Solar Lights and Energy from the Sun

Plants have long known the secret of getting energy from the sun via photosynthesis. Modern man just barely catches up with nature in its applications of solar energy. Before air conditioning, some architecture had made use of the sun’s ability to heat rooms by facing them south. One should not ignore more active principles, too, like: lighting and power from the sun.

Passive Applications

Passive designs make use of the sun by storing the heat from the sun’s rays or to help illuminate the home. They generally contain no photovoltaic cells or moving parts. They don’t generate electricity, but they work well to light and heat a home. Here are a few such techniques to try out in your home:

Thermal Walls and Floors – A home that is built with brick will collect energy from the sun, if it is also facing south. The sun’s ray will hit the brick and the heat will be stored in it to be released at night, when the temperatures drop outside. In the same manner, tile and stone floors and walls will collect the sun’s radiation during the day and release it at night, and can be designed for maximum heat gain.

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Tube Solar Lighting – If you want to bring more light into the home, without increasing your electric bill, you can use a tube solar lighting. These openings, that have no moving parts, act like round miniature skylights that reflect the light through a channel embedded in the roof back into the home in different rooms. They illuminate the interior of the home from the outside. You will need to get an expert to figure where to place the solar tube by checking your roof’s insolation values in different spots.


Landscaping the Home – Not only do trees use photosynthesis from the sun, but they make ideal shade covers for south-facing windows. They will have leaves on them during the height of the summer, but drop those leaves in the winter when you want the sun to stream in more. A garden that takes into account how to cool the home via strategic plantings can also help reduce your power needs.

Active Applications

When trying to make as much use of the sun as possible, one can look a variety of ways to include energy from the sun in your home design. Once you know your home’s insolation parameters, you can start to figure out whether a particular application works best for you. Here are a few different ways to make use of the sun’s rays:

Lighting – Your outdoor garden may need a little illumination at night and solar-powered walkway lights are inexpensive and easy to install. They have no wires and can be staked anywhere in the outdoor garden.  They make your home safer by keeping it bright even after dark, without costing you another penny after the initial purchase.


Water Heating – Homeowners are discovering a way to reduce the power needs of one of the biggest energy wasters in the home: heating hot water. Making use of the sun’s ray to pre-heat the water and keep it warm eliminates the need to burn electricity just to store water in a hot water storage tank. You can use a vacuum tube setup to soak up the sun’s radiation for most hot water heating that makes use of the sun’s rays.

Power – To produce electricity from the sun, you will need solar cells. These marvels of modern technology powered the International space station, should it should be good enough for your home. Cell arrays and designs are changing every year. Some are even available that look like roof tiles.


Technology Advances from the Sun

Every year the price of technology decreases, while the applications increase. Designs that make use of the sun’s energy are ideal for third world countries that are not on a national grid. Ovens that are heated by the sun can save forests by reducing the need to collect firewood. Solar stills can help people purify water. The sun will always be out some place to be useful for a variety of purposes.

For modern people in first world countries, there have also been numerous advances to help them modify existing homes. Now, you can make use of passive design by including trombe walls in strategic areas. Laptops and phones can be powered with energy devices that are portable. Some designers believe windows of the future will all be modified into transparent photovoltaic cells that produce energy even as they continue to let you see outside. Electricity-generating designs have gotten more stylish, reducing the ugliness factor that plagued the industry at the beginning. As more homeowners take the plunge, the fear factor of a new technology has also subsided. You can even get rebates for including active designs in your home. There is much more good news coming in for the residential homeowner in energy designs. It’s not a question of if it will happen anymore, but when.


It used to be that your home’s architecture had to be built from the ground up to use natural designs that used the sun’s energy. However, both passive and active designs have advanced over the years to make it easy for homeowners to include this valuable technology into their existing homes now.


Article Name
Solar Lights and Energy from the Sun
It used to be that your home’s architecture had to be built from the ground up to use natural designs that used the sun's energy.

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