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Browse our site for the lowest prices on solar panels and renewable energy products by manufacturers including Canadian Solar, Evergreen Solar, Kyocera, BP, GE, Mitsubishi Electric, Powerup, REC Solar, Sanyo, Sharp, Solon, SunWize, Trina Solar, Midnite Solar, Outback, Trace, Xantrex, SunMar, SunnyBoy, Sharp, Prosine, Universal Power Group, Ready Watt, Surrette, Exeltech, Fronius, Heart Interface, Invertek, Magnum Energy, Powertek, Samlex, SMA, and more. What follows is basic history about solar panels and information to help you know what solar panels to buy. Brief History of Solar Panels Solar panels produce electricity from sunlight. The first solar panel-powered satellite was launched in 1958 by Hoffman Electronics, and until the late 1970s solar panels were used primarily to power space satellites, lights, and small electronics like calculators and watches. In the early 1990s Germany and Japan initiated long-term solar panel-installation incentive programs that resulted in lower costs for solar panel power and spurred the growth of robust PV industries in both countries. California Solar Panel Initiative In 2006 California made a major commitment to solar power by adopting the California Solar Initiative, a ten-year incentive program with the goal of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar panels on the equivalent of one-million rooftops. This program continues the solar panel incentives started in 1998, but the long-term commitment to supporting solar will have a profound effect on the amount of solar installed. Solar panels are used extensively in rural areas that are not serviced by the utility grid. These are called off grid solar power systems. This article applies primarily to on-grid or grid-tied systems that are receiving power from an electric utility. For a wealth of information about both types of systems we recommend Home Power magazine, and the Florida Solar Energy Center. How Solar Panels Work Basic System Operation: When sunlight hits the solar panel's cells, direct current (DC) flows through the inverter, which converts it to alternating current (AC). The AC power then flows directly into the building (if there is demand), or into backup batteries if the system has them, or to the utility. When the power is flowing back to the utility grid, the electricity meter turns backward. Solar Panel Components The Components: Photovoltaic cells are the core of the solar panel. They are made up of at least two layers of semiconductor material (usually pure silicon infused with boron and phosphorous). One layer has a positive charge, the other a negative charge. When sunlight strikes the solar panel, photons from the light are absorbed by the semiconductor atoms, which then release electrons. The electrons, freed from the negative layer of semiconductor, flow to the positive layer.....thereby producing an electrical current.Since the electric current flows in one direction (like a battery), the
electricity generated is called direct current (DC). Backers of the green movement would counter that the unrealistic position to hold is expecting our species to be able to go on consuming as we currently do indefinitely with no repercussions. and the electricity they produce is fed through an inverter that changes the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). multi. a balance that humanity has too often let fall to the wayside in recent times. Going green means living within a balance that must exist between you and your environment. Each of these solar panel types is estimated to last at least twentyfive years. It means to minimize your impact on this earth.
. Solar panels are wired together into a PV array. The inverter is the major electronic appliance associated with a grid-tied PV system. and compatible with the electric grid. Some estimate that forty years is a reasonable expectation. glittering future of solar power. They point at the bright. Solar power is a form of renewable energy. and the solar panels usually have a polka dot or checkered pattern. The green movement would be the ³they´ referred to in the preceding paragraph. Single-crystal solar panels are currently the most efficient type available. both scientific breakthroughs and manufacturing triumphs. For instance. what the people involved in the conversation over the future of solar power are talking about. Thin Film Solar Panels Amorphous silicon solar panels (e. plastic. but who are they. making it suitable for homes and business.or poly-crystalline. and that itself is a big part of the green movement¶s agenda. and amorphous silicon.
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Solar panels have become something of a catchphrase in the green movement this decade. Multicrystalline solar panels are made of cells cut from multiple crystals that are grown together in an ingot. a solar panel will gradually produce less and less power over decades. These goals may seem lofty and unrealistic. The longevity rating of a solar panel refers to the number of years before the unit starts producing only 80 percent of its original power rating. They trumpet the recent advances. They are similar to single crystal cells in module structure but slightly less efficient since they require a bit more surface area to produce the same amount of electricity.g. thin film) are made from cells created by depositing a micro-thin layer of silicon directly onto a sheet of glass. meaning that they produce the most power per square foot of module. some solar panels are warranted to produce at least 80 percent of their full-rated power after twenty-five years. such as roofing tiles or shingles. and what does what they say mean for you as a consumer? To understand what the culture around solar panels today stands for. making them easier to transport and ideal for building-integrated uses. they can be mounted on a flexible backing. Although they are less efficient and require up to 50 percent more space. Types of Solar Panels There are three types of solar panels: single crystal. or other substrate. it¶s helpful to know a little bit about the history of solar power. The cells are fragile so they must be mounted in a rigid frame. Many individual cells are wired together in a sealed weatherproof unit called a solar module or panel. Instead of stopping production completely. and offset or even eliminate your use of nonrenewable resources. and where the possibilities depart from reality.
solar panels are a viable alternative energy source. Going off-grid is an especially appealing notion for RV owners. in essence is where we stand today. Manufacturing advances in the past decade have finally lowered the cost of solar panels to the point that a 30% efficiency panel can pay for the cost of production and installation over the first six years of its life. it is one thing to say that the sun showers us with several terawatts of power every day. since cloudy days accompany storm fronts.The Challenge: The primary difficulty with solar power and indeed with its cousin wind power has been one of efficiency. Another advantage of staying connected to the grid is that you won¶t have to have an elaborate in-home battery system to store energy for nights and cloudy days. was only able to elicit a 1% return on the energy he put into his solar cell. Home wind turbines can make a useful augmentation to solar panels in an off grid system. our electric conversion has been turbine based. What does the future hold? The future of solar power revolves around thin film technology. The scientist who first harnessed this effect. and feed excess power back into the power grid. The difficulty with solar panels has always been the efficiency of power transfer. Today the most common use of thin films is in computing. which he dubbed photovoltaic. no matter how well it converts that portion. The California Solar Initiative has been a role model for other states to follow in setting up incentive programs to promote solar power. and the power will be subtracted from the amount you put into the system. One of the reasons behind this is that any given semiconductor only responds to a certain wavelength of light. If those crystals are backed by an array. You see. Through a century of refinement. one of the first applications of them was the use of a thin layer of silver behind glass to create a mirror. Solar panels however. keeping your power on. the sun showers the planet with more energy every day than we use in a year. Where do we stand now? Currently. There is more than enough energy hitting the earth in the form of solar radiation to meet power needs of our species. The majority of modern human power use is electric. where they can be used to create extremely densely packed circuits. Utilities are required to pay you for the power you put into the system. If a home is equipped with a battery chargingsystem and sufficient solar panels.
. This means that solar power is finally economically viable. both environmentally and economically. don¶t utilize a turbine at all. This means we need to convert the radiant solar energy to usable electric current.Grid-tie systems allow you to put up solar panels. it can cut ties completely with the power grid and become self sufficient. So the difficulty has never been the availability of sun and wind. Thin films have been used for centuries. Solar power is even more dramatic. and another thing to put that power to work for us. For more information on the viability of solar power in your area. This isn¶t an act of charity on your part. since panels are designed to run for at least 10 years before they start to break down. Other states with high solar potential and rebates or incentives include Arizona and Florida. we have painstakingly reached solar panels that can produce a return of more than 30% of the power they receive. Estimates indicate that there is four times as much wind energy available for our use as the species uses every year. please visit our free solar evaluation page. which create wind. Local and federal rebate incentives make solar power more affordable than ever today. because it greatly enhances the range and camping ability of their RVs. This means a single-substance solar panel will only ever be able to convert a portion of the sunlight it receives to electricity. This ensures that one of your power sources is always functioning at optimal capacity. as well as information on local incentive programs. because for most of our history. This presents a technological hurdle for us. they are readily available. Instead sunlight striking silicon crystals creates electric potential. History This transfer of sunlight to electric potential has always been an inefficient one. He created his cell by coating a semiconductor (selenium) with gold. That. You can draw on grid power during those times. this potential can be harnessed to create a current. There are also off-grid and mobile solar power options.
. To learn more please visit our Solar Learning Center. This version of a solar panel utilizes multiple thin films of different substances to harness a much wider range of the sun¶s light to create electricity. but with a microfilm layer of solar panels that turned the entire exterior of the building into a clean electricity generating device. a recent test cited a conversion rate of over 60% utilizing this technology. Thus thin film could both open up new markets in solar power and increase the efficiency of solar panels significantly. The resulting panel is much less efficient than comparablecrystalline silicon solar cells (which are the traditional style). Another interesting application of the thin film technique is a multi-junction photovoltaic cell. not with a mere darkening agent. The glass would still be reflective from the outside and translucent from inside. thin films allow manufacturers to use much less silicon than a crystal array requires to create a solar panel. but it is much less expensive as well. it would just generate electricity as well.For solar panels however. Imagine having the exterior glass of an office tower tinted. The same concept could be used for residential building exteriors. and even vehicle paints. It also has applications that the traditional solar cell cannot match.