The sun produces energy which can be obtained as solar energy in the form of thermal or heat energy and light energy.
There are two types of solar energy being used today, namely, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic.
Solar thermal uses solar energy to heat substances. Solar energy in the form of solar thermal energy can be used for applications like space heating, pool heating and water heating. There are a variety of products that use solar thermal energy. These devices are generally called solar collectors and can be installed on roof tops of buildings. These collectors collect and store solar energy and then use this energy in the form of heat for space heating or to heat water for domestic use.
Photovoltaic is the other type of solar energy that is used. It converts solar energy into electricity. Photovoltaic solar cells convert solar energy into DC voltage. This DC voltage can be stored in batteries or can be converted to AC voltage to supply electricity to homes. The solar energy stored in batteries can be used at night for power supply. Photovoltaic solar cells are made from a silicon material which goes through several chemical processes to finally produce photovoltaic cells.
Both the types of solar energy are used in equipments like calculators, toys, battery chargers, watches, solar pumps etc.
Although solar energy in both forms is readily and freely available, yet it finds only a small amount of usage in devices. The main reason is that cost of capturing solar energy is a lot. Therefore, methods need to be devised to capture and use solar energy at lower costs.