Solar power for homes can be established by utilising power from an electricity grid that is fed by an alternative energy solar source. Or we can build homes and renovate them to incorporate solar collecting systems to provide power for the home directly.
There are a couple of considerations for doing the latter.
One is that homes tend to occupy an area on the earth's surface that receives continuous sun energy. By utilising our home's footprint we are combining to benefit from the sun's evenly-distributed resource.
Our distance from the equator and degree of cloud cover will affect how much we can actually collect in our location. Solar panels are angled for each of our specific latitudes.
And by having this collection at the home that is using the power we are minimising reticulation or feeding of the power.
With battery storage improving to the point where it is now felt that by 2015 they will be cost-effective to use on a larger scale we can chose to even be off grid. But with other strategies I will consider it might be ultimately ideal to be part of a local grid setup.
Like the "just in time" method of car assembly used to great effect by Japanese car manufacturers to maintain an edge over the US manufacturers, we can create a "just at point" energy system - delivering a similar greater efficiency.
As mentioned in the area on thermal energy homes can heat their own pools, create their own hot water and passively and actively heat and cool their own sites. Newer ideas can efficiently collect solar thermal energy even in below-freezing winters.
By establishing a mix of direct thermal collecting systems and photovoltaic panels both direct heating and power generation can be established.
Even more exciting now are newly emerging hybrid panels that can utilize solar power for homes for both electricity production and directly producing hot water. The hot water can be used directly for our hot water needs and indirectly in heating and cooling our homes. Our use of solar energy reaching each of our homes becomes even more efficient!
In the same way that we can utilise deeper ground warmth in heat exchangers, it is possible to create heat exchangers to cool and warm homes more actively. That first metre or so of ground warmth comes from ground storage of solar irradiation.
Energy efficient buildings look at the way insulation and passive warming and cooling can be used. The amount of glass, single, double and triple glazing, building materials and specific-size-designed eaves and shutter systems all contribute to this efficiency.
People wanting to establish alternative energy homes have quite a number of options to consider just in the area of best using the sun's energy.
I have covered already existing systems that use solar energy in multiple ways to minimise costs. Beyond what people know of simple orientation, materials and glazing strategies to passively heat homes, there is a specific European passive solar building method used for both new and retrofit homes and other buildings.
There are others seeking to capture more energy than they use.
Certain more freely available natural building materials allow for much improved insulation and solar storage to create comfortable homes.
Considering solar power for homes offers a large number of options for alternative home energy.