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What Are Solar Panels Used For?

A solar panel being used to provide power in a garden.

Solar panels allow us to generate electricity which we can then use in a variety of ways. In this article, we explain what solar panels are used for.

Uses of Solar Panels

In the sections below, we explain the different uses of solar panels. If you are more interested in the benefits, see our article on the pros and cons of solar energy.

Electricity Production

We can use solar panels to generate electricity. This process can take place on either a domestic or industrial scale. A domestic solar power system can help you when powering your home. On an industrial scale, we can use solar panels to provide electricity for the masses. In this case, engineers install a large solar array which forms a solar power station.

Remote Power Supply

A key benefit of solar panels is their ability to produce electricity in remote locations. Providing there is an adequate supply of solar energy, solar panels can provide electricity to remote areas. This can help remote communities with no direct link to a nation’s electricity grid. It can also help to power remote research facilities where it might be impossible or impractical to run power cables to.

Portable Power Supply

Similar to a remote power supply, solar panels can be used as a portable power solution. This tends to be more beneficial for recreational activities. Should you wish to charge your phone whilst camping or visiting the beach, then a portable solar phone charger is an ideal solution.

Water Heating

Most people know that solar technology can be used to create electricity. But did you know that you can also use them to heat water? You can do this with the help of a special type of device known as a ‘hot water solar panel’.

Hot water solar panels are more popular in domestic settings. Homeowners can choose to install these devices to produce hot water direct from the sun. As hot water can be in demand in a busy household, backup heaters are often used to complement such systems. These backup heaters are especially beneficial during the night where there isn’t enough sun to heat a water supply.

Battery Charging

Another key use of solar panels is to charge batteries. Engineers can fit home solar electric systems with a battery backup system. Solar panels can then charge the battery during the day to provide a source of electricity at night. This is an important process as solar cells are unable to generate electricity at night when it’s dark.

This same principle applies to solar garden lighting. During the day, solar lighting appliances can charge internal batteries. As a result, when the sun goes down, they will have enough electricity to power a light bulb in the dark.

Solar charging kits are a modern take on the principle of using solar energy to charge battery packs. These kits are widely available for small handheld appliances such as smartphones and tablets. They come in a variety of forms and allow you to charge devices on the go. Of course, this is subject to the capacity of the charging kit and the presence of enough solar energy at your location.

Reducing Electricity Bills

Although the initial cost of a solar panel system can be quite high, it can help to reduce your electric bills. The more solar power you use, the less electricity you’ll need to buy from your energy provider. As a direct result, you will benefit from a reduction in your monthly electric bills and be able to save money.

Making Money

Shrewd homeowners can use solar panels to make money. However, this does depend on where they live and the capacity of their system. Some countries allow homeowners to sell any excess electricity they generate back to the grid. Known as a ‘feed-in tariff’, this scheme can sometimes provide a steady stream of income. This process can help to speed up return on investment and eventually turn a profit.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

We can also use solar panels to help reduce our carbon footprint. By using more solar energy, we consume fewer fossil fuels. When we burn fossil fuels, we produce carbon dioxide – a harmful greenhouse gas. Because of this, when we use solar panels, we also reduce the amount of carbon we produce as a result of our day to day lives.

Reducing Fossil Fuel Dependency

The vast majority of the energy we consume is non-renewable. This comes from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas – fuels that will one day run out. Because of this, we should consider using more renewable energy technologies – such as solar photovoltaic cells. If everyone were to do this, we would considerably reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

Reducing fossil fuel dependency can have many positive effects. Not only can it help to conserve supplies of natural resources, but it can also help to clean up the environment.

Increasing Energy Security

Solar panels and other renewable energy technologies can help to increase energy security. Many countries across the globe buy natural resources from other countries. War, politics and general supply and demand can all have an effect on this process. As a result of this, a country cannot guarantee a continuous supply of resources. This can lead to energy shortages and blackouts whilst a country adapts to supply issues.

The more energy we produce by ourselves, the less we have to rely on foreign countries supplying the energy we need.