Solar energy is one of the most popular kinds of renewable energy these days. You see so many homes proudly displaying gleaming, blue solar panels on their roof, and sometimes propped up on the ground.
Now while the notion of tapping into clean energy may sound appealing to you, you may be one of those who find the actual panels completely unattractive. Or maybe you’re someone who doesn’t have that much space in your house (or apartment) for such a large contraption but you still want the benefits of contributing to a cleaner environment and better managing your utility bill. Should you simply let go of your dreams to power your home with green energy? The answer is wrong.
When switching to renewables, one of the most common mistakes is not researching enough. So in this article, let me tell you how you can skip the panels when using energy.
How Solar Panels Work
Before we can even begin to understand if it’s actually possible to use solar power without needing a panel, we must first understand the most basic processes involved when harnessing the power of the sun.
In reality, there is only one scientific phenomenon responsible for turning solar energy into electricity and that’s what we call the photovoltaic effect. To make it much simpler to understand, this effect turns photons, or light energy, into electrons.
In relation to this, a solar panel initiates the photovoltaic effect through the use of several solar cells that are responsible for generating electricity. A solar panel can have at least 32 to as many as 96 cells at a time. Obviously, the more solar cells these panels can carry, the higher their generated electricity can be.
However, what you probably don’t know is that there are several kinds of solar panels that are available for residential and commercial use. These include the monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels, and thin-film panels. The first two options are both made out of a silicon material that generates solar power. These are the types of solar panels that you get to see on a regular basis.
The only difference between the two is the fact that the monocrystalline panel is made out of a single silicon crystal to generate electricity, which ultimately makes it the most expensive variant. On the other hand, the polycrystalline panel is made out of smaller pieces of silicon crystals. To distinguish the two, monocrystalline panels usually have a darker shade than the polycrystalline kind.
Meanwhile, thin-film panels are made out of different materials to capture solar energy and process that into usable power. It doesn’t generate as much electricity as the other two, but it’s the cheapest and the only portable kind.
Want to Skip the Solar Panels?
Now that we’ve established how solar power generation works, the question is, can we actually skip using solar panels for this? The obvious answer is no. If we want to get clean energy from the sun, the only way is to use solar panels.
But, there is a way for you to enjoy the benefits of solar power without having to install these big, bulky panels. These options are listed below:
- Solar-powered gadgets
This is the easiest way to use solar power at home. You can install solar-powered gadgets that can be as little as solar lights or as big as an entire solar water heater.
- Peer-to-peer Solar Sharing
If you can’t own solar panels at home for various reasons, you may ask your neighbor to share his or her panel with you. You can connect to their setup for a fee of course so you can both benefit from the power of the sun. Just be sure to ask nicely.
- Community solar
This is perhaps the most reasonable way of using solar power especially if you cannot afford to put up solar panels of your own (either because you don’t have enough space or you just can’t pay for it). Community solar means having a commercial solar power grid somewhere within your community.
As a resident, you only need to inform them of your interest to subscribe to the service and that’s about it. To know more, companies offering such services provide a community solar manual for prospective users.
Being able to use solar power is a step forward in making sure that the world becomes a better place. But you shouldn’t simply decide to go solar without understanding the ins and outs of the system. Hopefully, with this article, you are now properly equipped to buy your first solar panel or sign up for the nearest community solar company in your area.