The possibilities for solar are endless. The solar industry is constantly evolving by creating new products that utilize solar energy to power homes, RVs, personal electronics, and more. With solar rapidly expanding, there are many creative ways to integrate solar into our lives. Here are the various types of solar projects you or your business can adopt.
1. Rooftop Solar Systems
Rooftop solar is a collection of solar panels that sit on top of your home or business, producing efficient solar energy for your home, pool, electric car, and more. The rate at which homeowners are installing solar panels on their roofs is consistently growing as solar benefits gain awareness and installation becomes more affordable. Along with the cost of PV solar panels dropping nearly 70% since 2014, President Joe Biden recently signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes a 30% tax credit for all solar projects.
The process of installing a rooftop solar system is typically stress-free. An established installation company like Solaris Renewables can ensure a smooth installation process by taking care of the design, permitting, and of course, the installation. Installing a rooftop solar system is dependent on your roof conditions and energy needs. Before installing, talk to your installation company to confirm that your roof is good for solar panels.
2. Ground-mounted Solar Systems
If your roof is ineligible for a solar system, you may want to look into installing a ground-mounted solar system onto your property. A ground-mounted solar system is made up of traditional solar panels, which are held up by steel beams secured into the ground. This system gives property owners and installation companies a lot of freedom because there are usually more options for positioning and space.
Ground-mount systems work the same way as rooftop solar systems, converting sunlight into electricity using an inverter and other necessary components. Residential ground-mounted solar systems are also eligible for all the same incentives as rooftop solar systems.
3. Solar Trackers
When installing a solar system for your home or business, ensuring that your solar panels are facing sunlight is crucial. Without the ability to access sunlight, a solar system cannot efficiently produce energy for the property. In this situation, solar trackers are a powerful solution.
Trackers maximize energy production by using GPS and wireless technology to follow the sun throughout the day. A top-tier system like the AllEarth Solar Tracker is dual-axis, meaning it will move to follow the sun east to west, producing up to 45% more energy than a rooftop solar system. A system like this can give you the energy independence and return on investment that you deserve. Though solar trackers are often ground-mounted structures, roof-top trackers have become a possibility in the last few years.
4. Personal Solar-powered Devices
If you can’t get enough solar power and want to use it everywhere you go, many electronics have a portable solar alternative for you. From solar phone chargers to heavy-duty solar generators, there’s a solar-powered substitute for almost anything. Some examples are calculators, watches, phone chargers, shades, fans, and more.
Solar-powered portable devices don’t use the traditional solar panel technology that residential and commercial installations require since they demand a lot less energy than a building or property. A traditional solar panel produces a lot of energy and consists of many solar cells, while a solar-powered personal device demands a lot less energy, meaning the same amount of cells isn’t necessary. Nevertheless, these solar-powered products work great while utilizing clean energy.
5. Portable Solar Panels
Another way to travel with solar power is with a portable solar panel, which works similarly to a traditional solar panel but on a micro-level. Portable solar panels are lightweight and easy to transport, making them ideal for camping trips and other outdoor activities. Take it on a hike, an RV trip, or anywhere you may be without electricity! Portable solar panels can be used for a variety of applications such as powering outdoor equipment, charging electronic devices, and providing electricity for remote or off-grid locations.
Portable solar panels are also a great way to stay off the grid and reduce your reliance on traditional energy sources. They can be used to charge phones, laptops, and other small electronics, and can even be used to power small appliances. Like with traditional solar panels, you can even pair portable solar panels with a small battery to store your solar power.
6. Solar Fields
A solar field or farm is a large collection of traditional solar panels (and solar components like inverters) on public or private land that powers a community or property for large commercial use. Since entire communities or large businesses require much more energy than a single home, this installation requires a larger-scale approach. Typically, municipalities, developers, and investment companies invest in solar farms.
Solar farms often require minimal maintenance when partnered with agricultural groups. Co-location, also known as agrivoltaics, is defined as agricultural production, such as crop or livestock production or pollinator habitats, underneath solar panels or adjacent to solar panels. For example, goats are able to naturally mow solar farms by eating weeds and other plants that could inhibit solar production.
7. Building-integrated Photovoltaics
Rather than a typical rooftop or ground-mounted solar installation, building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), allow for the integration of solar panels into the outer layer of a building to generate solar electricity. BIPV systems are integrated into the building structure, such as the roof, walls, or windows, and use solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. BIPV systems can help reduce energy costs, reduce the carbon footprint of a building, and provide a unique and attractive look to the exterior of a building. BIPV can also provide additional benefits such as shading, protection from the elements, and improved insulation.
There are companies that specialize in this type of installation, including Andersen Windows & Doors, which has begun partnering with solar technology providers to use a type of glass that’s compatible with solar production. These innovations allow you to get efficient and eco-friendly energy.
8. Solar Carports
Did you know that parking lots and driveways have the opportunity to provide clean and sustainable energy? Home and business owners are able to utilize parking lots and driveways, by building overhead solar-integrated canopies that collect sunlight to create usable electricity, as any other solar system would.
This option is a win-win solution for the drivers and investors. Solar carports supply clean energy, provide a shaded area for vehicles, and don’t use up any land in the process. If you don’t have enough space for rooftop or ground-mounted solar, a carport is an efficient option.
9. Floating Solar Panels
Similar to carports and rooftop solar, a floating solar system is a productive option that doesn’t take up any land. Instead, panels are installed on a structure that typically floats above a lake, reservoir, or large water source where conditions are most suitable. They are designed to be able to withstand the force of the water. Floating solar panels are an attractive option because they are cost-effective, take up less space than traditional ground-mounted solar panels, and can produce more energy than ground-mounted systems due to the cooling effect of the water.
In addition to providing energy, floating solar panels are able to cool water temperatures, reduce evaporation, and reduce algae growth which supports healthy ecosystems.
10. Solar As Art
Artists all around the world have utilized solar in many different ways, creating pieces of art that can also produce sustainable electricity.
One instance of this is Smartflower, a high-tech structure that comes in the shape of a flower and produces clean energy. There’s also Sonic Bloom, a display of flowers made up of solar panels located outside of the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA. With the ability to play music and create light shows, Sonic Bloom is just another example of turning state-of-the-art technology into eye-catching pieces of art!
In conclusion, solar energy has many creative applications that can be used to power homes, businesses, and communities. From rooftop solar panels to large-scale solar farms, the potential for harnessing the power of the sun is limitless. Additionally, new technologies such as vertical solar, building-integrated photovoltaics, floating solar, and more are expanding the possibilities for solar energy even further. As the cost of solar technology continues to decrease and awareness of the need to transition to renewable energy sources grows, we can expect to see more and more creative applications of solar energy in the years to come.
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