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Solar panels and thin film technology
Definition

Solar energy has been revolutionary. It has changed the way we live and how we view electricity production. With the advancement of technology, the generation of electricity has also improved by leaps and bounds. Technology pushes both functions and efficiency of electricity generation. The goal is keep improving the design of solar panel, making flexible integration with other applications pretty easy to undertake. Almost 90% of solar panels used worldwide are made from crystalline solutions (C-Si). This consists of monocrystaline and multicrystaline solutions. According to data from 1990 up till 2014, the rest of the 10% of solar panels are made using thin film technology.

What is thin film technology
What is thin film technology

What is thin film technology

Thin film technology uses cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and amorphous silicon. This technology has proved to be very efficient. In terms of cell efficiency, the three materials have a range of between 13%-20.4% with CIGS being the most efficient and amorphous silicon coming in third place. Looking at cell module efficiency, the range is between 8.0%-14.5% with the same rank of as it was in the cell efficiency range (amorphous silicon coming in third place while CIGS tops the list).

Advantages of thin film technology

Thin film technology has a lot of advantages. Amorphous silicon can be used in small devices like the calculator. On the other hand, cadmium telluride is considered to be excellent for solar panel production because of its low cost. CIGS has the advantage of being the most efficient of them all.

How thin film solar cells are made
How thin film solar cells are made

How thin film solar cells are made

Thin film solar cells and modules are manufactured in unique ways. In fact, both cells and modules are manufactured in the same production line while making rigid thin films. The cell is made on a glass substrate and electric connections are created in situ (monolithic integration). The substrate is then laminated by an encapsulant on the back and front. They mostly use another sheet of glass. When making a flexible thin film, there is no much difference. Deposition of photoactive layer and other layers necessary is done on a flexible substrate. Monolithic integration will be used if the material used as a substrate is an insulator. If it’s a conductor then an entirely different method of electrical connection is used. Assembly of cells into modules is done by the lamination of transparent flouropolymer on the front. The other side is fitted with a polymer suitable for bonding.

Thin film solar cells and modules are here to stay and with technological advancement, the design of solar panels that offers the best efficiency possible can be attained. There are vast changes and improvements in recent years with companies now focusing on thin film solar panels as the future of this industry.

 

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Solar Power: the efficiency issue

To address the question, a clear definition of efficiency has to be established. With reference to solar cells, efficiency is described as the amount of energy in the form of sunlight that can be converted into electricity with the use of photovoltaic cells. Efficiency rating means the measurement of the amount of sunlight hitting the panel which actually gets converted into electricity.

How efficiency varies
Normal Solar Panels efficiencies

Normal Solar Panels efficiencies

Depending on the style used in solar panels construction, the efficiency range will vary. However, they are all around the same value but cannot cover the entire solar range. Normal solar panels have efficiencies of between 11-15%.

This means that much of the sunlight will be wasted by solar modules unless the use of a monochromatic light is established which increases efficiency. This has led to more development to increase the efficiency ranges of solar panels and significant changes on the methods of getting electricity.

Studies and Current Development

Scientists have developed a better, and theoretically ingenious way of improving efficiency ranges of solar panels. It’s made by the splitting of light into different wavelengths and directing them into specific and customized cells. According to scientists, this increases the range to about 50% of initial efficiency. This is because it allows the highest number of photons to interact with free electrons for maximum electricity production.

Studies & Current DevelopmentStudies & Current Development

Studies & Current Development

Many companies all over the world have been actively researching and trying to develop better and more efficient solar panels. Among them is Spectrolab, a subsidiary of the airplane manufacturer Boeing. They have developed multi-junction cells which increases solar panel efficiency to about 40%.

This sets the world record as the most efficient photovoltaic cell on earth. The lab has stated that efficiency can even be achieved of up to 45-50%. However, that type of efficiency hasn’t been reached yet. However, that type of efficiency and up to 58% efficiency are theoretically possible, especially when more than three junctions are used in a cell.

Research has also shown that efficiency can be improved with the use of better nanocylinders. Nanocylinders are studded on light-receiving semiconductors. Most nanocylinders are made of gold or silver. Their efficiency can be improved with the use of a nanocylinder made of aluminum. Why aluminum? That’s because the scattered light moves along a longer path in the semiconductor.

This means that more photons are converted into electricity. However, light scattering occurs in infrared light and visible light. Aluminum is found to absorb ultraviolet light while scattering infrared and visible light. Moreover, aluminum is more readily available and less expensive that gold and silver.

Conclusion

Technological advancement and research will definitely help improve the efficiency of solar panels. However, it is important to note that efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean better. It only means that you can use a little less rooftop space for the enhanced solar panels. The higher the efficiency, the less rooftop space is needed by the panel.

 

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Solar panels: how they generate electricity

The solar panel has been with us for a while now, helping to light up even the most remote parts of the world and keeping the lights on even after blackouts and power rationing. How does a solar panel work? How are they actually made? Not many of us know the answers.

How do solar panels work?
 How do solar panels work?


How do solar panels work?

Solar panels use the theory of creation of electric fields and then combine with sunlight to generate electricity. The creation of free electrons from atoms which will be knocked out by sunlight particles to create electricity.

This means that the panel only needs the sun to generate electricity. It should also be noted that even on a cloudy day, the panels can still generate electricity in small amounts but the rate of generation is lower than when the sun is out. So the more the sunlight, the more electricity is generated by solar panels.

Solar panels are also referred to as solar photovoltaics (solar PVs). The solar photovoltaics use photovoltaic cells to trap sunlight. Photovoltaic cells are made of semiconducting materials of which silicon is the most commonly used. The photovoltaic cell is basically a sandwich of two of these silicon semiconductors.

How solar panels are constructed?
How solar panels are constructed

How solar panels are constructed

To generate electricity, an electric field has to be established. This means that, just like magnetic field, you will occur if two opposite fields are separated. This calls for enhancement of the semiconductors.

To achieve separation of the fields, seeding on one of the semiconductors is done with phosphorus to increase electrons with negative charges while the lower layer is seeded with boron to reduce electrons giving out positive charges. Thus, an electric field is created between the semiconductor layers.

How is electricity generated then? The creation of electric field gives the cell roaming electrons. This is where sunlight comes it. Sunlight is made up of photons or particles of light. The light is directed between the cells and photons knock at free electrons to free the atoms, generating a flow of electricity.

To make a solar panel yourself, you will need to construct the semiconductors as explained above and then do some additional construction. This is done by adding good conductors of electricity to conduct the electricity that has been created. You will also need electric wires to transfer the electric current.

The homemade solar panels are connected to batteries which are then connected to appliances at home or wherever solar power is used. This means that the batteries are charged by solar panels which in turn become a source of electricity for electrical appliances. We are sure you will agree with us that it’s quite ingenious.

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workers-installing-solar-panels
workers installing solar panels

workers installing solar panels

Before thinking of installing solar panels, you have to first ask yourself if you have a sturdy roof to support the heavy solar panels. Solar panels have to be placed on the high ground so that the solar panels will get enough sunlight. If the roof is in the shade, then that is not a good place to install your solar panels. In addition to having a sunlit roof, the roof should also be in a good condition to be able to withstand the heavy weight of the solar panels.

It is also important to consider the surroundings of the location where the solar panels will be installed. If there are trees nearby, then they will have to be pruned before they overgrow and form a shade over the solar panels.

Going solar is a personal choice. Therefore, you should do your research on the best solar panel manufacturers when shopping around for solar panels. It is necessary to ensure that the solar panels you buy are of good quality and are durable. It is crucial to know how long the solar panel manufacturer has been in the business of manufacturing solar photovoltaic models.

An experienced solar panel manufacturer has to have at least five years of relevant manufacturing experience. Knowledge of the origin of technologies they use and the sales they make can help you determine whether that is a reliable solar manufacturer or not. The solar manufacturers should also be certified by professional agencies which are a form of assurance for consumers as  they have been proven to be responsible and knowledgeable solar panels installation professionals.

Solar_PV_Photovoltaic_Module_UMP

Solar PV Photovoltaic Module

Once you have made a decision to buy solar panels, the next step would be to find the most suitable company to install them. When choosing the company that will install your solar panels for you, you have to consider how many years of experience the solar panel company has in installing solar panels.

Contractors that have been in the industry for longer understand the needs and expectations of their customers and also know how to compete effectively with other solar panels installers. The company you choose should also be properly licensed. It is important that the solar panel company personnel is able to clearly explain the different brands of solar panels they install, as well as the pros and cons of each panel. The installer should be able to understand what you need and advise you accordingly.

It is also good to consult people who had solar panels installed for them before. Through the company references you get, you are able to the competency of various companies and eventually choose the one that is able to do the job professionally. Upon identifying the solar panel company you want to engage, personnel from the company must be willing to survey your house first and advise you on how to save energy and how efficient the solar panels will be.

Installing solar panels on your roof is a lifestyle change you have chosen to make, so  careful consideration at every step will help you make the leap which will herald big electrical bills savings for the whole family.

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Off-Grid-Solar-System
typical-layout-off-grid-residential-pv-system

Typical-Layout-Off-Grid-Residential-PV-System

Off-grid systems refer to systems without connection to the utility grid. Thus, people using an off-grid system will have to ensure that every part of the house gets electricity.  

For an off-grid solar system, you need four basic components and they include a solar panel, charge controller, inverter and battery. Before choosing the components, you have to calculate your power load and how long the off-grid system will run. The next thing to do is to select the batteries. The output from the solar panel in an off-grid system is direct electrical power.

The next step is to select the solar panel. Solar panels convert sunlight into electrical current through the photovoltaic effect. These solar panels are categorized into monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive and more efficient compared to polycrystalline solar panels. The size of the solar panel should be considered carefully to ensure that the battery charges to full capacity daily. Once the solar panel has been selected, choose a charge controller. This device will be  placed between the solar panel and battery to ensure regulation of voltage and also that of current coming out of the solar panels.

After selecting the charge controller, choosing an inverter is next. The three popular types of inverters include modified sine wave, pure sine wave and square wave inverters. They may be cheap but are not recommended for most appliances. The same case applies for the monitor sine wave inverters which are slightly more expensive than square wave inverters. The solar panel now has to be installed. It is advisable to get an expert to do the installation. Companies whose area of specialization is installing off-grid solar panels are more capable of installing it properly. It is also good to choose a solar company that has the most references and positive reviews from clients whom they have served before.

Off Grid system

Off Grid system

As off-grid solar systems are not associated with the electrical grid in any way, the power in a building using an off-grid solar system will not go off during a power failure. However, it is important to take note of the storage space in the batteries in an off-grid solar system as well as the extra expenses you have to go through to buy them.

There are many reasons why people prefer off-grid solar systems.

Environmental concerns are essential in this. Most people have directly felt the impact of global warming in their lives and realized that they should be using less energy. Some people also prefer to generate their own electricity. Social values, political issues and the high cost of using electricity from the power grid all play a role in converting people to off-grid solar system users. Generally, the further away a house or building is from the power grid,  more expensive electricity will be. So, it makes more sense to be generating your own electricity from an off-grid solar system in this case.Think about the huge savings and environmental benefits you will be enjoying from using an off-grid solar system.

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How Do Solar Cells Work?
What-are-solar-panels-made-of

What are solar panels made of?

What are solar panels made of? Concentrator photovoltaics is a technology which involves the use of semiconducting materials that convert solar energy into direct electricity. These semiconducting materials have the property of creating electricity or voltage current upon exposure to sunlight and this effect is known as the photovoltaic effect. Lenses are used to focus sunlight on electrical devices known as photovoltaic cells.

 

Floatovoltaics are solar panel systems which operate on water. The water lying beneath keeps the panels cool and prevent them from overheating. The electricity generated can be used locally or to power distant homes and businesses. These panels also block the water from direct sunlight which would otherwise have algae and other microorganisms growing on them. These panels also conserve water by ensuring that it does not evaporate readily. Since the panels are constantly exposed to water, it is necessary to ensure they are waterproof to prevent damage and corrosion. This makes their installation and maintenance cost more than solar panels installation on land.

Floatovoltaics

Floatovoltaics

Photovoltaics is the method of converting solar energy into electricity. Photovoltaic cells, also known as solar cells are used to carry out this conversion. Photovoltaic cells are combined to form solar panels. A photovoltaic cell’s basic attributes that effectively contribute to its operation or light absorbed, separation of different types of charge carriers and extraction of those carriers to a separate external circuit. Photovoltaic cells are usually connected in series and parallel circuits in modules.  Read the solar panels information below to learn more.

Solar panels have been designed to absorb the rays of the sun for the generation of electricity. There are two main types of solar panel. These are solar water heating and photovoltaic solar panels. Photovoltaic solar panels use the energy from the sun to produce electricity which can then be used in the home or be exported onto the grid. The four basic types of solar photovoltaic panels are monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells, hybrid cells and amorphous silicon cells.

These four differ in efficiency and price. The more number of panels fitted on the roof, the more electricity will be generated. On the other hand, solar water heating panels use energy from the sun to heat up water. Unlike solar photovoltaic panels which  produce electricity, solar water heating panels produce hot water. The two main types of solar water heating panels are a flat plate and evacuated tubes. If possible, you may install both solar water heating panels and photovoltaic solar panels on your roof, which will provide hot water and free electricity respectively.

Concentrator photovoltaic technologies

Concentrator photovoltaic technologies

Concentrator photovoltaics technologies are more profound today as they have shown a lot of promising potential for more efficient solar power generation. However, their efficiency level has much room for improvement. This is because only direct sunlight is converted into solar energy, meaning that the sunlight diffracted by the clouds and the atmosphere is wasted. The manufacturing cost of concentrator photovoltaic system is also very high, making it difficult to mass produce.

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cost-of-solar
How-Solar-Works

How Solar Works

The extensive use of non-renewable sources such as oil, gas and coal is escalating at a shocking rate. That is why more people are now exploring renewable sources of energy such as solar energy. It is harvested from the sun using a wide variety of advanced technologies such as solar heating and cooling, solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis.

Solar energy readily available in large quantities makes it a more practical and viable alternative source of electricity. Photovoltaics is used to produce electricity by converting sunlight into electric current. Solar thermal power plants also make use of solar energy to generate electricity. The heat produced is used to drive steam turbines that generate electricity. These two technologies are examples of active solar technology.

Solar heating and cooling technology uses the energy from the sun to provide space heating, cooling, hot water and pool heating for commercial, residential and industrial places. This technology is affordable to many, creates jobs for people and rids the need to use electricity generated by fossil fuels. The solar architecture incorporates the use of solar panels and passive solar buildings designs which involve constructing windows, floors, and walls in such a way that they absorb and store solar energy in the form of heat. This energy is expelled during the hot season and retained during the cold season. In artificial photosynthesis, energy from the sun is captured and stored in the chemical bonds of a solar fuel (a fuel generated from sunlight).

The most important fact of solar energy is that it is completely free. Solar energy is always renewable because the sun is not likely to be depleted. It is also environmentally-friendly as it does not pollute the air, environment or deplete any natural resources. Solar energy can also be used anywhere in the world as long as they have the supporting technology and installation. It is easy to install solar panels and they are fast  becoming common features in many homesteads and commercial buildings today.

Solar energy pricing

Solar energy pricing

Determining solar energy cost depends on the amount of electricity you use in your house, the roof area available to install solar panels and how many sunlight hours your location gets in a day. Solar panel prices vary depending on the building, type and brand of panels used and the installation company. The prices of solar panels are priced by manufacturers based on their efficiency.

Though solar energy has a host of advantages, it is not without any drawbacks. Appliances relying on solar energy can only work during the day because that is when there is daylight. At night, you may have to resort to other alternative sources of energy if you do not have storage devices for excess solar energy. The solar technologies are also very costly and require large pieces of land for setting up.

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How Much Does It Cost To Install Photovoltaic Cells?
solar energy household self consumption

solar energy household self consumption

Self-consumption is the portion of generating solar energy which is directly used by household electrical appliances such as televisions, washing machines, electrical cookers, among others in a building where a photovoltaic system is located. This means that the electricity you generate is for your own needs instead of being fed into the grid. Self-consumption is now commonly used in solar power plant operators who use the electricity their plants generate.

Self-consumption is determined by the types of electrical appliances in the building and the number of people living there as well as their power consumption patterns. The more people there are, the higher the rate of self-consumption. Also, some appliances use more electricity than others. The amount of solar energy consumed is directly proportional to the electricity consumed.

Self-consumption reduces the burden on power grids. This is because the solar energy generated on-site can be used directly by the people there instead of first directing to a public power grid and then redirected to the location of production afterward. This also offers huge savings as the people using or living in that building do not have to purchase electricity for self- consumption. Self-consumption helps you save money which could have otherwise be used to pay electricity bills. Self-consumption also reduces the burden on public voltage grids.

How-Photovoltaic-Systems_Work

How-Photovoltaic-Systems Work

Self-consumption cannot be the only source of energy for buildings using photovoltaic systems as solar power is not generated in the same amount every day and more energy may be required on certain days. For instance, on a day when there is no daylight, the solar energy generated is less, therefore. self-consumption decreases. Self-consumption also poses a challenge when the demand for electricity is higher during a season like a winter.  

Self-consumption can be optimized effectively to benefit consumers in several ways. The best way to increase one’s self-consumption is by storing excess solar energy in lead acid or lithium ion batteries. The stored energy can then be used later on when the sun has set.

It is also very helpful if you adjust your electricity consumption behavior. For example, use only one electrical appliance at a time. When you are using the washing machine, you should not be operating the dishwasher alongside it. It also helps to run those appliances that need a lot of power during the day and the ones that use less electricity at the night. Appliances which are activated automatically, such as remote controls can also contribute to optimizing self-consumption.

With careful strategies of maximizing self-consumption of solar power, this affordable and clean source of alternative energy can  become increasingly dependable.

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solar_cell

Definition:

solar_cell

solar cell

Photovoltaic cells are also commonly known as solar cells. They help to convert the light energy into electrical energy which can be used to power many modern electrical appliances. This process usually involves chemical and physical processes. Photovoltaic cells may also be used as photodetectors which can detect light at close range. These cells have attributes that make them viable to perform such functions. These are:-

  •         They generate excitons after absorbing light.
  •         They distinguish carries off the opposite types making them effective in how they function.

There are various types of photovoltaic cells one of them is a photoelectrolytic cell. This cell aids in separating water into oxygen and hydrogen when light illuminates on the water.

How Photovoltaic Cells Work?

solar-cell-works

How Photovoltaic Cell Work?

 

Photovoltaic cells are made of two different semiconductor layers. Negative and positive charges are found on each distinctive side. For photovoltaic cells to function, they must be exposed to sunlight. This is because sunlight has smaller particles known as protons which aid the cells to work. When exposed to sunlight, sunlight is absorbed by the cells. This is the first step in transforming light energy into electric energy in photovoltaic cells.

The negative layer of photovoltaic cells needs to absorb enough sunlight to free itself from the negative semiconducting material. This makes these electrons move freely into the positive layer of the semiconductor. This is to create a voltage difference which kick-starts the change of sunlight to electrical energy.

Pros and Cons of Photovoltaic Cells:

pros & cons of Photovoltaic Cells

pros & cons of Photovoltaic Cells

Just like any other product, photovoltaic cells have both limitations and advantages which help them run smoothly. They aid in the production of Direct Client energy which can be used directly in appliances that allow direct client voltage or can be converted to Alternative Current with the use of an inverter. Advantages of photovoltaics:

  1.   They reduce combustion rate by providing clean energy.
  1.   They are readily available in many places. You may need to consult your local shops to find out.
  1.   This type of electricity can be easily generated from sunlight or artificial light.
  1.   Photovoltaics is an inexpensive source of electricity.
  1.   Minimal wear and tear since there are no moving parts.

With all these factors in play, using a photovoltaic cell becomes an efficient way to power up electricity in your home or workplace. However, they may be some downfalls too. Some of this include:-

  1.   You need to buy an inverter if you want to change your electricity current into an Alternating current.
  1.   They are costly.
  1.   They are made of fragile materials and must be kept in a safe place.
  1.   Innovations happen on an almost daily basis. Hence, you may need to buy new electrical appliances very often which may not be suitable for photovoltaic cells…
  1.   Photovoltaic cells are rather bulky and require some space for them to function well.

Summary:

Photovoltaics are the way to go. Not only do they are an eco-friendly source of energy, they also help reduce the cost of electricity.

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solar_pv_works
 solar power energy

solar power energy

A solar power energy plant may not be as costly as it is presumed. Numerous websites talk about the how-to of fixing photovoltaic solar panels for household and commercial uses with the aim of using solar power to generate electrical energy. Some sites also offer consumers with an opportunity to calculate the amount of money it would cost them to build such a solar power panel in their homes or offices.

It is estimated that an average house in the US spends roughly about 1kW per hour. It comes up to about 750 hours each month. If the price of a kWh is $0.10, the monthly bill for an average household would be $73. With time, many appliances are added to the house and this affects the amount of electricity consumed and this leads to a bigger bill. Electronic devices consume a significant portion of electricity in the house and the household electrical bill may vary depending on the types of electrical devices in the house.

However, the cost of electricity varies in the United States of America. This is because different states have different policies that govern the amount of electricity used For example, in Virginia, electricity may cost about $0.07/kWh which would be calculated as $0.24/kWh in Hawaii. This shows that the cost of electricity per kWh varies with the state and the amount of electricity used.

Things to consider before buying a solar panel:

home solar panel

home solar panel

  1. Read customer reviews

Reading customer reviews of solar panels for sale will give you a good sense of which one is the best out there. The research may be tedious but you may end up finding the most credible and knowledgeable professional on solar panels costs in the market. However, you should also be aware that some of the reviews may be written by paid reviewers who may not be objective when it comes to writing an honest product review.

  1. Consider all options

Always spend the time to check out all the alternatives of solar energy. It’s always good to check out other energy alternatives before deciding whether to buy a solar panel or not.

  1. Cost

Nobody wants to end up with lousy deals. Therefore, you should always consider the cost of solar panels, do your research and compare costs.

Where to go for good solar panel deals

ebay-amazon

ebay-amazon

Technology has made it easier to purchase things online. However, it is important to use trusted sites to avoid any personal financial information from being stolen.

  • Amazon: Amazon is one of the most trusted sites where you may be able to access all information concerning solar panels.
  • Ebay: This is one suitable site that offers a wide range of  solar panels. This is one site where used products may be sold. However, every product has either a “New” or “Already used” sign which allows you to distinguish between the new and the already-used products.

There is actually a chance that free solar panels will be available in the near future.

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