Other Applications For Solar Energy
Solar energy can be seen in more than one form. As we all know, solar energy can create a great amount of heat. Sun rays can generate so much heat, that an egg can be fried on a sidewalk. Darker colors absorb these rays faster, which creates more heat. But there are many other applications for solar energy.
The biggest emphasis on solar energy today is on solar electric power. Photovoltaics (PVs) are used to directly convert light into electricity. This is accomplished at the atomic level. Materials that exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect, absorb photons of light. As they absorb these photons, electrons are released. When these free electrons are captured, electricity is created in the form of electric current. This electrical energy is in the form of Direct Current (DC). It can be used as DC voltage, or can be converted through an inverter to Alternating Current (AC) if desired.
Photovoltaic panels are used in a number of areas, collecting solar energy, and converting it to electrical energy. These solar panels are very popular in areas of the world where there is a lot of sun shine. California and Florida are ideal states for installing solar panels. Solar energy can be used to power homes, businesses, cars, and even small appliances. There are also solar air conditioners for homes. Solar cells can come in a number of shapes. You can even get a garden light that is solar powered.
Solar electricity can be generated anywhere in the world, even if there isn't an electric grid close-by. Solar panels can be taken on a camping trip to power lights and appliances in your camper or tent. You can now power your laptop computer when out in the wilderness, or charge your cell phone.
When using solar energy for powering homes and businesses, the electrical power is first captured as DC. A number of these solar panels are linked together, and converted to AC. The voltage is then conditioned for 120 volt AC applications. This is also converted to a frequency of 60 hertz (cycles per second) when used in the United States. Extra electricity that is generated can be fed back into the grid, causing your power meter to spin backwards. The power provider can then pay you for your solar production.
Solar cars are starting to get more attention, although it will probably be a number of years before they will be produced commercially. At the moment, solar cars aren't one of the best options when it comes to alternative vehicles. You may want to check out natural gas cars.
As you can see, there are other applications for solar energy other than for just heating water. As technologies improve, there will be more and more applications of solar energy. Its efficiency will also continue to improve.