For clarity, I will begin this article with an overview of solar panels. After which, I will discuss how it works.
Furthermore, I will discuss the types of solar panels. Then the next section will contain the uses of solar panels.
Subsequently, the next section will contain the factors you need to consider before buying a solar panel. After that, I will list the pros and cons of solar panels.
The next section will be my 5 best recommendations for solar panels.
In conclusion, I will provide answers to some frequently asked questions on solar panels.
The Overview Of Solar Panels
Solar energy originates from the sun.
In modern applications, solar energy plays a vital role in generating electricity. With solar panels, you can generate electricity for your home and office, and even large electrical power for the grid.
However, solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or “PV panels,” can convert light directly from the sun.
As a result, they function mostly on sunny days and even have room for power storage, which you can use at night.
The sun is made up of particles of energy called “photons,” The PV panel converts these into electricity that can be used to power electrical loads and appliances.
Solar panel development goes back more than a hundred years.
In the early days, solar energy was used mainly to produce steam, which could then be used to work machinery.
This discovery by Becquerel led to the invention in 1893 by Charles Fritts of the first-ever recognized solar cell, which was formed by coating sheets of selenium with a thin layer of gold.
The device we know today as the solar panel emerges from this small beginning. A solar panel might look so simple externally.
However, they are made up of several layers of materials/components.
The layer of glass on top protects the individual smaller units called solar cells.
The solar cells have two layers of semiconductor silicon, which gathers electrons and allows them to move around through a positive and negative charge.
Thus, each solar cell is interconnected to form the solar panel.
How Solar Panels Work
Solar panels convert solar energy to electrical energy.
They do this by allowing photons (light particles) to knock electrons free from the atoms to generate electricity.
Solar panels consist of smaller units called photovoltaic cells or simply solar cells. Thus, solar cells convert sunlight to electricity through photovoltaic effects.
However, many photovoltaic (PV) cells are connected to form a solar panel.
Each photovoltaic cell is a sandwich consisting of two slices of semiconducting materials. These photovoltaic cells are products of silicon.
Furthermore, these photovoltaic cells establish an electric field. Just like the magnetic field, which occurs due to opposite poles, an electric field occurs due to opposite charges.
Solar panel manufacturers dope silicon with other materials to get this electric field. Thus, each semiconducting material will have either a positive or negative electrical charge.
Doping is the process of adding impurities to a semiconductor to either increase the amount of positively charged holes or negatively charged electrons. Hence, improving the conductivity of the semiconductor.
Specifically, the manufacturers dope the upper layer of the silicon with phosphorous, which increases the number of electrons. Thus, raising the negative charges.
Also, they dope the lower layer with boron, reducing the number of electrons. Hence, increasing the positive charges on the lower layer.
As a result, these add to an electric field at the junction between silicon layers.
Hence, when a photon from the sun knocks an electron free, the electric field pushes the electron out of the silicon junction.
As the rays of light continue to rest on the solar panel, the process of knocking out electrons continues.
Thus, the electric field keeps pushing the electrons out of the silicon junction in the same direction.
Therefore, direct current electricity flows from the solar panel.
The Meaning and Uses Of Solar Panel: Types Of Solar Panels
There are three main types of solar panels. These are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
These solar panels consist of about 40 monocrystalline solar cells, and these solar cells are products of pure silicon.
However, these solar cells are manufactured through a process called Czochralski Method.
In this process, a silicon seed crystal is placed in a vat of pure molten silicon at a high temperature.
The outcome of this process is an ingot (single silicon crystal) sliced into thin silicon wafers. Hence, the solar molecules use these silicon wafers.
Nevertheless, there are varieties of monocrystalline solar panels. For example, even Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) cells have more monocrystalline products.
Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest energy efficiency rating, which ranges from 17% to 22%. Also, they have the highest power capacity.
Most monocrystalline panels available today have an output power rating of between 320 and 375 watts.
Thus, you need fewer panels to generate the electricity you need. Hence, it is ideal for homes with limited roof space.
Due to their manufacturing process and higher performance, monocrystalline solar panels are very expensive. As a result, they are the most expensive of the three types of solar panels.
In addition, monocrystalline solar panels have a solid black appearance. This makes them subtle on your roof.
Generally, monocrystalline solar panels look sleek but are a little more pronounced than thin film panels.
They are also the oldest type of solar panel and the most developed one.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
These are more recently developed models and are also referred to as multi-crystalline solar panels. They are very popular among homeowners.
However, polycrystalline solar panels applicable to residential homes often contain 60 solar cells.
Furthermore, they have an efficiency rating ranging from 15% to 17%. The low efficiency of the polycrystalline solar panels results from the flow of electrons through the solar cell.
Also, just like monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells are made from silicon.
The difference is that polycrystalline cells are made from fragments of the silicon crystal melted together.
Due to the multiple silicon cells in polycrystalline cells, the electrons can not move easily. This results in a decrease in the efficiency of the panel.
The lower efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels implies a lower power output.
More so, their power output ranges from 240 watts to 300 watts. Some of them could have higher power output ratings.
Due to their lower prices, polycrystalline solar panels are more popular with homeowners.
Polycrystalline solar panels have a blue, marbled look. As a result, they tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
Nevertheless, they are more durable than thin-film solar panels.
Thin-Film Solar Panels
These are new developments in the solar panel industry. They are not always made from silicon.
However, these materials form different types of solar panels. Moreover, they fall under the umbrella of thin-film solar cells.
Furthermore, it can be easily identified by its thin appearance. They are made by depositing a thin layer of a photovoltaic substance on a solid surface.
In addition, the photovoltaic substance forms a thin film solar panel with a lightweight sheet and is sometimes flexible.
Generally, thin film solar panels have an efficiency range between 10% and 13%. Even so, some researchers have been able to achieve 23.4% efficiency.
Hence, you will need to install more thin film solar panels to produce the same amount of electricity as crystalline silicon solar panels.
As such, they occupy more space to generate a reasonable amount of electricity. This results in their zero popularity in residential installations with limited space.
Although thin film solar panels have very low efficiency and low-performance specifications in most categories, they have the best temperature coefficient.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels typically have their temperature coefficient between -0.3% and -0.5% per degree celsius.
Thin film solar panels, on the other hand, have a temperature coefficient of -0.2% per degree celsius. Thus, they are best at handling the heat.
Also, thin film panels have a clean and all-black look. As a result, they can lie flat against roofs.
Some models of thin film panels are flexible, which makes them suitable for curved surfaces. In addition, they are the least expensive.
These panels are nearly 350 times thinner than those that use silicon wafers.
The Meaning and Uses Of Solar Panel: Uses Of Solar Panels
When the solar panel generates electricity in the form of a direct current, it passes through the conducting plates on the solar panel to the wires.
Hence, the battery stores charge on sunny days to provide power at night. Even so, the solar panel can still work on cloudy days.
In addition, the inverter converts the direct current from the charge controller to an alternating current.
Hence, this is useful to us in many different ways. These include:
Solar panels can be used to generate electricity. This can be either on a domestic or industrial scale.
A domestic solar power system can help power a house or home, while solar panels can be used to provide electricity for public or corporate use on an industrial scale.
Engineers would install a large solar array to form a solar power station in this case.
For Portable Power Supply
Solar panels, when used as a portable power solution, can be more beneficial for recreational activities.
A portable solar phone charger is an ideal solution for low batteries and can come in handy when traveling, camping, or visiting the zoo or beach.
Hot water solar panels are more popular in domestic settings and are used to heat water. Homeowners install these devices to produce hot water directly from energy from the sun.
Backup heaters are also often used to complement such systems. They are especially beneficial during the night when there isn’t enough sun to heat water.
Likewise, this solar panel would prove very useful in cold weather, when the demand for hot water is high.
Electricity Bills Reduction
Even though the initial cost of installing a solar panel system can be pretty expensive, it can help to reduce electricity bills.
You’ll benefit significantly from a reduction in monthly electrical bills and be able to save more money because the more solar power you use, the less electricity you’ll need to buy from your energy provider.
Used To Power Your Home With Photo-Electric
Solar energy can be used to power the entire house, for cooking, ironing, and doing other chores that need electrical energy.
The solar panel reacts to sunlight by producing a small electrical charge.
You have to install your Solar panels on the roof or on open land facing the sun to derive solar energy.
Sunlight is converted to electricity, while the DC generated is sent to an inverter, which converts the DC to AC power.
The AC power feeds it into the primary electrical service panel, which is used to charge and power all the devices in your home.
The Meaning and Uses Of Solar Panel: Factors To Consider Before Buying Solar Panels
After knowing what solar panel is, how it works, and their uses, let us now discuss the factors you need to consider before buying solar panels.
There are some of the factors you need to consider:
Type Of Solar Panel
As discussed above, there are three types of solar panels, which are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film solar panels.
Each of these solar panels functions differently, and their efficiency varies according to construction.
However, talking about efficiency, I will strongly recommend the monocrystalline solar panel, despite its high cost.
The panel’s efficiency is the solar panel’s ability to convert the particles of sunlight (photons) into electricity. It is another point to note when buying a solar panel.
Also, an efficient solar panel charges the solar batteries faster due to its higher output.
With better efficiency, you can get more power even with less sunlight.
Hence, the average efficiency of a solar panel is 15% to 20%. An efficiency within this range or above is a worthy investment.
Durability Of The Solar Panel
If your solar panel is durable, it will save you from the cost of replacement within a short period.
However, a quality solar panel requires less maintenance. In addition, panels are exposed to severe weather conditions that one need not overlook while purchasing one.
Hence, it would be best if you avoided panels that easily break. Also, inquire from the manufacturers about the long-term durability of panels.
Size Of The Solar Panel
Considering this very important factor when buying a solar panel would be best. Also, you check the suitability of the solar panels.
However, your solar panel should fit the part of the roof you want to install.
In addition, your need to consider the surface you want to install the solar panel. For example, a curved surface will require a flexible solar panel.
The Meaning and Uses Of Solar Panel: Pros And Cons Of Solar Panels
- Solar panels reduce or eliminate electric bills.
- They improve your home value.
- Also, they do not depend on grid energy.
- Even so, it utilizes renewable energy.
- In addition, it has diverse applications.
- It requires low maintenance.
- Solar panels reduce carbon footprint.
- Lastly, they are noiseless.
- It depends on the weather.
- Also, it has a high installation or initial cost.
- Even so, it may lead to fewer savings when the electricity bills are low.
The Meaning and Uses Of Solar Panel: My Recommendations
Here, I will be giving you my 5 top picks of solar panels that can serve you the best. I will list them in ascending order from the best to the 5th.
|Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel for Explorer||22.83 x 19.69 x 2.36 inches||5.5 Pounds||100 watts||Plastic||Jackery|
|Newpowa 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel||35.83 x 26.57 x 1.18 inches||18.01 pounds||100 watts||N/A||Newpowa|
|SOLPERK 200W Solar Panels 12V, Monocrystalline Solar Panel||40.5 x 23 x 3.7 inches||16.1 Pounds||200 watts||Monocrystalline Silicon||SOLPERK|
|Renogy Flexible Solar Panel||26.5 x 20 x 0.16 inches||2.87 Pounds||50 watts||Glass||Renogy|
|DOKIO 220W Portable Solar Panel Kit (Lightweight 9lb) Foldable Solar Charger||29 x 21 x 1.1 inches||10.56 Pounds||220 watts||Monocrystalline Silicon||DOKIO|
Frequently Asked Questions
Solar panels convert solar energy to electrical energy through the photovoltaic effect.
Solar panels receive energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.
1. It reduces electricity bills.
2. It has a low maintenance cost.
3. It uses renewable energy.
It can last more than 25 years.
A home of approximately 1500 square feet needs 15 to 18 solar panels.
Yes. Solar panels are expensive.
They convert solar energy into electricity.
No. Solar panels do not work at night. However, you can use the energy stored in the battery to power your home.
These types are Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film solar panels.
Rain does not affect your solar energy system.
The Meaning and Uses Of Solar Panel: My Final Thoughts
That’s it on solar panels and their uses.
Installing solar panels in your homes and workplaces helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our collective dependency on fossil fuels.
Above all, solar panels are a great way to balance energy costs, lower negative environmental impact, and supply various other benefits, such as supporting local businesses and contributing to energy freedom.
I hope you found this PowerVersity pick helpful.
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Also, click hereto read more on solar panels from our website.
Recommended Further Reading And References
What Is A Solar Panel? (Mr Sola)
How do solar panels work? (Energysage)