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Are Solar Panels Practical For You?

By Richard Ransome

Solar panels have been around for a long time, but more and more people are beginning to pay attention to the fact that these energy-catching devices can come a lot closer to home than the ones on the satellites orbiting the earth.

Even if you have never wanted to live off-grid, or disconnected from the electric company, you probably have noticed the solar panels along the road, attached to the blinking sign that says you’re speeding, or the temporary light at a bridge construction site. You may know that your cell phone has one, and your notebook computer, maybe even swimming pool. You may send your kids to a school with solar power, or know people who have energy collecting panels on their roof.

In these days of great concern for the environment, the carbon footprint, and the possible brown-outs in major cities, it makes sense to get informed on the technology of photovoltaic modules (photoelectric panels, which are simply collections of units (or cells) that absorb energy from light (which is made of photons), which will be transformed and stored as electricity. Even if that is not technically 100% accurate, it explains the idea and some of the language.

The panels themselves are easy to construct with readily available materials. They must be moisture-proof, since corrosion is not an option, and have been designed to be very durable. In fact, the whole system will be exposed to temperature extremes, heavy snow, strong winds, rain, and hail for years on end. Most commercial systems are expected to function well for twenty years and more.

To get power from the sun and use it to run the appliances in your home, you need more than solar panels, of course. You need the whole array, probably three or more panels and an inverter to turn the energy into electrical current. You need batteries for storage and wires to connect everything to everything else and then to your home power system. None of this is complicated, even though many will know little or nothing about it.

On-going research is bringing solar power down in price and up in efficiency. The possibility of using this energy to provide all the electricity needed for a home is now within the reach of many. Tax credits can help off-set the expense of changing to solar power, and the switch will save money as time goes on. The price for installing a solar power plant is still high enough to make prospective users think before they decide to proceed with solar systems.

It is possible to make your own efficient and long lasting solar collectors, doing every step yourself with materials from the local hardware and even some that can be recycled or scavenged. Remember Mother Earth News and the featured homes heated by pretty collections of beer bottles?

Daunting as the collecting, storing, and connecting process may seem to the uninitiated, many people are building their own workable systems. There are lots of tips and kits available, with mixed reviews, success stories, and things to be wary of.

If you think making your own powerhouse is too space age for you, still want solar power, and are on a tight budget, check out the discounted, ready to mount solar panels that are offered nationwide. You can even rent them.

Looking to install solar panels in your home or office? Get the super low down now in our exclusive solar panel overview on

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Ransome, Richard "Are Solar Panels Practical For You?." Are Solar Panels Practical For You?. 1 Jul. 2010. 3 Feb 2016 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Ransome, R (2010, July 1). Are Solar Panels Practical For You?. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Ransome, Richard "Are Solar Panels Practical For You?"

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