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Applications of Solar Power

Solar power systems have become popular in recent times with the sustainable living movement and tax schemes consistently favoring their installation.  Installing a solar power system, however, may or may not make sense depending on the location and intended use.

There are two primary types of solar power systems in the modern age.  The first type are solar photovoltaic panels that generate DC electricity from solar radiation.  Solar panels can be wired in series or parallel to provide a wide range of electrical operating conditions for the end user.

The second type of solar power systems are solar thermal collectors.  These are used to generate heat which can be stored or put to immediate use.  Examples of solar thermal installations include space heating, hot water systems, pebble bed storage, or boiling water to make steam.   

Both types of solar powers systems, if chosen correctly, can greatly reduce or eliminate one’s dependence on the Electrical Grid.  They are readily adaptable for residential or larger scale business applications.

If you are serious about using solar power, then at the forefront of your thoughts should be a serious review of your climate and what you hope to accomplish with your system.  Solar power electricity and solar thermal storage can be very effective off the grid, but will only prove themselves useful in the right climate and application.  Solar power users can be broken down into 3 basic categories:

1)  No Brainer Solar Power Installations
Solar power systems are most practical in climates with consistently fair weather conditions and direct sunshine through the seasons.  Desert locations and the Rocky Mountains are two candidates for solid year round operation.  Installers in these regions can expect shorter payback times, more reliable performance, and should strongly consider them in new constructions.   

2)  Seasonal Power or Hybrid Systems
Some of us will meet the weather requirements on a seasonal basis, though endure several months per year where performance will suffer.  Locations in the northern Rockies and northern California are notorious for excellent solar power capability, but will inevitably encounter difficulties during the Winter months.  These types of climates will benefit most from hybrid power systems that use multiple sources of energy between the seasons.

3)  Marginal Installations
A number of locations have too much cloud cover throughout the year to gain much practical use from solar power.  Folks who live in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast regions of the United States are not very good candidates.  The payback times will be much longer, and other than the occasional empassioned hobbiest, most folks will have difficulty justifying their installations.  Keep in mind that cloud cover can reduce energy input by as much as 75%, resulting in a solar collection system nearly three times as large (and more expensive) than the norm.  That is not to say such systems wouldn’t be useful, however.  Some folks may be interested in a simple emergency DC backup system, in which case solar power may still be right for you.

MicroGrid Living

- MicroGrid Power Systems
- Benefits of the MicroGrid
- Running on DC Electricity
- Things to Think About
- Sizing Your Microgrid Power System
- Energy Conservation Strategies
- Hybrid Power Systems

MicroGrid Solar Power

- Solar Power Applications
- Photovoltaic Solar Panels
- Increasing Solar Panel Performance
- Mounting PV Solar Panels
- Solar Power Tracking Systems
- One Axis Solar Panel Tracking (Passive)
- Solar Power Cost & Payback
- Sizing your Solar Power System

MicroGrid Power Devices

- Wind Turbines
- Wood Burner Systems
- Thermal Power Systems
- DC Thermal Generators
- Hydro Turbines

MicroGrid History

- Nikola Tesla Source of Human Energy
- Nikola Tesla Energy from the Medium
- James Watt & the Steam Engine
- Marcellus Jacob Wind Turbine

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