Anything you can do to decrease your monthly expenses directly affects your company's bottom line. One way to help save money, and make a smaller footprint on the environment, is to install solar panels or solar shingles on your roof. If you are also in the market for a new roof, getting either one installed at the same time as that roof just makes sense. Another energy saving option is to use pole mounted solar panels. The following outlines some basic information on solar power and on the differences between the three options mentioned.
How Does Solar Power Work?
Solar power converts the energy in sunlight into electricity. Natural sunlight has heat, which under the right circumstances can be harnessed. As an example, if you make a pile of wood shavings or tiny twigs and use a magnifying glass to aim a beam of sunlight on that pile, eventually it will ignite. The magnifying glass focuses and strengthens the beam.
Photovoltaic cells, made of crystals of silicon or copper based mineral combinations, are more efficient in heat conversions. When exposed to sunlight, the electrons in the crystals start to move. This turns light energy into electricity. When these solar cells are connected to a distribution/storage system, the electricity powers whatever infrastructure and appliances are wired into the solar system.
Any excess is stored and/or put into the city's power grid. Some cities allow the latter, even giving solar producers energy credits that go towards their energy bills during the colder months. This allows solar energy users to save money year round.
Three Basic Options of Solar Power
Three basic solar energy options include roof mounted solar panels, solar shingles and pole mounted solar panels. The electrical connections should be done by a licensed electrician.
Roof Mounted Solar Panels
If you are in a commercial zone, putting up solar panels on your roof is not usually an issue. There's not typically as much worry about curb appeal or possibly irritating the neighbors. Solar panels are made up of several photovoltaic cells that are linked together to create a flat solar panel. Multiple solar panels may be linked together to increase electrical output.
Silicon is laced with phosphorus on the side that faces the sun, and with boron on the bottom side. The phosphorous increases the activity of the electrons while the boron diminishes them, creating a middle layer to contain the electrical charge. To be most effective, the panels must be set at an angle on the side of the roof that gets the most sunlight. In North America, that is the south side of most roofs. Any large overhanging tree branches may need to be cut back to prevent them from shading the solar panels. These are best installed by an experienced roofer and/or contractor because it involves putting holes in your roof and then properly sealing them back up.
More Discrete Solar Shingles
Solar shingles have been around since 2005. They work the same as solar panels, but since the photovoltaic cells are incorporated into what looks like ordinary shingles, they are more discrete. They must also be installed on the sunnier side of the roof. Though most often used in residential areas, they also have their place in areas zoned for mixed-use. For example, some doctors' offices are set up in esthetically pleasing buildings with shingled roofs. Adding solar shingles keeps that positive curb appeal, while still allowing that building to "go green." These should also be installed by experienced roofers/contractors to make sure regular and solar shingles are blended nicely.
Pole Mounted Solar Panels
Pole mounted solar panels were developed by Bell Laboratories to power phone equipment in remote locations. By 1962, these solar cells were powering the Telstar communications satellite. Unlike roof power cells, pole mounted solar cells can be installed anywhere there is direct sunlight. The panels may be adjusted to an angle of between 15 and 65 degrees to allow for the seasonal positioning of the sun. These pole mounted solar systems are especially popular with rural businesses. They may also be used along with a more traditional roof solar panel system.
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