Solar energy – the basics, the benefits & what you need to know

The 20th century was a period of unprecedented technological innovation, almost entirely powered by hydrocarbons. While oil, gas and coal served a purpose, they have also caused significant damage to our planet, and will not last forever.

One popular alternative energy source lies in solar energy. It’s an increasingly popular choice for businesses, homeowners, and governments, due to its impressive cost benefits and low environmental impact.

In this article, we spoke to the team at Exagen to outline what you need to know about solar energy, and why you need to be aware of its benefits. 

The basics

Solar energy is generated by capturing the energy of sunlight using a technology called photovoltaic cells, which convert that energy into electricity. Solar panels are often installed on rooftops, but they can also be installed on the ground (as is often the case in solar farms) or on other structures. 

When the sun shines on the panels, the photovoltaic cells create DC electricity, which can then be converted into AC electricity with the use of an inverter. The electricity can then either be used straight away, or stored in batteries for use later on.


There are multiple benefits to harnessing solar energy – here are some of the most important ones.

  • Lower electricity bills: One of the biggest benefits of solar energy is the potential to save money on electricity bills – especially significant given rising energy prices. By generating your own electricity, you can reduce your reliance on the grid and the associated costs.
  • Increased home value: Homes with solar panels have been shown to have a higher resale value than homes without them – yet another way in which the panels will pay for themselves.

What you need to know

Before you get a solar energy system, there are a few things you need to know.

  • Cost: While the cost of solar panels has decreased significantly in recent years, it can still be a significant investment upfront. However, with energy prices increasing, the ROI you’ll achieve is only set to increase.
  • Roof suitability: Before installing solar panels, it’s important to determine if your roof is suitable for solar panels. Factors such as shade, roof orientation, and the condition of the roof can all affect the efficiency of the panels.
  • Maintenance: Solar panels require little maintenance, but regular cleaning and basic inspections are needed to ensure they remain operating at peak efficiency.
  • Energy storage: While solar panels generate electricity during the day, they don’t produce any energy at night. If you want to keep using that energy after dark, then energy storage systems like batteries can store any excess energy generated during the day for later use.

Clearly, solar panels offer a lot of benefits, both cost-related and environmental. 

While there are certain considerations to take into account before investing in them as an energy solution, the long-term savings and environmental benefits make solar energy an attractive option. By doing your research, you can harness the power of the sun and take a step towards a cleaner, more financially and environmentally sustainable future.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.