Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's the sunlight, not solar heat, that produces electricity

 The Five Zeros of Solar Electricity
Expert solar advice from Arizona SmartPower’s Solar Coach, Dru Bacon

Tempe, AZSolar electricity can be confusing for people who are just learning about it. When trying to explain the renewable energy source, I often focus on the “five zeros of solar electricity,” which help to draw interest, even from skeptics.
The five zeros of solar electricity clearly demonstrate the key benefits that come with installing clean, renewable energy, the first being Zero Fuel Costs. Solar electricity is produced from sunlight and not from solar heat, as many people assume. Rather, an electric current is produced when photons of light strike silicon wafers in the panels. Since sunlight is free, solar power can be generated with zero fuel costs, which results in a high-return investment.
The second zero of solar electricity is Zero Moving Parts. Solar electric panels have no moving parts to lubricate or wear out. This allows manufacturers to guarantee their solar panels for 25 years, and independent observers say that panels will likely have a productive life of 50 years. This goes along with the third zero: Zero Maintenance. Since solar electric panels have no moving parts, no maintenance is required. Even in Arizona, where we deal with dust on a daily basis, my solar panels have required no cleaning in the three and a half years I’ve had them. Rainwater alone does the trick.
In addition to zero maintenance, solar systems require Zero Operating Labor. Most modern conveniences require some attention to ensure proper operation, but not solar panels. I have done nothing to maintain, adjust or fine-tune the operation of my panels because no maintenance or labor is required.
The fifth zero of solar electricity, and possibly the most important, is Zero Emissions. Solar electric systems provide pollutant-free power, since solar panels simply require sunlight to produce electricity. There is nothing to burn, no water to boil and no mechanical turbines to spin. Even the process for producing the high purity silicon wafers has become much more environmentally friendly, making solar electricity guilt-free power. Once homeowners are aware of these five zeros of solar, it’s clear that solar is the best opportunity to zero-out your home energy bill.
For more information about solar or Solar Coach Dru Bacon, please contact Troy Corder at (602) 820-1433 or

About Arizona SmartPower: Arizona SmartPower is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission, in partnership with Arizona Public Service, is to help Arizona residents make smart energy choices. Whether you want to install solar PV or hot water, learn more about electric vehicles, or make your home more energy efficient, Arizona SmartPower can help. Learn more at

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