The sun always shines whether we can see it from behind the clouds or not. This is why it is referred to as renewable or sustainable energy. Rather than deplete like gas, coal, or oil, it remains a constant source of heat and power. We could make more use of the sun than we do, but technology has helped us to make some gains in the direction of the environment and finding alternative sources to heat and power our homes. Solar panels are, for instance, appearing on the rooftops of more and more homes and businesses as we convert to more environmentally friendly ways.
With the sun shining somewhere in the sky as I write this, it is worth considering just what uses the sun does have that are as a result of technology.
Solar panels as a Home Improvement
No doubt installing solar panels on top of your roof these days is considered a significant home improvement to make. This is because it will add value to your house should you come to sell it again. We are all being asked to consider the environment more and, as the cost of solar panels comes down, thinking about how long-term we could save money on our heating or electricity bills as prices continue to rise.
So, how do solar panels work? Well, they are made up of rows of photovoltaic cells that will convert the sun’s energy to electricity. This is what is known as the photoelectric effect. It is the process that produces the current needed to make the electricity. DC (direct current) electricity is the result.
Another positive about solar panels, apart from helping the environment and lowering fuel bills, is that you can sell your surplus electricity back to the grid. This can create an income in itself and mean that you are in effect helping the environment twice. Once, by preventing the depletion of fossil fuels when you produce electricity using the sun’s rays, and again by preventing the need for the grid to use fossil fuels to generate electricity for someone else. It has to be the environmentally friendly approach that we adopt for the future.
Solar-powered Calculators, Watches, and Garden Ornaments
Today, we continue to see solar-powered watches and calculators and now solar-powered garden ornaments that can be found to buy in most garden centres with more than a few plants.
Solar-powered calculators were introduced in 1976 when the Sharp EL-8026, or “Sun Man” as it was nicknamed, was introduced to the market. Solar-powered calculators proved to the world how solar energy could be used and its technology affordable. The solar panels would help extend the life of calculators and would mean that batteries did not have to be continually replaced. The early calculators would just eat batteries. Whereas, the solar-powered calculators could be charged quickly, even when there was no sun, by placing their panels directly under a household light.
Solar-powered watches are considered the most reliable in the world in terms of their accurate time-keeping. Unless the watches are kept in total darkness then they will continue to run for a long period and not lose time as they would before and when a battery needed changing. A solar-powered watch is not going to let you down like a conventional watch would when all of a sudden its hands would stay still and you would realise that it was two hours later than you thought it was.
Resin or plastic garden ornaments will feature solar panels, charging by day and illuminating by night. They are available in a range of different animal types and set off a garden nicely. If the kinds of animals that frequent gardens are chosen then they will blend in well. Alternatively, favourite animals can be bought to light up and be partially attractive by day and fully attractive by night.
The plants being grown within greenhouses will benefit greatly from the sun. Plants need sun, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water and other nutrients to grow. They will take the energy from sunlight and then store it in their leaves and roots. Through a process called photosynthesis, they convert CO2 and water to sugar and oxygen. It is the surplus oxygen they produce that we benefit from as humans. This is why there will be campaigns against cutting trees down.
We can profit from the sun’s energy should we sell the plants that we grow within our greenhouse, which horticulturalists and gardeners do already, of course. The absorption of plenty of sunlight allows the plants to grow to their optimum level and thus provide a bountiful harvest. Further, sunlight should be leveraged smartly with the help of the right greenhouse plastic that allows for light regulation and temperature control. This can ensure that the plants receive the necessary amount of the sun’s energy and not an excess of it, thus both aiding their growth as well as protecting them.
In conclusion, we use the sun for powering, warming, and growing things. Solar roof panels are a larger-scale development from the solar-powered watches and calculators of the 1970s. Greenhouses continue to be a way to maximise the benefit of the sun’s rays to plants.