There are many reasons solar power is becoming more popular. In fact, there are almost as many reasons to start using solar as there are people in the world. Most of those reasons fall into one of these broad categories though...
There's a lot of gaining interest in this area specifically. Almost anywhere you look you'll find news items, government legislation, and corporate news touting the strong need to reduce greenhouse emissions, reduce pollution, stop using up natural resources and more.
Solar power is what's known as a "clean energy" source. The power itself comes directly from the sun and since the sun is not expected to die out anytime soon, it's considered a sustainable and renewable source of power. We don't have to gut the earth to tap the sun's energy, and we don't have to fill our skies with black pollution clouds to use it either.
Now there are of course many pieces to this puzzle though. Currently solar panels are made in a few different ways, and the manufacturing process of those panels may create pollution in and of itself. Then there's the disposal issue: If the entire world converts to using solar power, will we have more of a hazardous waste issue due to the massive amounts of batteries used, and the materials used to create the solar panels themselves?
With the technology we have today in 2009 though, residential solar panels last for 20-30 years with little to no maintenance. In fact, about the only maintenance needed is a regular rinsing or cleaning so the panels can operate at their most efficient levels. Some types of solar panels may be prone to cracking or breaking of course, especially in hail storms or if trees fall on them.
Despite those occasional replacement issues that might come up, the idea of being able to operate for 20-30 years without contributing more pollution, chemicals, and harmful gases into the air and earth currently sounds like it will more than outweigh the eventual solar power system disposal or recycling issues that will arise.
So one big reason solar power is becoming so popular is because it's much more environmentally friendly than our conventional power sources.
This reason might actually be the most popular where mainstream society is concerned. Using solar power can save you money over the long term. It's an excellent investment in the future actually, and it can be an effective hedge against rising energy prices.
For some people, the lure of being able to make money from solar power is another driving force.
When you install solar panels on your home, you start supplying at least some of your electricity needs. If you install a full solar power system which is large enough to cover your most demanding energy needs though, you may find yourself with "extra" electricity. In some cases, this extra energy can be sold to your local power company.
Questionable products and sales pitches have actually been touting solar power as an easy way to make money, and this has helped push solar power into the limelight with everyday consumers.
While technically this theory is sound, it is not quite as cut and dry as it might seem. When you install your own solar panel system - or pay to have one installed for you - you're not likely to have lots of extra electricity available right from the start. In fact, unless you've spent tens of thousands of dollars right from the start, you probably won't have enough power being generated from your solar panels to run 100% of your own household needs.
Why? Because most people have no idea just how much electricity they use on a day to day basis, and solar power is not always 100% efficient.
When you rely on the sun to provide your power, you must accept from the start that you will not get 365 days of sunshine. There will be heavily overcast days in which you receive little to no energy at all, and even on slightly cloudy days you'll experience a decrease in the amounts of energy collected. This natural phenomenon is why most solar power systems use batteries to store additional energy. If you can store the extra on bright sunny days, then that gives you a reserve to use on the not so sunny days.
Now, power consumption is another critical factor in having a sustainable, effective solar power setup. Many American households have two or three TVs, and it's not unusual for some people to leave all of those on for hours at a time, and TVs drain a heck of a lot of power.
Something as simple as a clock can be problematic too. Since most households have multiple electric clocks throughout their house: One to five alarm clocks in the bedrooms, the stove or oven clock, the microwave clock and so on, you're probably using much more electricity than you realize just by having all of those clocks in your house.
And then there are all the misc gadgets, gizmos and devices which stay plugged in 24 hours a day, even though they're not being used. If you have a VCR or DVD player which is always plugged in, those devices are using some level of electric power even when they're not being used.
So one of the first steps to moving your household to a clean energy source such as solar power, is to start drastically reducing the amount of energy you consume. The combination of cutting back on your day-to-day energy use and using solar panels to provide at least some of your electricity will make the largest monetary difference for most people.
Don't forget the future investments too though. By spending even a few thousand dollars towards solar panels for your home today, you stand a very good chance of not being effected much - if at all - as future conventional energy prices keep rising.
The last major reason many people are becoming more interested in using solar power is simply self sufficiency. They want to know they have power in case of an emergency, and they want to know they can continue living an enjoyable modern lifestyle regardless of what happens in the rest of the world.
If their electric company goes out of business they don't have to worry. If there are brown outs and black outs because the power company can't provide the level of electricity needed, they don't have to worry. And if they decide at some point in the future to cut themselves loose from the monthly utility company bills, they may have that option too.
Having solar power as a supplemental or sole source of power for your home gives you freedom, choice, and options. All of which many people are craving more of each and every day.
Solar lighting is the ultimate "set it and forget it" system. Simply place the lights along a pathway or next to your doorstep and they'll automatically charge during the day and turn on at night. There are even motion-activated and spotlight varieties that are excellent to use for security and safety.