How to Store Solar Energy

If you’ve ever wondered how to store solar energy here are the basics. Solar energy is energy from the sun which is collected here on earth for heating, lighting and other human needs. Many of our basic energy needs can be addressed by using solar power. This can be done directly or indirectly but is not easy to do on a large scale. To store solar energy two components are required.

A means of collecting the solar energy and a way to generate it are needed to make sure we can access the sun’s energy. The collector collects the sun’s radiation and converts some of it to another form of energy such as electricity and heat. It is critical to find a way to store solar energy. This is because the sun does not shine for 24 hours a day and on overcast days the energy is inhibited.

The storage equipment is a way to accumulate excess energy when the sun’s rays are at maximum strength. When the sun is not shining or obscured this stored energy can be used. A backup supply also forms part of this system for times when the stored energy is insufficient. There are many ways to store solar energy. Three types of collectors are used to collect the sun’s radiation: 1) flat-plate collectors, 2) focusing collectors and 3) passive collectors.

Solar energy is very well suited for heating purposes. This heat energy can be stored in a liquid like water or a packed bed. A packed bed is a container in which small objects like stones can be placed. The stones are able to store solar energy. Heat energy can also be stored in phase-changer or heat-of-fusion units which use chemicals to alter solid to liquid at certain temperatures. Later the liquid can return to its solid form and the energy can be used.

This process is often used to store solar energy in homes to heat water. The water itself acts as the means to store solar energy. A tank is filled with hot water during the day and used when it’s required. Swimming pools can also be heated using solar energy. The water in the pool may act as a storage medium or a packed bed may be used instead. Solar energy can be used to heat homes. In this case a lot more energy is needed.

This means that larger solar panels need to be used to store solar energy. Heat-of-fusion storage units are usually used for this purpose but packed bed or hot water tanks are also sometimes used. It can be quite expensive to purchase large panels and a storage system to heat a large building. If a building is heated by solar power passive collectors are used with other storage systems.

One type of passive energy collector is the incidental heat trap. In this system heat enters through a window and falls on a stone floor. During the day the floor absorbs the heat and stays cool. At night the heat is released and heating is achieved. Another way to store solar energy is thermo-siphoning walls or roofs. In this system the heat that is absorbed and wasted in the walls and roof can be channeled for heating the home.