The sun, some 93 million miles away, has been a power source we have been depending on since man walked the earth. We can pretty much count on it to rise every day and shine its solar energy down on us. Of course, depending on where you live, it may be more dependable for some than others, but pretty much everywhere, there is enough sunshine each day to power today’s efficient photovoltaic panels.
Fortunately for us as a whole, photovoltaics for home use are experiencing a phenomenal rise in popularity. We started making the switch to solar in the 70’s and then, when tax credits and state and federal incentives dried up, solar pretty much died down and went to sleep for the next 30 or so years. We are now back on track. Many new sub-divisions are now offering a solar option as part of their packages. State and federal subsidies are once again being offered and manufacturing is producing a record number of photovoltaic panels, dramatically reducing the price.
Photovoltaic panels have gone through several iterations. They are made from silicone wafers which are semi-conductors having the ability to allow photons to flow through them when generated from the photo-electric effect of the sun shining on them. Traditionally, they are encased in a rigid panel made of aluminum or steel and faced with a protective coating to shield the wafers from the elements. More and more, however, they are being made more malleable, fitting into architectural designs, known as integrated photovoltaics. These integrated photovoltaics also take the shape of shingles nailed to the roof and there has been talk of paint being available that will also transfer solar energy right into the home or commercial building’s electrical system.
Whether you are building a new home or wish to retrofit your existing home with photovoltaic panels, now is the time to do it. Federal tax incentives up until 2016 are an excellent excuse for many homeowners to start producing their own solar electric and or solar hot water. Hopefully, these credit will be extended further into the future as their popularity merits their on-going existence.
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