Solar Panel School – What is a solar panel?

We have previously learned the basics of photovoltaics and the anatomy of photovoltaic cells, now we’ll delve into the more complex design and function of solar cells. A group of solar cells, called a solar panel, is the basis for all commercial and residential solar energy systems. Most cells use crystalline silicon or cadmium telluride that is cut into thin wafers. The conducting wires are most often made of silver, copper or another transition metal. This group of solar cells are mounted on a supporting structure, such as a piece of metal and made into an assembled and packaged solar panel. The panels can be used on their own or as part of a much more complex photovoltaic system to generate solar power for larger residences or commercial properties.
Mounting systems can be fixed on a roof or on a pole above the ground. A solar panel can also be affixed to a roof. Some panels have solar trackers that tilt to get the best light exposure.
Solar Panel Efficiency
You’ve probably heard much about percentage efficiency for some solar panels. This is because photovoltaic modules cannot cover some types of light, specifically ultraviolet, infrared and diffuse light; therefore, some of the sun’s energy is wasted by solar panels. The efficiency increases if the panels are illuminated by monochromatic light. Some panel designs that have split light into wavelengths and have those wavelengths shine onto cell specifically made for that cell have increased cell efficiency by over 50 percent. The efficiency for most current products is around 22 percent in newer products and about 12-15 percent on much older modules. Most modules are able to effectively sustain through heavy temperature and precipitation conditions.
New technology
Some companies having started building smart modules that have individually tracking devices for each module and can optimize power more successfully. New technology has allowed the module to continue a state of efficiency even if one or more of the cells in completely in the shade.
Now we can recycle many parts of a solar module if it starts to lose functionality. Up to 97 percent of the materials are recyclable. After removing the aluminum frame, a mill crushes the glass, plastics and metals – all of these materials then get distributed to manufacturers who use that corresponding material. The recycling process for cadmium telluride models preserves 90 percent of the glass and 90 percent of the semiconductor material.
Solar panels may also have rebates for those who purchase them, so it’s becoming cheaper and more efficient to purchase a solar module.

5 Solar Power Myths

Many people are preferring to go solar in their homes, as renewable energy is becoming a tangible reality due to increasing availability and decreased cost of technology. The United States receives more energy in the form of sunlight in less than 40 minutes than from all the fossil fuels we burn every year; therefore, it has high sustainability potential as an energy source for both homes and businesses. Climate change and growing electricity costs have pushed towards an alternative: renewable energy. But any change is not without its neigh-sayers; therefore, it’s necessary to debunk any myths that people have about solar energy, because misguided perception is almost always part of the problem.

Myth 1: Solar-powered devices only work well in warm, sunny climates.
Solar technologies are geographically versatile: they can work even in cloudy areas. The provision of this energy is from storage containers that make the allocation of solar-powered energy possible when direct sun is not available. Some photovoltaic systems can provide people with enough energy to go up to 30 days without sunlight.

Despite the fact that we think solar panels work better in warmer weather, the actual truth is that solar panels are more efficient in cooler climates. A cloudy, cool area can still successfully sustain A country like Germany that severely lacks sunny days is still able to be one of the solar capitals of the world.

Myth 2: Solar Energy is too expensive.
According to Eskom (power utility company in Africa), a unit of electricity from their coal plants will cost about $0.97 while a unit of solar energy will cost approximately $0.89. There’s also no input cost for the energy source. Many companies use coal for plants that generate electricity and this coal costs money (unless you own a mine too). The sun is free.

Also, many states have incentives that make switching the solar energy well worth it. Some incentives cover anywhere from 30-80 percent of the system costs, which is a powerful motivation to consider alternative energy. With companies that sell the systems providing financing options, the barrier of entry is so low that there’s much less room for excuses why individuals don’t try solar power.

Myth 3: Solar panels required constant and extensive maintenance.
Despite this belief, solar panels require little-to-no maintenance beyond the initial installation. You can hose off the panels once in a while to prevent too much dirt build-up but; for the most part, natural precipitation is enough to clear most debris from solar panels. Many panels even come with a monitor that can tell you if anything is interfering with the output of the panel, making it much easier to determine if there’s obstructive debris on the panels.

Myth 4: Solar panels are unattractive and will be an eyesore on my roof.
Many companies have started to refine solar panel styles to match more seamlessly with your roof. There are even “solar shingles” that look exactly like the shingles on your roof and operates like a solar panel. Solar panels have become so versatile that it now can match slate, metal, fiber-cement, and asphalt roofing.

Myth 5: Solar panels are unreliable and inconsistent
According to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, photovoltaics is “the most reliable source of electric power ever invented.” Because a solar panel has no moving parts, it’s an incredibly reliable structure. Many of the panels have been rigorously tested in laboratories, and many companies provide a 20-30 year guarantee on their products. In addition, these systems must meet the requirements of national and local building and utility codes, which even further guarantees return on the investment of solar panels.