Sunday, May 1, 2011

Self Sustaining Families- Exploring Solar Energy

While this might seem impractical knowing that we'll be moving soon, now that I know more about solar power, it doesn't seem that hard to make it portable, which is right in line with our eco-friendly instant backyard cottage plans.

The two things I'm most interested in are how to harness it, and how to store it for later use.  At first, I heard that installing the solar panels needed to harness the power of the sun were expensive, but then I read that it's actually not that expensive to build them.

To provide solar energy for the home, solar cells called photovoltaic made from semi-conducting materials, are grouped into modules. These solar panels are mounted on rooftops, yards or open spaces where it can capture the maximum amount of sunlight.

I found an article on how to build your own solar cells here.

Whenever possible, the panels will be installed facing south to get the most out of the sunlight but tracking systems are also used to follow the direction of the sun. The solar panels collect the energy from the sunlight. The process basically is that when the panels are exposed to sunlight, the electrons are separated form the atoms. This movement of the electrons creates electricity.

And this article on how to build your own solar panels

To store power, pumps are often used - circulating water in the cells. The water goes into a storage tank where the power is stored, ready for use. Sometimes, the use of gravity is employed if it will just the same store the heated water in to the tank.

In spite of all the development in solar energy though, the use of this technology is not enough to provide power to the whole house. The best method so far can only fulfill about 80% of a households power needs. The employment of solar energy for the home will still require the use of the conventional power distribution method.  


  1. Great to see people embracing Solar Power systems, these may seem like the new kid on the block but the reality is they have been around for over 70 years.
    There are solar panels in the Sahara Desert that have been running continually for 27 years in sandstorms and blazing heat, others that have been in space for over 50 years and going from -160 to +200 degrees C every 90 minutes!

  2. There is a great on in the Nevada desert as well, think it was one of the biggest solar project in the world.