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Solar Energy Solar Panels

Solar power is one of the cleanest sources of energy generation in the world. In 2010, solar power saw a consolidation of the industry, thanks to stronger policies being introduced worldwide and the cheapening of the technology. There are several ways to harness solar energy, solar panels being the most common and most accessible to individuals who would like to live off grid or to cut down on their dependence on utilities.

Solar energy from solar panels can be used to generate electricity or heating. These solar panels are called photovoltaic panels (PV) and are mainly made of silicon, although new, slimmer panels called thin-film solar cells can use, besides thin-film silicon, copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and Cadmium Telluride, which is a cheaper and more common type of material, although it can pose a health hazard if not managed properly. The solar panels capture sunlight, turn it into electricity and then store it in a battery bank. When the battery charges drop below a certain level, the solar panels recharge them with solar energy. Usually solar energy panels are mounted on a rooftop or a freestanding solar array rack.

Solar heating systems are also popular methods to capture solar energy via solar panels. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they can reduce the need for conventional water heating by two thirds, which means great savings, besides mitigating the user’s dependency on fossil fuels that emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Solar heating systems consist of a solar collector (a solar energy panel) and a storage tank. The collector will heat the water, which is held in the storage tank, ready for use. Like solar power from solar panels to generate electricity, solar heating systems can co-exist with a conventional system to provide additional heating, or, depending on the amount of available sunshine, they can provide enough heating by themselves.