Using Solar Power vs. Regular Power In The Home

Using Solar Power vs. Regular Power In The Home

Shining the light on light sources!

As Australians, we can count ourselves fortunate that the vast amount of our population can simply flick on a switch and bring light into our homes – click here to see how much electricity we use in Australia compared to the rest of the world!

However, not many of us give a second thought about how those lights, and other appliances, are powered.

Let’s explore two very important sources for powering our homes.

The source of “regular” power

Without going into too much detail on the subject, let’s just say that power, specifically electricity that we use in our homes, is a by-product of other sources of power.

To produce electricity, we burn those other sources of power (often called “primary energy sources” or “fossil fuels”), pass the resulting energy through various processes – and presto: we have electricity!

Roughly 88% of Australian electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, of which 74% is coal-based and 15% natural gas-based.

The power generated from these primary energy sources is converted into electricity at major power plants, and then transmitted to our homes through a network of local distribution grids.

Solar power

Unlike fossil fuels used in regular electricity, solar power uses sunlight as its primary energy source. Specially designed devices, including the commonly know/seen Photovoltaic (PV) cells in Solar Panels, are used to harness the sun’s light, and converts it into electric power.

This electricity can either be used immediately upon generation, by means of passing it through a device known as an Inverter, or it can be stored into a battery for subsequent use.

So, what’s the difference?

You’re TV, Washing machine or home entertainment system doesn’t really care whether it uses regular power, or is powered by solar power.

However, there are some major differences between the two power sources that you should be aware of:

  • Regular fossil fuel generated power is a major source of Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs) that are currently the focus of climate change discussions. The production of solar power does not create GHG’s
  • Generally speaking, solar power is primarily produced when the sun shines reasonably strong. Unlike regular power, which can be produced under any conditions, rainy days, and days with overcast skies are not conducive for generating solar power
  • While the initial cost of residential solar power systems might seem prohibitive, the Federal Government provides a number of incentives and rebates under the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme which make residential solar power cheaper (in the long run) than regular power
  • Homeowners producing excess solar power, over and above their personal consumption needs, have the opportunity to sell (or receive electric bill credits) excess power to the grid. No such opportunity is afforded for homes that only depend on regular electricity

While at first blush these differences might not seem significant to many Australians, the fact of the matter is that environmentally conscious citizens are definitely giving solar power serious consideration – not only that, but it could help reduce electricity costs IMMENSELY around your home in the long run.

As the prices of residential solar power producing technology declines, even more homeowners are expected to adopt solar power as their energy producer of choice.

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