In today’s world, solar power is becoming the new norm. It’s versatile with a number of advantages for both the people using it and the environment. It’s also a great source of jobs, financial savings opportunities, and a means of cutting down on pollution.

Before diving into the world of solar power and energy, however, it’s important to understand exactly what it is.

Solar power generator in the mountains

What is solar power?

At the most basic level, solar power is essentially capturing energy from the sun and converting it into electricity. As solar radiation is emitted from the sun, it eventually reaches earth. It’s the same thing that’s responsible for light from the sun and things like sunburn.

Utilizing a range of technologies that harness the heat and light from this radiation, such as solar heating, photovoltaic, and solar thermal energy, companies are able to convert that energy into electricity for use in the same way that we’d employ other types of fuel.

Ok, I understand what it is but how does it work?

In the form of converting this energy for power, we use a device called a solar cell that converts light energy into electrical energy. This device is known as a solar panel. The panel absorbs sunlight, creating direct current (DC) energy then transforming it to usable energy, called alternating current (AC). The AC energy then passes through the panel and gives you the electrical current typically used from your wall socket.

So, why is this important?

While we haven’t yet reached the full potential, solar energy is one of the most cost effective resources we have. The energy itself is technically free as long as the sun keeps hitting us with its rays, meaning the only cost associated is the technology used to harness and distribute that energy.

As technology improves and that process becomes more efficient and technology starts to cost less, it’s possible that we could hit a point where energy costs are minimal. As an attractive renewable resource, it’s something that people worldwide have taken an interest in.

In terms of production potential, the sunlight received by the Earth in one hour is enough to meet the annual energy needs of all people according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Solar energy is a clean and safe alternative to the fossil fuels that we currently utilize. While there are implementation and technology efficiency concerns for solar and other renewable resources, they’re still a far better alternative to the air, water, and land pollution caused by the energy sources currently powering the majority of the world. The increased energy consumption also leads to climate change, which can have a huge waterfall effect on temperatures, extreme weather patterns, and other vital aspects of the environment all across the planet.

There’s also the social and economic side of solar energy that many people are buying into as a way of supporting the environment on their own. Solar is scalable, meaning it could be applied to a single home, or operated on a large centralized scale, for corporations and larger communities.

As technology advances, the cost of solar energy production goes down, and compared to the cost of mining, drilling, or harvesting other resources, even on a purely financial scale, there’s a noticeable benefit to solar. The industry has also generated thousands of jobs for Americans, as it has become the fifth largest country to produce solar panels.

Solar panel installation

So, how can this benefit you?

Making the switch to solar can benefit most people, assuming there’s a good option for integration available. It also depends on who the “you” in question is. For individuals, access to solar largely depends on location and the local availability, or personal finance if someone happens to have enough money and land to create their own solar setup. For corporations, communities, and larger entities with land to spare or invest in, solar can be incredibly beneficial.

Here are some of the benefits of adopting solar power systems:

1. Lowering energy costs and reducing pollution

On the universal scale, solar benefits everyone by reducing pollution and driving down overall energy costs. It’s a clean solution to a dirty problem, and with more development going towards solar technology every day, it may well be the best solution far into the future. On the personal scale, businesses and landowners can benefit from the significant financial incentives available through government initiatives or companies that buy land for solar development projects.

2. Always available

As a renewable resource, you also don’t need to worry as much about the energy running out. One area of development in solar tech that helps address this is working towards solar batteries. These are exactly what they sound like, essentially a place to store solar energy. This is particularly necessary because it’s not uncommon for an efficient solar collection system to produce far more energy than it needs during peak hours, while underproducing during cloudy weather or night.

3. Incentives to participate

Now, solar will still work with clouds, as the heat, light, and radiation energy are the main factors responsible for generating electricity. Night, on the other hand, is not quite conquered without the battery solution. As a result, a good deal of solar energy production now is tied into a pre-existing electrical grid. While that means older fuel sources are still in play, there’s often a tax or cost incentive to participate in the solar component, either offsetting costs or reducing usage throughout the days, weeks, and months.

4. Low maintenance costs

Another unexpected benefit of solar energy systems is the surprisingly low maintenance costs of solar energy systems. The actual panels and tech have very little wear and tear from regular use, assuming they’re static installations. They require cleaning a couple times a year, and as the operation expands, there may be larger and larger infrastructure to manage, but compared to power production plants for fossil fuels, it’s a noticeable improvement.

5. Causing (unexpected) increase in property value

Property value is a huge concern with consumers but solar panels are now made to be smaller, modern, and ultra sleek. There are even some that look like roof shingles to blend with the curb appeal of your home. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development studied the effects of solar panels and property values and found that for every $1,000 saved in annual electric costs with your solar system, you’ll earn an additional $20,000 in home value. The U.S. Green Building Council explains tax credits and rebates.

Solar panels in front of an office building

There is a clear conclusion

Change can be hard but staying informed on current information rather than utilizing outdated processes is clear indicator of the smart choice. Solar energy systems are a smart choice for the planet but also a smart choice for you and your wallet. You can learn more about solar energy by visiting 7x Energy.