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Solar Panels & Solar Cells

Solar panels are flat collections of solar cells that are used to catch the Sun’s energy and use it to create electricity and heat. Because the sun’s energy is so spread out it takes a collection of solar cells to generate enough energy to make electricity or heat. Solar panels come in different sizes and shapes so that they can be used on a variety of different types of buildings but no matter what shape or size they are the basic design of a solar panel is the same.

How do solar cells work?
Solar cells are wafers made of a semi-conductive material, usually silicon, combined with rarer elements such as phosphorus and boron. The silicon is what grabs the energy from the sun and traps it to be used for electricity while the phosphorus and the boron help excite the molecules and intensify the energy that is coming into the cell. When the sun’s rays hit the silicon and are channeled through the cell the molecules excite and travel through an attached electrical circuit, creating electricity.

Solar panels convert anywhere from about 14% to about 22% of the sun’s energy that hits the panel into electricity. That doesn’t seem like a lot of electricity produced but the amount of electricity that a solar panel can generate also depends on where the panel is positioned and how much direct sun it gets. When there is no sun or the panel isn’t in the directly sunlight it gets little or no sun and will produce little or no electricity. The low efficiency of solar cells is a problem to their large-scale use. It takes many large solar panels of solar cells to provide enough electricity to power a house or a building.

Solar panels produce electricity that can be used for lighting but solar panel energy can also be used to heat a home or building. A solar thermal heating system consists of solar panels that are arranged in a specific spot where the solar panel energy is used to heat a tank of water. The hot water runs under the floors of the house, heating them, and then the water is piped back to the tank to be heated again.

Thermal solar heating systems work very well and are a cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative to expensive gas or electric heating systems. Solar thermal energy is often used quite a bit by people that have pools and outdoor hot tubs to heat the water they use. It’s a lot less expensive to heat a large pool or a hot tub with thermal solar energy than it is to use fossil fuel heaters that can cost a fortune.

What are SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC Systems?
Solar photovoltaic systems, or PVsystems, are the components in a solar cell that actually grab the energy from the sun and turn it into energy. PVsystems are the fastest growing area of technology in the world and production of solar cells that use PVsystems has been consistently doubling about every two years. Mainly this is due to rising interest solar energy and the desire of more people to buy solar panels to create their own electricity and heat for their homes. The demand for improved solar power technology encourages governments and businesses to invest time and money into improving the technology and making it more cost efficient.

Some governments around the world, especially in Europe, are giving financial incentives both to companies that are working on developing PV systems and making them more efficient and less costly to the average consumer and also to the consumers that buy them. Because PVsolar cells are still relatively new when it comes to solar energy the cost of a solar panel containing PVcells is still fairly high in most places. Also, one solar panel is not usually enough to power an entire home which makes using solar PVsystems even more costly for the average homeowner.

The good news is that more and more homes are being built with PVsystems already installed which makes it easier and less costly for consumers to buy environmentally friendly homes that run on solar power. Businesses that want to operate factories more cost effectively and in a more environmentally friendly way while collecting some nice government incentives are also installing solar PVenergy systems. Germany is currently the biggest market for solar PVsystems with the United States, Australia and Spain not far behind.
Solar PV systems are being used successfully around the world to power devices like roadside signs, traffic lights, emergency phones, and other stand alone devices that might be difficult to power using traditional electricity or batteries. Solar PVenergy has proved enormously successful at powering these devices. Using solar PVsystems in these types of devices and in other everyday machines like parking meters has saved many cities and towns a lot of money because they don’t need to send out regular maintenance crews to make sure that these things are still running properly.
Critics of solar PVsystems say that while the solar energy produced by the PVcells doesn’t have any harmful effects to the environment the production of these cells does result in some pollution. Advocates of the solar PVcells say that they are working on developing a type of PVenergy cell the production of which won’t produce any pollution. While the production of the cells does create some pollution it doesn’t create as much pollution as other types of materials do when manufactured or used to create energy.

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