Solar Energy Design

Solar Panels

Solar panels describe the devices that are used to collect energy from the sun. There are two types; photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors.

Photovoltaic modules use solar cells to convert light from the sun into electricity. A photovoltaic cell is a device that converts solar energy into electricity by the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic is the field of technology and research related to the application of solar cells as solar energy. Assemblies of cells are used to make solar modules, which may in turn be linked in photovoltaic arrays.

The thermal collector uses the sunís energy to heat water. Solar hot water refers to water heated by solar energy. Solar heating systems are generally composed of solar thermal collectors, a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to its point of usage; this may consume electricity to pumping, and a reservoir or tank for heat storage and subsequent use. The systems may be used to heat water for home or business use, for swimming pools, under floor heating or as an energy input for space heating and cooling and industrial applications.

Solar cells have many applications. Individual cells are used for powering small devices such as electronic calculators. Photovoltaic arrays generate a form of renewable electricity, particularly useful in situations where electrical power from the grid is unavailable such as in remote area power systems.

Different types of panels;

While all photovoltaic use similar structure of cells, there are many different types of cells and panels that can be used. Photovoltaic vary in their basic materials, ability to produce electricity, and costs. The following are some of the types of panels available;

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panels; Monocrystalline panels use crystalline silicon, a basic semiconductor material, they are produced in large sheets which are cut in specific size and used as one large cell in a panel. They are more expensive to produce but cost effective in the long run.

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels; they use a series of cells unlike monocrystalline which uses one single large cell. They are the least expensive photovoltaic available today.

Thin film solar panels

Thin film solar panels; they are in different from the two above in such a way that they can applied as a thin semiconductor film on different materials. The advantage of thin-film panels is in the low manufacturing costs and versatility. Because these panels are less time consuming and in-expensive to make, they can be produced much more efficiently and is also possible to make flexible, shaped, or unusually sized panels.

Group III-V Technologies: Group III-V technologies are highly effective but expensive photovoltaic technologies. They use a material called gallium arsenide which is combined with other materials to create semiconductors. These technologies are very effective though they are expensive. Their use is mostly in aerospace.
Innovations in the solar panel;

Solar panels have gone through a lot of changes over the past. The first person to develop a solar cell was Charles Fritts in the year 1883. However, these cells developed before the year 1941 had very poor energy conversion efficiencies often falling below one percent. In the year 1941, Russel Ohl invented the first silicon solar cell. In the year 1954 a group of American scientists including Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chapin developed a silicon solar cell with higher energy conversion efficiency of above six percent. They formed an array of several silicon strips placing them together to capture light energy and thus developed the first solar panel. Bell Laboratories from New York was the first company to bring out a prototype of a solar.

Since those first innovations the solar panels have evolved to more modern types which are efficient to light homes and as an efficient source of alternative source of energy.

 

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