What Is Solar Energy? – The Basics

So you’re thinking about going green – transforming your home into a sustainable one that generates its own energy. You want to make your home more eco-friendly, reduce your carbon footprint, and live a healthier lifestyle. Sounds good, but what exactly is solar energy? Let’s dive in.

What Is Solar Electricity?

Well, solar electricity is simply solar power. The easiest way to think about it is that the sun grows crops (like tomatoes and cucumbers) that we use to fuel our homes. The same way plants give off oxygen, photosynthesis generates electricity from the sun. For simplicity, we’ll just stick with “solar power.”

Why Go Solar?

The most obvious reason to go solar is the environment. Since we’re basically consuming less energy as soon as electricity is generated on site, you’re cutting out the middle man (the electric company) and avoiding the massive electrical bills that come with using conventional power sources. Not to mention that it’s the right thing to do. Imagine all the starving children in Africa who’d love to have a candle store in their village. It’s incredible how connected our world is even though we’re physically separated by continents and oceans. Going green is more than just eliminating your carbon footprint; it’s also about providing energy for those in need.

How Does Solar Work?

The best way to understand solar power is to walk through how it’s generated. When the sun shines, sunlight enters through the windows and hits the solar cells that are built into the wall. The sunlight then transforms into electricity via the solar cell, which in turn, can power the entire house. When the sun isn’t shining, the solar cells are still there but aren’t being utilized. This is where generators come in handy. When there’s no light present, the generator turns on and begins converting mechanical energy (from wind or water flowing through a turbine) into electricity. If you’ve ever watched a documentary on renewable energy, you might have seen solar power in action. Basically, when the sun isn’t out, we have to depend on other sources of energy to power our homes. This is why we need to go green.

Solar Power Calculations

If you’re interested in investing in solar power, you’ll need to do some basic math to determine how much energy you need. The easiest way to do this is with a solar calculator. Fortunately, we have one here on EcoFriendlyFinance that can easily calculate how much energy your home can generate based on its size and angle of installation. Just enter your zip code into the solar calculator to see how much power you’ll need to beat the winter weather.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

This is one of the most common questions whenever someone decides to go green. After all, you’ll need a lot of solar cells (or panels) to transform your house into a fully functional power plant. Depending on your house size, you’ll need between 6 and 20 panels to produce enough electricity to meet your needs. For example, a small house with no windows could use 6 panels, while a large house with several stories and huge windows could require 20 panels to meet the same need.

How Many Times Will I Need To Adjust My Solar Panels To Get The Right Solar Output?

You’ll need to adjust your solar panels every year or so to get the best solar output. This means that the panels will need to be moved to a new location and realigned to maximize their exposure to the sun. Usually this is done in the spring or fall when the sun is at its peak or minimum. Even in the best situation, this won’t be easy and could take some time. Fortunately (or maybe not), there’s an app for that! Once you’ve installed the app on your phone, you can schedule a service call with the solar installer to have your panels readjusted. This will make getting up to speed with solar energy a whole lot easier.

How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar?

The cost of installing solar varies widely based on a number of factors, including the size of your system and the type of company that you hire to do the installation. One of the most important factors is the type of panels that you use. If you go with branded panels (those that are produced by a single company), you can expect to pay a little less than you would for a system made up of third-party panels. The installation also depends on the type of roof that you have. If you live in a flat roof environment (like a bungalow), you can expect to pay less than you would if you had a pitched roof. Even the type of windows you have can affect the overall cost of your installation: if you have double-pane windows, the price will be higher than if you had single-pane windows.

Despite the varying prices, it’s generally accepted that solar power is a cost-effective way to generate electricity. Plus, you’ll be doing the environment a favor by reducing your carbon footprint while providing energy for those in need.

How Long Does It Take To See Financial Results?

Although there are no exact numbers available, it’s estimated that it takes about 3 to 5 years before you can start seeing financial results from your solar investment. During this time, you’ll be paying off your initial investment (the price of the panels themselves) and generating a steady revenue stream from the sale of surplus electricity. If you live in an area where electricity rates are low, you might see a return on your investment in as little as one year.


Going green is a fantastic idea in theory, but it can be really difficult in practice. Since we are always dependant on other sources of energy when the sun isn’t out, it can be challenging to find the motivation to get up and do something during the day when the sun is shining. If you’re interested, though, the journey will be worth it in the end. Just make sure that you have the proper tools (like the right solar calculator and app) so that you can determine how much solar power you’ll need and how to get the most from your investment. Happy powering!

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