Tag Archive | "solar cells"

The Benefits of using Solar Panels in your Home

There are many benefits to the environment when people use solar energy to heat and power their homes. There are also many benefits for homeowners. At first the cost on installing a solar array so that you can solar energy at home might seem very expensive but over time the solar energy panels will more than pay for themselves. Still not sure that solar panels are right for you? Here are just a few of the benefits of switching to solar energy in your home:

Solar panels last a long time – If your solar panel array is installed properly it can last for 20 years or longer. Proper maintenance is required to keep it functioning well but the solar panels themselves shouldn’t need to be replaced for at least 20 years. Solar roof shingles can last even longer depending on the type of climate that you live in.

Solar panels create quiet energy – The heat and electricity generated by solar panels is practically noiseless so you will be making your home a lot quieter to live in when you switch to solar energy.
Solar panels are one of the most low maintenance home improvements – Solar panels do require some maintenance but overall they are pretty easy to take care of. After they are installed if you check them regularly for damage and replace any broken or damaged PVcells you shouldn’t have to do much more maintenance on them.

Solar panels can protect your roof and siding – Since the solar panel array shades the house it means that your roof and siding will last longer because the solar panels will act as a buffer between your home and the elements.

Increased home value – Installing solar panels is really an investment in your home because the resale value of your home will rise significantly once you have solar panels. There is a lot of interest in living in a more environmentally responsible way these days and customers that are looking for new homes are concerned about the impact of their homes on the environment. Having solar power is quite a draw for home buyers.

Solar energy saves money. Even though installing solar panels isn’t cheap once the solar panels start to create energy you will start to see a huge savings in your monthly electric bills and heating bills. You can end up paying next to nothing or even nothing at all for electricity. That is probably the biggest reason that so many homeowners are considering switching to solar energy.

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Types of Solar Panels

Today there are essentially four different types of solar panels that you can purchase easily and use if you want to install solar panels on your home to generate electricity or heat your home. They are Monocrystalline Silicon Panels, Polycrystalline Silicon Panels, String Ribbon Silicon Panels, and Amorphous Silicon Panels.

Monocrystalline Silicon Panels – Monocrystalline (or single-crystal) silicon solar panels have a return electricity rate of anywhere from 14% to 18%. These panels are made from one continuous sheet of silicon that has pieces of metal nailed to the edges to increase the conductivity and to excite the electrons.
Monocrystalline panels are more expensive than some of the other types of solar panels that you can buy but they are also more effective, so in the long run you’re better off buying these panels if you can afford the up front cost.

Polycrystalline Silicon Panels – Polycrystalline (or multi-crystal) silicon panes have an electricity return rate of about 12%-14% so they are less efficient than monocrystalline silicon solar panels. These panels are made up of lots of individual PVcells that have metal conducting materials nailed to the sides that will help excite the electrons and also connect the cells together.

Polycrystalline silicon panels are the cheapest solar panels to produce so they are usually the cheapest for consumers to buy. The maintenance costs of polycrystalline silicon panels is lower than the maintenance cost of monocrystalline solar panels because if one of the cells on a polycrystalline panel is damaged you can have the individual cell replaced without having to replace the entire panel.
String Ribbon Silicon Panels – String ribbon silicon panels are made in a similar way to the polycrystalline silicon panels and have about the same electricity return rate. The difference between string ribbon silicon panels and polycrystalline silicon panels is that the PVcells in a string ribbon panel are made of strips of silicon attached to metal bars that connect the strips to form a cell. Using strips of silicon to form the cell instead of using one solid square of silicon make the production cost of string ribbon silicon panels a bit lower than the production cost of polycrystalline silicon panels.
Amorphous Silicon Panels – Amorphous silicon panels have the lowest electricity return rate of any type of solar panels. Traditionally amorphous silicon solar panels have an electricity return rate of between 5%-6%. That’s because these panels aren’t made with crystalline silicon. They are composed of a piece of semi conductive metal, like copper, with a thin silicon film over the top that is attached to some metal pieces.

These panels are very cheap to produce but when you’re buying solar panels for home use you need to consider the long term efficiency of the type of panel that you’re buying. Unfortunately, though cheap to begin with they do not produce much energy, therefore amorphous silicon panels are not going to be cost effective in the long run.

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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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