Solar Power for Homes

Passive and Active Solar Energy Use

Solar power is the Earth's primary energy source, so it only makes sense that we should use solar power for homes.

Solar power is renewable, meaning that there is no limit to its supply, just like wind and water, which are constantly replenished by nature.

Fossil fuels on the other hand are limited in supply and become more expensive as they become harder to find (just look at your bills for proof!). The need for fossil fuels has grown tremendously over the last 200 years as we develop more and more techonologies that use energy in the form of electricity.

When discussing solar power it can be separated into two distinct categories- Passive and Active.

Access to sunlight and shading when required- passive solar design in action.

Passive solar design and active systems all contribute to the solar power in this home.

PASSIVE Solar Energy- without the use of technology

  • heat houses with correct orientation and good thermal mass

  • light rooms with daylight

In the building of any new home we should be keeping passive solar principles in mind, because with good orientation and the careful selection of materials, it can produce a building with
  • lower demand for resources- heating, cooling etc. Strawbale construction is a good example of this.

  • rooms with abundant natural light

  • more comfortable internal temperatures in times of extreme weather outside

  • good access to prevailing winds for summer cooling

All in all, a more comfortable home with lower demand on our resources and cheaper bills. Who wouldn't want that?

ACTIVE Solar Energy- with the assistance of technology

  • Electricity for appliances and household with a PV (photovoltaic system). Homemade systems are obviously cheaper, and at times governments provide rebates on solar power systems.

  • Preheating water for household use, you can build a DIY solar hot water heater or check if rebates are available to buy one.

  • Solar powered cars - not a part of running the home, but certainly related to our personal energy consumption.

Like any active energy source that we utilise, solar energy has pros and cons, and needs to be converted into a usable energy form which requires technology. Currently those technologies, photovoltaic panels (PV panels), hot plate solar collectors and their associated components are expensive and only operate at fairly low efficiencies (around 10-15%).

It is expected that improvements in technologies will increase the efficiency of solar cells and governments are increasingly offering rebates and grants to those who wish to change over, so it will gradually become more affordable and more efficient.

Whether you are interested in solar house plans, solar cars or just the facts about solar energy we will, be covering all of these as well as providing some more technical information for those of you who are truly inspired and want to try to build a solar panel, or solar hot water collector of your own.

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