With the cost of fuel rising, most consumers are feeling the energy pinch. Even through times of brief respite in the price, we can be pretty sure that the lower prices will not last. It should not be an excuse to stop searching for alternative energy sources however. If the government is taking to long to move the nation into alternative fuels, we can all do something ourselves to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Solar Panels, cheap alternative way to produce electricity for the home, is one-step in the right direction for reducing our dependence on foreign fuels, which individuals can take on their own. Solar panels that are used to produce electricity are also known as a photovoltaic panel. A photovoltaic panel is an assembly of interconnected photovoltaic cells or solar cells. Solar crystalline cells are a crystalline-based structure that is able to take sunlight and convert it into electricity. The more photovoltaic cells that are on a panel, the more electrical current can be produced. In order for the solar panels to be useful in practical applications of an alternative electrical source, they must be constructed in a certain way. The solar cells must be:
1) Electrically connected to each other as well as the rest of the system.
2) Protected from physical damage from situations such as hail, wind and snow, because some types of solar cells are brittle.
3) Protected from moisture such as rain and humidity so the metal contacts don’t get corroded, or the cells don’t form an oxide layer, which will decrease performance.
4) Electrically insulated, especially under rainy conditions.
5) Sturdily mounted.
Since sunlight is really made from a huge range of electromagnetic frequencies, solar cells only are able to convert a small percentage of sunlight into useable electricity. Solar cells can now be created to maximize their efficiency by using the different frequency ranges of sunlight, yet that would require an additional device to separate the different frequencies and shine them on the appropriate group of solar cells that are designed to specifically convert that frequency of sunlight. It is estimated that this technique would increase the efficiency of solar cells by 50%. Currently without this method, solar cell efficiencies are in the range of 5 to 19%, which is actually a higher efficiency than solar panels produced in earlier years. There are new processes being researched, which will concentrate the solar light to the photovoltaic modules and can raise the efficiency up to 30%. With today’s technology, the average solar panel can produce about 140 watts of electricity.
Solar panels create electricity from an unlimited source, the Sun, which is a major benefit for using them. When the Sun stops shining, not having electricity will be the least of your concerns. The traditional standard crystalline silicone solar cell modules have about a 25 yr life span. Over 4 million of these modules were sold in 2007 alone.
Solar panels provide a cheap alternative to energy in the long run because the power source is is not a fossil fuel and creates electricity from a renewable resource and the byproducts are not carbon dioxide, or other waste products that will damage or affect the environment. Old solar panels can be recycled so they don’t end up in landfills. It is easier now than ever to create a solar system for your home and reduce your energy costs needed to power your home.