6 Alternatives to Solar Panels: Upgrade Your Home with Solar Power
Solar power can help reduce your monthly energy costs, and it's a great way to reduce your environmental impact. One of the most well-known solar power uses is solar panels, which can even increase your home's value.
But solar panels are far from the only way to harness solar power. You can take your solar energy system to the next level by installing a few key components. Keep reading for more information on how to upgrade your home with solar power.
Passive Solar Heating
One sustainable building trend is passive solar heating. Passive solar heating is about designing buildings in ways that make the most of the sun to minimize overall energy use. While some of the design depends on the home's climate, there are standard ideas.
Passive solar heating works by collecting energy through south-facing windows, using heat-storing materials (called thermal mass) like concrete or brick, and ensuring that the home has ways to transfer and control the energy.
When a home is built in a passive solar design, it's essential to ensure the windows don't let in too much warmth during summer by installing elements like window shades and overhangs. You can also use a programmable thermostat to automatically make any necessary adjustments, another easy way to make your home energy-efficient.
Solar Water Heaters
Hot water is used in homes for everything from showering to cleaning dishes. Solar water heating systems are an option to save money and are available in two types: active and passive. Both have their benefits; passive systems are less expensive, while people can use active systems year-round.
The primary difference between heating systems is that active systems have pumps and controls, while passive ones don't and instead rely on convection. Installing a solar water heater can cost a fair amount up front, but it can be more cost-effective in the long run.
Heating Your Pool
No one wants to jump into a lukewarm—or worse, cold—pool. While the sun can heat your pool naturally, there are things you can do to increase its effect. Adding a solar blanket to your pool is a great way to increase the temperature. The blanket will trap the sun's heat and help warm the water.
Another way to heat your pool with solar energy is to use a solar water heating system. A common way this works is with the help of solar panels. Water circulates through tubes from the pool to the solar panels and back, leading to plenty of warm water to splash around in.
If you spend any time in your yard at night, you already know how helpful outdoor lighting is. It lets you appreciate your landscaping design when it's dark, and it makes coming and going outside safer. Solar-powered outdoor lighting is a great way to enjoy your outdoor space at night without worrying about power cords, outlets, or an electrician during installation.
Solar lights will charge during the day using solar power and then turn on automatically at night, making them an excellent option for areas where you don't have easy access to an outlet, such as a patio, garden, or yard. Whether entertaining guests or relaxing outdoors after a long day, these lights provide an easy and convenient way to add ambiance and create a welcoming atmosphere.
Generators can be used to power lights, fans, and other appliances and devices for a time without access to electricity. They especially come in handy for camping or as a backup energy source in the case of a storm knocking out power. While gas often powers generators, there are solar options.
Solar generators serve the same purpose as gas-powered generators, but you won't have to worry about fuel costs or the fuel's impact on the environment. Plus, they don't have moving parts like their gas counterparts. Solar generators are much quieter and won't require as much maintenance, adding to the money they can save.
Solar Appliances & Device Chargers
When it comes to solar power, one of the most overlooked uses is powering everyday personal devices like phones and tablets. These small appliances are easy to charge with solar energy, which may save more energy than you think. Personal devices use a lot of energy, sometimes more than major appliances like washing machines or refrigerators.
Solar device chargers have a couple of other added benefits too. They're portable, so if you're going on a vacation where there won't be any electricity, you'll still be able to charge your device. They also offer flexibility because integrated batteries in the charger allow you to fill up the battery and charge your device at different times.
The Future of Solar Power
Technology is constantly evolving, and solar power is no different. As it increases in popularity, new ideas for harnessing it will pop up. There are already several "weird" ways to use solar power that people have tried, including solar-powered trash cans, paint, and planes.
Unlike the other devices in this article, solar-powered trash cans are generally used in large, public areas instead of a single home. They use the sun to charge a battery and then use that energy to compress the garbage once the can fills up. People don't need to empty solar-powered trash cans as often, so the trucks create fewer emissions thanks to fewer trips.
While some of these ideas might seem different, it shows that solar power has many uses. Who knows—maybe one day these ideas will become mainstream.
Upgrade Your Home with Solar Power Today
Solar power may be the answer if you're looking for a way to reduce your energy bills and help the environment. Home solar power is becoming more popular as people become increasingly aware of its benefits. With prices dropping yearly, upgrading your home with solar power is becoming more affordable. Solar panels can be just the start—there are many ways to take advantage of the sun's energy, so explore all of your options to make the most of your switch to solar power.