List of Different Uses of Solar Energy

Solar energy is radiation from the sun that reaches the Earth that can be converted into other kinds of energy such as heat or electricity.

Solar Energy Heat

The sun's radiation that has been captured and converted into usable forms of energy is called solar energyThe sun's radiation that has been captured and converted into usable forms of energy is called solar energy
Passive solar techniques include choosing building materials with light-dispersing qualities or locating buildings with an orientation to the sun. Active techniques include solar thermal energy that collects the sun's warmth in water or in an antifreeze (glycol) mixture, and solar photovoltaic energy, which converts the sun's radiation to usable electricity.

When solar energy is converted to thermal energy (heat) it can be used to heat water for use in buildings, swimming pools or homes. It can also heat the inside of the homes and buildings themselves.

Solar Energy Electricity, Small Scale

Photovoltaic devices can be very small and still useful.

Photovoltaic (PV) devices or "solar cells" convert solar energy directly into electricity. Individual or small groups of cells can be used to charge watch or calculator batteries.

Solar Energy Electricity, Large Scale

Larger groups of PV cells can harness the sun's radiation for electricity or heat in homes or buildings.

When many individual PV cells are grouped together in panels or groups of panels they can power individual homes or larger buildings. The drawback with solar energy for bringing power into homes or buildings is the expense to buy, install and maintain solar panels. In an effort to establish a more affordable system, there are models being explored where larger sites of solar panels are set up and maintained by companies who then lease the energy to consumers.

Solar Consumer Goods

Products such as lights for residential paths or patio umbrellas collect solar energy during the day and provide cost-free light at night. Solar backpacks or bags can be carried on hikes and will maintain enough energy to keep a mobile phone charged.

Solar Powered Cars

Some cars In the early stages of testing are powered by solar energy or, more accurately, by hydrogen created using solar energy. Honda, for example, announced in January of 2010 that it was opening a new solar hydrogen station where a model refueling appliance is available to refill a fuel cell electric car overnight. The goal is to make these refueling appliances available for use in individual homes.

About the Author

Heather Denkmire has been a professional writer since 1995. Her writing credits include a book, "Fact or Fiction: The Truth about Anxiety and Depression," and many articles for a range of publications including the "Houston Business Journal," "MaineBiz" and "Teen Celebrity" magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology with an English minor from Skidmore College.