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Last Post 3/26/2021 6:57 AM by  Kelly Larson
solar power
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3/25/2021 6:51 AM
    Do you use solar power in your home or at school or work? What kinds of ways?


    Carla L
    Kris Sigsbee
    Basic Member
    Posts:415 Basic Member

    3/25/2021 8:55 AM
    Hi Carla,
    Solar power is an important energy source both in space and here on Earth.

    I don't personally use solar panels to generate electricity at home. I get my electrical service from a rural electric cooperative that uses some wind energy, but no solar at this time. However, I have some friends who recently installed solar panels on the roof of their home in Iowa to generate electricity for their personal use.

    The satellites orbiting Earth that provide the data I use for my research in magnetopheric physics are solar powered. They have a combination of solar panels and rechargeable batteries to power the satellites when they are eclipsed (behind the Earth and can't see the Sun).

    NASA missions sent to explore the other planets and objects in our solar system may also use solar panels, but some need to use radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) due to the conditions in which and length of time they are required to operate. RTGs are a type of nuclear battery that converts the heat released by the decay of radioactive materials into electricity. Earlier missions to the outer planets had to use RTGs, but improvements in solar panel technology made it possible for the Juno mission to Jupiter to use solar panels. However, Jupiter is five times farther from the sun than Earth, and the sunlight that reaches that far out is less intense by a factor of 25. As a result, Juno needs to have three huge 30-foot-long (9-meter) solar arrays with 18,698 individual solar cells to power the spacecraft.

    Kelly Larson
    New Member
    Posts:24 New Member

    3/26/2021 6:57 AM
    Hi Carla,

    There are lots of ways we use solar in our homes and businesses. There is more and more solar electric (PV or photovoltaic) systems being connected to the power grid, so many of us are using solar generated energy and don't realize it. This source is becoming more common every day as PV systems, large and small, are being installed. Many systems are installed on people's homes, and businesses, and then utilities are being incentivized to put very large PV systems in. There is so much energy that we all use in the US, though, we have lots of work left to "green the grid". We will also have the work for of figuring out how to integrate the grid as we increasingly produce energy in novel and sustainable ways.

    I personally use solar to cook in my solar oven. It is easy and effective. (Very similar to cooking in a regular oven). I have a "Sun Oven" which is a commercially made oven, but it is really easy to make a solar oven. I have made them out of cardboard boxes. Here is a DIY/Stem/simple solar oven that is easy to make:

    My friend made a solar cooker out of an old satellite dish and pops popcorn with it! Here is an example of this kind of solar cooker in action:

    In Hawaii every home has to have a solar hot water heater on it. Hawaiian officials recognized years ago that because they are in a very mild climate with sun nearly every day, solar hot water heating is very easy and useful. Also they have to import fossil fuels to power their grid and this is extremely expensive. These solar hot water heaters eliminate the cost of making hot water for bathing, clothes washing, and washing dishes.

    Of course the sun is the only source of energy for our natural world. And plants use solar energy every day to grow. Without the sun, our natural world would stop working. So if you have plants in your home or yard, they are using solar energy too!

    I hope this helps,

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