By Amy Levin-Epstein for Green Goes Simple
Solar power is the next green frontier, with websites promoting DIY
kits and local governments offering rebates for installation. But how
does solar energy work? And are rooftop panels the only way to use it? I
turned to Caroline Howell, owner of GreenBeanie, a green home and
lifestyle consulting firm based in Southern California, to shine some
light on solar power.
Solar panels seem to be an increasingly popular way to power homes. How do they work?Solar
panels are installed on a roof or area with good sunlight exposure. The
panels are made up of photovoltaic (a.k.a. PV) cells, which capture
sunlight and create energy. The power is then transferred to an
inverter, which converts it to electricity. From there, it travels to
your home’s electric panel. If you’re creating more electricity than you
are using, your meter will turn backwards.
So do we all need to switch to solar?The cost of
installing solar panels is high. We should all be focused on energy
conservation first. But if you live in a sunny climate, renewable solar
energy is something to consider.
What are some easier ways to use solar power?My favorite
solar gadget is my solar flashlight. It stays charged on the windowsill
on the sunny side of my home. Solar outdoor lights for your garden are
easy to install, and solar chargers for iPods and cell phones make great
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who’s been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details.com and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at AmyLevinEpstein.com. Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple.
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