes and businesses. Solar energy is generated by harnessing the power of the sun’s rays, which can be converted into electricity or used to heat water. The uses of solar energy are numerous and diverse, ranging from powering homes and businesses to providing energy for transportation and even space exploration.
In this blog, we will explore the different uses of solar energy and the benefits it offers to the environment and society as a whole.
Uses of Solar Energy
What are the potential uses of solar energy? Here are 20 practical ways that sunlight can be harnessed in our everyday lives.
1. Solar Electricity
In recent years, this solar energy application has experienced incredible growth.
Solar panels have become more cost-effective as more people become aware of their financial and environmental advantages, making solar electricity increasingly accessible. Though only a small proportion of U.S. electricity is generated this way (2.8%), its share is growing rapidly.
Most solar technicians install distributed solar PV systems on the roofs of homes and businesses to produce electricity that offsets property owners’ use while sending excess production back into the grid.
2. Solar Batteries & Generators
An optional solar battery can be connected to your solar power system. This setup enables you to use solar energy after sunset, as well as provide backup electricity for your home in case of emergencies. Some homeowners might choose to go completely off the grid with either a battery and solar power system or a generator plus solar power system.
3. Solar Ventilation
Solar ventilation solutions like solar attic fans can reduce your home’s cooling load in the summertime. If you don’t have space to install a full solar PV system that offsets all of your home’s electricity usage, this may be an alternative.
Similar technologies are employed in industrial applications, which can also be utilized to warm the interiors of buildings in cold climates, thereby reducing energy consumption.
4. Active Solar Water Heater Systems
Homeowners can take advantage of solar energy by using active solar water heater systems to heat their water. In addition, solar hot-water or hot-air systems can also be used to provide warmth in homes. These eco-friendly options not only reduce energy consumption but also lower utility bills in the long run.
5. Passive Solar Water Heater Systems
Passive solar water heater systems are another great way to harness the power of the sun for water heating purposes. These systems use natural convection to move water through the collector and into the storage tank, without the need for pumps or external energy sources. By relying solely on the sun’s energy, passive solar water heater systems are highly sustainable and cost-effective, making them a popular choice for environmentally-conscious homeowners.
6. Hot Water Solar Systems
Hot water solar systems employ solar collectors to heat water or another fluid like antifreeze in order to generate instantaneous warmth. Circulating pumps transport the heated water through the collector to either a storage tank or heat exchanger for immediate use.
Due to their complexity and large-scale, liquid-based solar systems are typically utilized by industries for commercial purposes. However, they also make excellent home heating sources.
7. Hot Air Solar Systems
Hot air solar systems circulate air from the sun through your home.
Solar companies often employ these systems when designing homes with superior heat absorption materials. A circulating fan distributes heated air, and this is where solar energy comes into play.
8. Solar-Powered Pumps
Pumps are necessary to circulate water in some heating systems. Unfortunately, these pumps consume energy when powered by your home’s electrical supply – exactly the kind of energy you were hoping to save by installing a solar system!
You can avoid this issue by installing a solar-powered pump. Doing so will also help save more energy since you are running your pumps 24 hours a day regardless of the sun’s position. A generator or battery backup can be installed for uninterrupted operations.
9. Swimming Pool Solar Heater
Solar swimming pool heating is a popular solar energy application in the southwest and southern U.S. The system circulates water to a collector where it receives heat from the sun before being returned back into the pool by this same system.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar pool heating is currently the most cost-effective way of using solar energy in many climates, with costs ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 and a payback period ranging from one to seven years.
10. Solar Heating for Your Hot Tub
Solar hot tubs operate similarly to swimming pools, using solar collectors for energy production.
It may come as a shock to learn that solar energy can heat hot tubs. Solar vacuum tubes are so efficient they provide even heat throughout the year, while flat plate panels make more sense in warmer climates as they generate less heat and can be avoided.
After sunset, you may still require an auxiliary heater; therefore, having both solar heater and existing heater work together is a wise idea. Solar energy can be utilized to power almost any type of lighting system.
11. Solar Landscape Lumination
Landscape lighting is the most common form of solar illumination.
Solar landscape lighting technology is both budget-friendly and widely accessible, from your local hardware store to online shopping sites like Amazon. You’ll find everything from basic designs to high-end options at these places.
These fixtures weren’t always the best, but LED technology has drastically improved their lighting. Each fixture provides enough illumination without needing wiring and comes equipped with its own solar cell and rechargeable batteries that provide enough power to run your lights throughout the night.
12. Solar Security Lighting
Solar lighting fixtures are so reliable, they can also be utilized for home security lighting purposes.
These security lights are powered by batteries that generate enough energy for them to last throughout the night, just like landscape lighting does. This is especially true of motion sensor options which store power until needed.
There are even options that deliver up to 3500 lumens, providing enough light for outdoor enjoyment and safety for your family. You no longer have to worry about products breaking down due to weather damage.
13. Solar Holiday Lights
Use solar energy to illuminate your Christmas trees this season – everyone’s budgets are tight at this time of year, so don’t let electricity prices for Christmas lights cause financial strain!
Good Housekeeping recently reviewed the best solar Christmas lights for 2022. There is a wide range of choices, from plain white string lights to creatively shaped ones.
14. Indoor Solar Lighting
Thought outdoor lighting had to be done in order for the sun’s rays to illuminate something? Think again!
Indoor solar lights feature both individual solar cells and rechargeable batteries, just like outdoor solar lights. You can position the cells for optimal sunlight exposure – meaning they don’t always need to be located near your lighting fixture.
There is a wide range of lighting options, from desk lamps and pendant lights – an innovative indoor solar lighting option featured on Mashable that increases natural light while decreasing energy consumption.
15. Solar Ovens
Solar ovens (also referred to as solar cookers) are great for when there’s no power or camping and can help save electricity costs. They work by capturing and storing heat energy from the sun’s rays.
On a hot day, imagine your car’s windows being rolled up as the sun’s thermal energy is trapped within them and heated the air inside. On particularly hot days, this can make the inside of the vehicle feel like an oven.
Solar ovens come in a range of styles and materials that you can DIY with minimal effort. Alternatively, if DIYing isn’t your style, you can purchase one ready-made from your local retailer.
16. Solar Cooler
Are you still taking an ice-packed cooler to the campground or park when it’s time for you to upgrade your coolness level? Now is the time to upgrade.
These coolers can be powered by solar energy. Solar panels generate energy for portable power stations that then transfer that power onto your cooler, keeping your food cold for longer and preventing melted ice (and soggy sandwiches).
17. Solar-Powered Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Solar-powered Bluetooth speakers work just like your wireless ones, only they’re powered by solar panels and can be charged without electricity. Solar speakers are ideal for those who spend a lot of time outdoors or on the go, such as camping or traveling.
18. Solar Calculators
Did you know solar-powered calculators have been around since the 1960s? Chances are good that you’ve used one at some point in your life. Solar calculators typically have their solar cells at the top. Since calculators require very little power to run, these cells won’t charge your battery.
19. Solar Flashlights & Lanterns
In times when power fails, the sun goes down, or you run out of batteries, solar-powered lanterns and flashlights are invaluable. With some models lasting up to 30 hours once fully charged, these items become indispensable during emergencies.
20. Wireless Solar Keyboard
Wireless keyboards offer a more comfortable typing experience, as you can place it wherever is most convenient – no need to worry about cords! Also, wireless keyboards make typing much more efficient. You won’t regret investing in a solar-powered keyboard if your batteries run out while working on an important project.
Need Help With Solar Installation?
If you’re considering installing solar panels on your home or business, ESD Solar can help! Our experienced team can guide you through the entire process, from design to installation, and ensure that you get the most out of your solar investment. With years of experience and a commitment to quality, we take pride in providing our customers with the best solar solutions that fit their needs and budget.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a brighter, more sustainable future!