Solar energy ?

How does it work ? Would it be possible to use it for everything we do that requires electricity ? Or do we only use it to heat water ? I’m confused :/ Are there cars which only use solar energy ?
Thanks !

9 thoughts on “Solar energy ?”

  1. I think pooh bear is on the right track with a very complete answer

    The only things I can add would be:
    1. New technology multi layer PV panels are now being made to improve electric output so that solar cars will be practical soon;
    2. A combination of these technologies for home use (IE capturing the heat from the solar electric panels or concentrating and storing the heat using stirling engine transport methods) is a way that engineers are creating higher efficiency use of the sun. Electrical and heating / cooling energy from a smaller more efficient units.

  2. There are a couple of different home solar systems, there are solar water heaters and solar pv systems. The water heater heats water, and most of those systems need a back up for when there is not enough sunlight to heat the water. I have a solar pv system which produces the majority of my electric needs for my house. It was a big investment, but should break even within 6 years. My system is hooked to the grid so my meter runs backwards during the day when I’m producing more than I need and forward at night when my system can’t produce electricity. It has cut my bill by 75-90% depending on the time of year. The electrical system in my house didn’t change, just the source.

    There are prototype cars that run on solar only, but they aren’t practical yet. There is an annual challenge to see who can build a solar car with the best range or speed.

  3. We are using solar panels, however – they are producing energy at a very very slow rate, one much slower that would ever drive a car.

    Research is being done on how to obtain more energy from sunlight, like plants make photosynthesis.

  4. 1. Photoelectric cells convert the solar radiation to electrical energy.
    2. In theory yes. But it would require a great number of solar panels.
    3. It is used to heat water in many ares. this is the most efficient form of solar energy use.
    4. There was a race that was organized back in the 1990’s where solar powered cars raced across Australia. They were not very reliable nor efficient.

  5. My mom and I have a solar panel at our house. It draws energy from the sun and we have an agreement with the local electric company that whenever we need to compensate for any normal electricity we use, but we haven’t had this problem yet. They do charge us a small fee everymonth but for a nice sized house that always has family members stopping by and visitors we pay, like $30/month.

    We have a well system at our house so I’m not sure about the water thing.

  6. There are several ways we can harness solar energy:

    Solar panels are large plates of silicon that have a special coating on them. When exposed to sunlight, the coating becomes electrically charged, and voila, you have electricity. The downside is that it’s not very efficient for the amount of space you need. For instance, you’d need to cover most of your house’s roof with panels to generate enough electricity to run your house. And at night, well, no sun means no power. Roof top systems are configured to sell power back to the electric company. This shows up as a credit on your monthly bill and helps lower your overall cost of electricity.

    There have been some experiments done with solar powered cars. Many universities compete in a race consisting of solar powered cars built by their students. Some other people with hybrid cars have put solar panels on their roof to help recharge their car’s batteries while driving down the road. However, until we figure out how to make more powerful solar cells and better batteries, it’s likely that cars powered completely by solar energy will remain a curiosity.

    Another way to use solar energy is solar heating. This consists of a large metal box, painted black, that has copper piping running in a dense zig-zag pattern inside of it. Black absorbs heat, so placed in the sun the box becomes very hot. As cooler water enters the box from one end, and zig-zags through the pipes inside, it picks up some of the heat so that it leaves the box warmer than when it entered. These are commonly used for swimming pools. A small water pump draws water from the swimming pool and sends it through black box, where it’s slightly heated before returning to the pool. This way the pool is warmed without having to use gas or electricity to heat the water. It’s also possible to use this system to help keep the water inside your water heater warm without having to use the gas or electricity in the heater. It won’t replace your gas or electric water heater, but it can help you use less energy – saving you money and helping the planet.

    A third way we can use solar energy is in the form of a solar furnace. Surely you’ve used a magnifying glass in the sunlight and noticed if you focus the light on a piece of paper, it will eventually catch fire. Well, that’s the same idea behind a solar furnace. Using mirrors and lenses, the sun’s energy is redirected and focused onto a tank or a section of pipe. Inside is water or some other liquid, which is then turned into pressurized steam, which is then used to turn a turbine that generates electricity. This is basically the same idea behind old steam powered locomotives, and is also how nuclear power plants produce electricity.

    There are still challenges we need to deal with for solar power. Solar panels are difficult and expensive to make and you need a lot of them to produce any significant amount of electricity. There’s also the problem with places that don’t get as much sunlight – such as places up north during the Winter – and of course night time when the sun’s not out at all. Solar furnaces are still under experimentation. They’re still fairly expensive to build and also require a lot of space because of all the mirrors and lenses, not to mention once the sun goes down, they also stop working.

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