The good news is that solar rays can be used here on earth to create heat. The main sources of solar heat are thermal, photovoltaic, and parabolic.
Thermal Solar Heat
Have you ever heard that you could cook an egg on the sidewalk on a hot sunny July day? Or, maybe you are one of those people that has actually done it and then eaten the egg. The point is that the sun can produce tremendous heat by itself.
One of the best ways to get that heat to build up is with thermal mass. It just so happens, that concrete is a thick and stable thermal mass that will retain heat well.
A solar home should have thick walls and thick floors that absorb heat during the day (keeping it cool) and giving off the heat at night (keeping you warm).
The effect of having thick walls is highly important to a successful solar system. Thick walls will reduce the energy needed by a third and, in some cases, up to half of the total energy.
Some solar panels and solar systems are actually thermal instead of photovoltaic. You may have seen black hoses on a rooftop next to a pool.
This is a common way to heat the pool water. The black pipe absorbs the sunlight and heats the water just, as the concrete cooked the egg.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Most of us know solar by the term solar panels. Scientists use the term photovoltaic. This compound word means photo (or light) and voltaic (electric current).
Albert Einstein received his first Nobel prize for the photoelectric effect which was to show how photons from the sun could produce an electric current.
The work of Einstein, and many others, would create an industry of light-absorbing silicon wafers (i.e. solar panels).
Solar panels are made of silicon. The light bombards the silicon with photons. Two substances are used. One substance loses electrons easily through photon bombardment and the other substance readily accepts electrons.
The flow of electrons from one substance, to the other, through photon bombardment, is the creation of electricity from the sun’s rays.
The electricity produced is in the form of direct current and must be stored in batteries.
There are many types of solar panels. They are amorphous, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline.
Polycrystalline solar panels are the current solar panel of choice for most people because they are the most cost-effective to purchase and use. However, each type of solar panel has advantages. For example, amorphous solar panels are better for electronic applications and monocrystalline solar panels are better for partial shade areas.
Parabolic Solar Energy
The idea is the same as Direct Tv. You take a parabolic dish that has a mirror face and then focus the light where you wish. The energy from a parabolic dish is most often used to cook or to heat water.