The Sun, of course, is ultimately what sustains all life on Earth. Even with its energy-laden rays being gobbled up so eagerly by organisms ranging from tiny plankton to gigantic redwoods, though, the vast majority of the Sun’s output goes without being captured. While that energy heats up the Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere, much of it is eventually radiated back out into space without any further effect.
This fact is what underpins the relatively recent surge in interest in solar power. Over the course of the last couple of decades, some impressive advances have been made, with some of the largest solar power plants now rivaling conventional ones with their peak output. However efficient and desirable they might be, though, these plants all share a weakness: When the Sun goes down for the evening or is even just forced to shine through clouds in the atmosphere, they become much less useful.
Designers of these large-scale plants therefore face some interesting challenges, a number of which seem likely to be overcome in the near future. Home-based solar power systems have the same basic weaknesses, in many cases, although the smaller scale of these setups can mean that their drawbacks might be defeated even sooner.
For example, many homeowners are now looking to solar power energy backup systems, devices that often do a good job of overcoming the problems typically associated with solar power generation. Most of these devices rely on a fairly simple principle, with photovoltaic solar panels being coupled to large lithium-ion batteries that they charge with their output.
Thanks to advances in both panel technology and the capacity and cost of these batteries, such systems can be surprisingly affordable and effective. The ideal emergency solar backup system for a given home will be able to provide power for everything within it for hours, stepping in when power lines go down or other problems with the electrical grid crop up.
Compared to conventional backup power systems, those of this design are also frequently easy to live with. Lacking moving parts entirely, they can be largely left alone until they needed, simply soaking up the sun’s rays until a power outage calls them to duty.