The ability to generate solar electricity is seen as a potential windfall in renewable energy. For those locations where the sun shines many days of the year, using it to produce energy, much like plants do through photosynthesis, may make some sense. However, the costs associated with the equipment needed to generate solar electricity may be prohibitively expensive for many households.
In order to generate solar electricity, it is first necessary to buy a solar panel. In fact, depending on how much electricity you want, it may require several solar panels. While it may not be practical to use solar electricity for all needs, they are very useful in certain applications. Still, the ability to take a home completely off the grid, from an electrical standpoint, will likely not happen for most homes.
The most popular application for solar power is in the area of solar heating of water. Solar hot water heaters can work to substantially reduce the amount of electricity needed to provide hot water to a home. In times where solar power is not enough to heat the water, traditional electricity may step in and provide the power needed. This is determined by the thermostat in the water heater. Both usage and weather could affect this.
Another way to use solar electricity is in wireless lighting systems outdoors. In this case, photo cells generate solar electricity during the day and store that energy in temporary batteries. At night, when a photo eye senses darkness is present, the lights automatically come on. In some cases, especially in the summer months when the nights are shorter and days are longer, it may be possible that the lights charge well enough to stay lit throughout the night.
For those who do choose to try to generate solar electricity in large enough amounts to power an entire home, they will likely want to do several things to help with the expenses. The first thing to do will be to make as many appliances as practically possible run off gas. This includes the water heater, stove and oven. Once these big energy drains have been taken off of electricity, it will be easier to produce enough electricity.
However, even then, an average home will likely require a significant cell of more than 300 square feet, even if there are plenty of other power-cutting measures in place. The price tag for such a solar panel would likely be more than $15,000 US Dollars (USD). In most cases, the savings in power bills would take many years, if not decades, to recover the cost of the panel. Still, for those who are unconcerned about costs, the investment in a clean energy technology may be worth it.