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What is Solar

Solar energy is energy that is generated by the Sun.

Solar energy is the cleanest and most inexhaustible of all known energy sources.
Solar radiation is the heat (or thermal radiation), light (particles called photons) and
other radiation that is emitted from the sun.

The Earth receives 174 peta watts (PW) of incoming solar radiation at the upper
atmosphere.

Approximately 30% is reflected back to space while the rest is absorbed by clouds,
oceans and land masses. The spectrum of solar light at the Earth's surface is mostly
spread across the visible and near-infrared ranges with a small part in the near-
ultraviolet.
Solar radiation contains huge amounts of energy and is responsible for almost all the
natural processes on earth. The suns energy, although plentiful, has been hard to
directly harness until recently.

Both of these forms of solar energy can be used to our advantage and improve our
quality of life. Difficulties with fossil fuels have led to the invention of devices that directly
convert solar energy into usable forms of energy.
Solar power is used interchangeably with solar energy, but refers more specifically to the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either by photovoltaics and concentrating solar
thermal
devices, or by one of several experimental technologies.

Solar Energy can be classified into two categories, Thermal and Light.

Photo-voltaic cells (PV) use semiconductor-based technology to convert light energy
directly into an electric current that can either be used immediately, or stored in a
battery, for later use. PV panels are now becoming widely used as they are very
versatile, and can be easily mounted on buildings and other structures. They can
provide a clean, renewable energy source which can supplement and thus minimize
the use of mains electricity supply. In regions without main electricity supply such as
remote communities, emergency phones etc, PV energy can provide a reliable
supply of electricity. The disadvantage of PV panels is their high cost and relatively
low energy conversion rate (only 13-15%).

Thermal solar on the other hand has average efficiency levels 4-5 times that of PV,
and is therefore much cheaper per unit of energy produced.

Also called Solar thermal or solar hot water it uses energy from the sun to heat your domestic hot water supply. 

Put simply, it works like this: 

  • an antifreeze solution flows through collectors mounted on your roof, the side
    of your house or on the ground. 
  • The solution is pumped to a heat exchanger, where the heat is transferred
    to your domestic hot water supply. 
  • The heated water is then kept in an insulated storage tank until you’re ready to
    use it.

Solar thermal can also be used for space heating purposes.

Thermal energy can be used to passively heat buildings through the use of certain
building materials and architectural design, or used directly to heat water for
household use. In many regions, solar water heaters are now a viable supplement
or alternative to electric, gas or oil hot water production.

Thermal energy obtained from the sun can be used for a number of applications
including producing hot water, space heating and even cooling via use of absorption
chilling technology.

Using solar and other forms of renewable energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels for
energy production, thus directly reducing CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions contribute
to global warming, an environmental issue which is now of great concern. The
average household can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 20% by installing a
Tri Solar collector.

Flat plate thermal solar collectors have been in use for several decades, but only in
relatively small numbers, particularly in Western countries. Evacuated tubes have
also been in use for more than 20 years, but have been much more expensive than
flat plate, and therefore only chosen for high temperature applications or by
those with money.

In recent years the production volume of evacuated tubes has exploded, resulting
in greatly lower manufacturing and material costs. The result is that evacuated
tubes are now similar in price to flat plate, but with the insulating benefits of the
evacuated tube, they are set to become the default choice for thermal solar
applications worldwide.

Click here to calculate how much energy a Tri Solar collector could provide.


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