What is Solar Energy?

Solar power

Solar energy is energy derived from the Sun’s radiation. The Sun is an powerful source of energy and provides the Earth with as much energy every hour as we collectively use in a year worldwide. It is important that we continue to harness and increase our use of solar energy (and other clean, renewable energies) as fossil fuels become depleted, expensive, and fall out of favor with their consumers. As the global demand for energy grows and conventional energy resources become increasingly costly to extract, people are looking to the power of the Sun. Solar has been growing exponentially for the last 20 years, while the price of photovoltaic (PV) cells has dropped 20% whenever manufacturing capacity doubles; PV cell prices are 99% lower now than they were in 1976. It is no longer the cost-prohibitive energy source it once was. Solar power is important because every beam of light that we can convert into electricity is another step in reducing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Also by investing in the clean energy economy, we can help ensure energy security right here in America and create millions of jobs without the need to outsource. Each year more and more people are investing in their own energy portfolios by installing solar panels on their homes, but not everyone has that option (e.g. due to home ownership, geographic location, home orientation, etc.). For the latter, Mosaic allows people to become investors in solar projects to earn competitive returns while also helping out the environment.

Photovoltaics

When one thinks of solar power, PV or solar panels come to mind. Even within the category of PV there are many applications and variants of the technology, but fundamentally, PV enables us to directly convert sunlight into electricity. Semiconductor materials (like those used in computers) make up solar cells and are used to convert photons (e.g. light) to electricity. PV arrays consist of solar cells which can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The PV array on a house generating electricity is likely made of traditional crystalline silicon. Alternatively, thin film solar utilizes stacked semiconductors only a few micrometers thick that can be applied as roof shingles or solar window tinting to generate electricity. What thin film gains in versatility and price reductions, it loses in terms of conversion efficiency. Typical solar cells have an efficiency of around 15%, although there are models that are up to 21% efficient.

Concentrated Solar Power

Concentrated solar power is not a type of energy that can be installed on top of one’s home or building. It requires the use of many mirrors across a broad expanse of land that focuses the power of the Sun on a fixed tower. The tower contains salt that is heated by the concentrated sunlight where it functions similar to a battery to store heat and generate steam after the Sun sets. The design can also be altered so that parabolic trough-shaped mirrors can concentrate sunlight onto a tube containing fluid, generating steam and then electricity.

Active & passive solar heating

Passive solar can be used to heat a building. By constructing a building with large south-facing windows, the Sun’s energy can be captured during the day. Certain thermal storage materials can absorb the heat and slowly dissipate it throughout the night keeping the building warm. Thermal storage materials like adobe have been used to construct buildings for thousands of years. Active solar heating is another way to make use of the Sun’s radiant energy. An example of active solar is solar water heaters. These systems can be found on top of many buildings throughout the world. Water slowly passes through a flat plate collector facing the Sun and as the water is heated, it flows into a storage container to be used later. In some Mediterranean countries, 30-40% of all homes have solar water heaters, highlighting the effectiveness of such a system to meet basic household hot water needs.

Solar energy has exploded over the last decade

If you are thinking about having solar panels installed in your home, you should know you are not alone. In 1995, there was 10 megawatts of solar installed in the United States. Today? Over 10 gigawatts! That’s enough solar energy to power over 2 million homes across the country. And this expansion isn’t letting up. In 2013, California installed more solar than they had in the previous thirty years combined. Why does solar suddenly seem so popular? It’s straightforward – it’s all about saving money. The cost of solar panels has fallen over 60% since 2011, making solar more affordable than ever. And a few years ago, several large financing operations introduced solar leases for little to no money down, in which you essentially buy clean energy from the lease company for slightly less than you were buying dirty energy from the utility company. As prices have fallen even farther, there’s a new way to put solar on your home, without having a lease company own the panels on your own house. It’s the no money down solar loan.

The Mosaic Home Solar Loan Makes Solar Power Affordable

The Mosaic Home Solar Loan offers you an easy way to save money each month — for no money down. The monthly loan payments are designed to be up to 20% less than you currently pay for electricity. And because these payments lock in your monthly electricity costs, your savings will grow over time as utility rates continue to rise. After paying off your loan, enjoy years of free, clean energy from the sun. A loan offers a number of additional benefits over a lease when you are thinking about getting solar panels for your home.

  • Sell your house for more. There is no lease to deal with at time of sale. Instead, you can easily pay off your loan and incorporate into your home price or transfer the loan to a qualified buyer. Plus, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab recently released a study suggesting that solar panels can increase the value of your home.
  • Pay it off when you want. There are no prepayment penalties. After paying off your loan, enjoy years of free, clean energy from the sun.
  • You get all the savings. Don’t let the leasing company or government skim your savings. Your monthly savings are 100% tax-free.
  • True control of your rate. There is no annual payment escalator and no hidden fee. Just a one time decision on how to use your tax credit.
  • Build equity in your solar asset. Just like a home mortgage, build equity in your solar system with each monthly payment that pays down the principal, unlike a lease.
  • Your home. Your system. You own your home, why would you let somebody else own your home solar system?

How to get solar panels for your home

Getting the best deal on solar panels for your home starts with telling us a little bit about your home and current electricity usage. Then we can develop a free quote customized to your home with a no money down financing option. If those savings are appealing to you, then it’s time to schedule your installation and start saving money from the sun!

Get your free quote today!