Portal:Solar

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The Solar Portal

The Sun photographed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA 304) of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available renewable energy on earth. Only a minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is used.

Often Solar powered electrical generation relies on heat engines and photovoltaics. Solar energy's uses are limited by human ingenuity, and the finite resourced to build the sys. A partial list of solar applications includes space heating and cooling through solar architecture, potable water via distillation and disinfection, daylighting, solar hot water, solar cooking, and high temperature process heat for industrial purposes.To harvest the solar energy, the most common way is to use solar panels.

Solar technologies are characterized as either passive solar or active solar, depending on the way the energy is captured, converted and distributed. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the suns seasonal orientation, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass, which will capture and radiate solar energy, light dispersing properties that will disperse light energy, or designing spaces that naturally circulate solar heated air.

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Solar heater
Solar hot water describes active and passive solar technologies that utilize the sun’s freely abundant solar thermal energy in order to heat water for a desired application. It is one of the most efficient ways to heat water (in terms of energy/waste), as it requires no energy conversion, unlike electric-resistance heating or fuel burning. It is a simple transfer and concentration of heat energy from one place to another. Another interpretation of the efficiency of the practice is that the solar energy is free, and only dependent on the extent of the technology used, and its cost and efficiency. In other words, the energy is free, only the collection, conversion, and storage devices cost.

If you have ever felt hot water trickle out of a garden hose that’s been sitting in the sun, you’ve experienced solar hot water in action. Essentially, a solar hot water system is made up of a solar thermal collector, a well-insulated storage container, and a system for transferring the heat from the collector to the container vis-à-vis a fluid medium, which in some circumstances is the water to be used itself.

Being as there are, on a global scale, near countless applications using domestic, commercial and industrial hot water, there are also nearly as many opportunities to apply solar thermal technologies to heat this water. But today the market is changing, and both the economic and environmental costs associated with using gas and electricity to heat water are being challenged by more efficient, less costly systems.

Kiva's straw bale greenhouse

Year round veggies in a homemade, just under the permitting limit, strawbale greenhouse.

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Selected topics (Book)

Greenhouses: Construction of an Affordable Greenhouse · Humboldt greenhouse gallery


Passive solar design: Parras passive solar design gallery · Thermal mass · Thermosiphon


Photovoltaics: Energy · System energy · Grid connection · Holographic solar · Humbolt gallery · Maintenance · Panels · Parras gallery · Refrigeration · Vaccine refrigeration · Test field · Troubleshooting · Rural lighting · Water pumping


Solar cooking: Analysis of a solar cooker  · and development · and health


Solar dehydrating: Food Drying with Superheated Steam · Solar drying in Uganda


Solar distillation: Compound parabolic concentrator · Effect of water on light transmission of glass · Improving Basin Solar Stills · Solar distillation TB · Solar fuel alcohol distillation


Solar energy: Open Solar Outdoors Test Field · Smart windows · The solar resource


Solar hot water: DIY solar thermal collectors · Installation and Design Principles · System types


Solar power: Heliostats · Solar thermal energy

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