Rural Alternative Research Environmental (RAREL)

Householder Solar Power



The Future ~ Solar Energy

Existing Solar Technologies

high shear domestic socket The sun's rays contain a broad spectrum of light waves. The different parts of the spectrum lend themselves to different methods for turning solar energy into heat or work. Photovoltaic cells are arrays of low cost semiconductors which turn certain parts of the sun's rays into electricity. This electricity can then be used as readily available electricity to power lights, fridges and other electrical appliances. It can also be stored for later use as chemical energy (a battery), kinetic energy (a flywheel) or potential energy (a hydro-electric pump).

Solar water heaters use other parts of the sun's energy to excite molecules of water. This turns cold water into hot water. The hot water thus created, is often used to assist domestic water heating systems by sitting between the cold rising water main and the domestic water heating boiler. This ensures that, for most of the year, the water entering the boiler is already warm - or even hot, if you are lucky. As a result, your boiler will consume less fossil fuel in making your water piping hot and your fuel bills will be significantly reduced, because of this.

The Focus of RAREL Research

Although the types of semiconductors used for photo-voltaic cells are cheaper than the types used to make computers, photo-voltaic technology still tends to be more expensive than solar heating technology. Furthermore, photo-voltaic technology lends itself less readily to self build and self maintain, because several specific skills are called for by the electronic aspects of the technology. RAREL's research will be directed at modular solar water heating systems for houses. These will be systems which are easy for householders to build, install and maintain for themselves.

Some Self Build Considerations

Many solar panel installers are gifted tradesmen, who bravely decided to diversify into solar heating, from core trades such as electricals, plumbing and roofing. RAREL recognises that most buyers of the forthcoming Solar Heating Builder Owner Manual will not come from these trades, where the use of ladders is the norm. In fact, RAREL will assume than no reader has taken a ladder up to gutter level, even on their own house. It is by this mindset that RAREL will preserve the integrity of its mission to aid localisation, self - reliance, the use of renewables and the rural economy.

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