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