Electricity is the movement of electrons through a conductor. Electrons are usually found orbiting the nucleus of an atom. Materials that have 'free' electrons are conductors. Metals are very good conductors.
Electricity occurs naturally, in lightning, in our bodies. Electricity has been known about for long time. 150 years ago electricity became more than a curiosity through the work of people like Thomas Edison. These people worked out how to generate to usable quantities of electricity. Two different forms of electricity were developed: Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). In AC the electrons move in one direction and then the other. In DC the electrons move continously in one direction. There was a divide about which form to use as the standard, but AC was adopted. AC became the standard because it can be transmitted with less power loss, allowing less power stations and locating them further from cities.
When people talk about 'solar' they mean using the sun's energy to do things we need or want. This involves a range of tasks, including cooking, water heating, building heating and power generation. Solar is renewable - we don't use up the sun by utilising it's energy.
On this page we'll discuss solar power.
Solar power differs from conventional power generation in that:
What's needed in a solar setup is dictated by what it is going to be used for. The method of power generation also plays a factor.
Assuming the actual generation is already taken care of:
If the system is setup just to generate power to feed into the grid (see Solar and Grid?), then usually only an inverter is required. If you want to power a house, then you probably need batteries and an inverter.
The best way to understand what will be each type of setup is to know a little about the components that may make it up.
You can be connected to the normal power grid but also have solar power. There are multiple ways of doing this:
This involves having seperate electrical circuits for solar power and for grid power. Usually this means lighting is provided by solar power. However, you are by no means limited to lighting. The systems just have to be kept separate. The rest is then supplied by grid power.
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including:
When we look at solar power in raw financial terms, then a few factors come to the fore: