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Questions

How Do Solar Panels Actually Work?

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Solar panels are simple devices that are used to absorb energy from the sun’s rays and eventually convert them into heat. In a deeper explanation, a solar panel is made of numerous photovoltaic cells which are therefore responsible for generating the heat by converting the energy found from the sun’s rays. Usually, the photovoltaic cells are arranged in a specific pattern in the surface provided by the plates specifically designed for them. Therefore, meaning is derived as a set of photoreceptive modules that are fixed in a structure favorable for them in terms of size and number.

 

Psychically, the panels are very hard to wear. To be exact, the panel wears out extremely very low estimating too many years of service. It is estimated that in one year, the effectiveness of the solar reduces by one or two percent which in some times it’s less than that.

 

Apart from the main work of the solar panel, what is the science behind its translation of energy to electricity?

We have already deduced that the photovoltaic cells are responsible for the conversion. A photovoltaic cell is made of a twin slice material that works as a semi-conductor. The material is in most cases made of silicon which is also used in microelectronics.

 

For the generation to happen, the photovoltaic cells must initiate a field rather than a magnetic field. All scientists conclude that from a magnetic field to form, opposite poles must be present. Therefore a field is formed after the opposite charges are separated. Therefore, for the manufacturer to initiate a field, the mix silicon with other materials making each twin to either get a positive or a negative charge.

 

Precisely, they coat phosphorous in the upper layer of silicon, which as a result produces more electrons that are negatively charged to the coat. During that time, the lower layer accumulates a trace of boron which results in lower electrons which charge positively. However, by the time the two chargers are formed, an electric field is evident in between the silicon layer. Eventually, when a ray of the sun heats the surface, the electric field in between the layers is forced out of the junction causing electricity.

Since there are numerous similar components, there is a continuous production of power throughout providing electricity. The electricity is then conducted to the surface of the metallic places which takes it directly to the wires which in turn deposit the already made electricity into the consumer or the preservation battery for future use.

 

Recently, with the efficiency of the developed technology, there has been an invention of ultra thin and flexible photovoltaic cells. The cells are estimated to be 1.3 microns thick and surprisingly similar to 1% the usual width of a human hair. You can imagine the thickness! That must be very thick to see with bear eyes except when using microscopes. Also adding mounting the amazements, the solar cells are preferably said to be 20 times lighter a piece of normal paper found in offices. All said done, the solar cells do not affect its efficiency which is considered the same as that of the glass-made solar panels. The researcher has it that, this kind of flexible solar cell can be incorporated in other fields like architecture, aerospace technology and also in wearable electronics. Imagine a world with a moving, invisible solar everywhere the individual goes! Amazing!

 

As much as solar panels are concerned, there are other various types of solar technology. Among them includes solar thermal and concentrated solar power. They are operating in different schemes but have a common goal and that all derive power from sun rays to manufacture electricity. In most cases, the solar panels are made up of crystalline silicon energy cells.

 

Relatively, there are three types associated with solar panels in the current technology. However, the three types are worth noting since they appear in the modern market. They are;

 Monocrystalline

 Polycrystalline

 Thin-film amorphous

 

There is no much difference between the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar since from their name, mono means one and poly represents more than one. Simply all are made from the crystalline silicon. Research indicates that for the last 2-3 years ago, the monocrystalline solar was more popular in America but the situation has changed over recent times and the polycrystalline has been proved to be dominant. For those willing to invest in installing solar panels in their homes, it is more important they choose a brand that is fully invested in the quality and that emphasizes more in their reputation.

When it comes to performance, the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are the same. The main difference in both is the degree of efficiency invested during manufacture. Defects during the performance and the availability of a warranty if at any case one buys a faulty solar also plays a major part in which company a person chooses.

 

Thin film, unlike both monocrystalline and polycrystalline, differs in technology therein when manufacturing. Despite its disadvantage was it less efficient than the others and considerably uses more space has its pro when there is an unfavorable environment and light is not enough or any occurrence of hindrance in the system. The thin-film also can be of help during extreme heat experience of the system.

Finally, when selecting between the different types of solar energy, one must be briefly aware of the pros and cons of each.

 

 

Monocrystalline solar cell

 

Pros

 They are highly efficient since they are made of high silicon grades. They can convert a least 22% of sunlight into power.

 They have achieved a world record module conversion estimated to 22.5% efficiency which has led to the mass production technology of solar panels all over the world.

 Monocrystalline solar cells use less space compared to thin firm type.

 In terms of lifespan, then monocrystalline solar is the correct call to make. Companies producing the solar offer even a 25 years warranty which shows they are sure about the quality.

 While using monocrystalline solar, you will notice that they are more efficient in warmer environments.

 

Con

 It is very expensive to install monocrystalline solar compared to others.

 

 

Polycrystalline solar panels

 

Pros

 During manufacturing, it easier to make and process and are found in lesser prices

 They have a lower heat tolerance when compared to monocrystalline.

 

Cons

 Polycrystalline solar panels are made of lower silicon quality hence lower efficiency levels which range from 14% and 16%.

 To have more power from the type, one must invest in a considerable similar space when installing rendering it expensive.

 Polycrystalline compared to the other types do not incorporate uniformity.

 

 

Thin-film solar panels

 

Pros

 Favorable for mass production

 Has a homogenous look that renders it appealing to watch

 It’s flexible

 High temperatures and shade on the system does not affect its efficiency

 In situations of large space, thin-film is considered recommendable.

 

Cons

 Cheap but require a lot of space which does not favor residential areas.

 It’s worse when viewed in terms of space efficiency.

 Thin film is not durable compared to the crystalline type of solar.

Tips

Tips & Tricks for an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

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Holidays come with a spell of enjoyment and an overabundance of presents. However, they can produce bushels of waste that can have severe damage to the environment. Luckily, a few easy, careful tweaks can make a significant impact on keeping the environment clean. This includes;

 

 

Reduce Energy in Your Home

There are lots of ways in which you can cut down the energy that you use in the home. This will lead to lesser energy bills and extra cash in your pockets, which will, in turn, be a win for you as well as a win for the entire Earth. Unplug all the pieces of equipment when they are not in use. During the holiday season, you might have many people in your house and thus having lots of clothing to wash. Clean all the clothing on cold (since about 85 % of the energy that is used to machine wash the clothes usually goes to heating the water) and make use of a clothesline or drying rack to dry your clothing when they are done with washing. To reduce your energy in your home is exactly as simple as the click of a push button. If you feel uncomfortable to take every one of these steps at one time, try each of it at a time until your household is entirely energy efficient!

 

 

Recycle and repurpose

Why should you buy new when you can make use of what you have already purchased? It is surprisingly effortless to recycle as well as up-cycle. Here are several of the easy, eco-friendly ideas that you can try:

 

• Pick decorations that you will use again and again. You can decorate with live plants.

• Go for reusable bags or reusable cloth wrapping for your gifts.

• Keep the gift bags as well as bows to use again in the future.

• Let your guests go home with the leftovers after the holiday meals.

• Recycle the wrapping paper, cards, and envelopes provided that they are not glittery or metallic.

• Check if there is a tree-recycling program in your locale.

• Indeed, you can continue doing these things throughout the year and not only during the holidays.

 

 

Reduce the Wastage of Water

Live an eco-friendly life by using a reduced amount of water and by cutting off bottled water purchases. Put aerators taps in your bathrooms. Aerator taps are an economical and easy way to put a green touch to your bathrooms and kitchens. This petite metal filter immensely reduces the usage of water, prevents water from splashing, and also shapes the water flow by allowing air in. This investment is worth it.

 

 

Add solar panels to your roof

Fixing a solar power in your house this holiday season is a one-time investment which would really lessen your electricity bills. Going energy means not needing to rely on the usual energy infrastructure. It will be a great point of dissimilarity when the would-be guests scroll through the listings looking for a home that is necessary for them (if you install in your rentals)

 

 

Acquire the correct Light Bulb

It is not to say that you replace every of your light bulbs even if they are still operational. However, when one of your light bulbs gets exhausted, change it with an eco-friendly brand. You can replace your previous bulb with a compacted fluorescent light. This is because CFL bulbs usually last over five times longer, and they use a much lesser amount of electricity than standard luminescent light bulbs. Besides, they are brighter, and this means that you may able to manage with fewer lights in your home!

 

 

Use Reusable Bags

This helps to cut down waste as well as making your surrounding eco-friendlier. Use Canvas Bags in place Of Plastic. The majority of the stores usually offer a canvas bag option to their inefficient common paper and plastic bags. Even though canvas bags may cost a little amount to get them, they are really much more helpful than you may think. Canvas bags are stronger than usual paper or plastic bags, and they usually carry more goods. They can as well be used for storing items or packing items when you are moving. This makes it handy in more than just one way.

 

 

Avoid Disposable Containers

Try as much as you can, to avoid additional packaging during the holidays. When this is more easily said than done, purchasing food in bulkiness, serving food with completely washable utensils, as well as making home-produced items (such as cookies and hot chocolate) in vast quantities might help. Remember also to cover your gifts in reusable or sustainable items, such as old newspapers, or unnecessary maps. If every American family cover three of their gifts in reusable items this holiday, it will help to reduce waste significantly!

 

 

Turn off your appliances

Conservation of Energy is among the most important things that you can do to lessen your carbon footprint. When you leave your electrical on a standby mode, they unnecessarily use up a lot of energy. Always press the off switch off button, and you will see a considerable improvement, and most evidently in your monthly energy bills. Turning off your appliances at the mains switch is one way to conserve energy. Instead of leaving them standby will save vast amounts of carbon which will save you your coins on the energy bill

 

Recycle your Car.

You might not know this, but recycling your car is among the best ways of living in an eco-friendly life. While making the changes, you might look to find additional gas-friendly natural as well as organic means of cleaning that are extremely less harmful.

 

 

Buy local

From food to clothes, the nearer to home the cheaper they would be, these kinds of stuff are made and purchased at a low price,Therefore the fewer the carbon is produced with their shipping. Not just that, but you will support the home economy, and this means that with time, you will probably have even additional home items to select from.

Electricity Energy Efficiency Solar Panels

Why Solar is the Fastest Growing Energy Source in the US

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As we approach the new decade, we’ve entered a new world of energy sources. In 2016 solar was the fastest growing source of energy in the world, and it has only continued to grow since. In 2014, renewable energy made up 24% of global electricity generation and is projected to grow to 31% by 2040. By the year 2050, solar energy alone is projected to increase to 36% of renewable generation, up from 7% in 2015.

 

According to executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency Dr. Fatih Birol, “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics (PV). We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022.”

 

What is driving the growth?

 

Projected growth in Solar

Along with recognizing the growth in solar, it is equally important to understand why solar is growing. There are three prime factors that are driving the expansion of solar energy; market conditions, policy decisions, and specific regulations geared toward reducing carbon emissions and moving quickly to adapt renewable energy in lieu of fossil fuels. In 2016, 196 different nations signed the Paris Climate Agreement which sought to reduce carbon emissions by 20% and increase renewable energy’s share of the market to 20% as well as increase energy efficiency by 20%. Independently, businesses are taking their own efforts to utilize renewable energy by building their own facilities using solar roofs. In 2017 a United Nations cited a study from International Renewable Energy Association that found switching to clean energy sources such as hydro and solar could accomplish 90% of the climate goals set by the Paris Accord.

 

Part of why solar energy is experiencing such rapid growth is due to how accessible it is and how easy it is to harness. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the amount of solar radiation that reaches earth’s surface every hour is more than the total amount of all energy used by human activity in a given year. According to the IEA; India, the United States, and China will account for 2/3rd of all renewable energy expansion. 

 

The U.S.’ booming solar market

 

solar energy

 

While during the previous administration, the United States saw the largest boom in oil production in US history, now the US is poised to see a massive boom in solar production. According to International Business Times, based on reliable indicators all signs point to a huge boom in solar production through 2024 and likely beyond that. The Solar Energy Industry Association cites the passage of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2006 as the catalyst that provided stability in the industry, allowing solar to experience an average annual growth rate of 50% during the past decade. 

 

The ITC alone has proven to be a highly effective policy in job creation and energy production. Since its passage, the ITC has created north of 200,000 American jobs and added $140 in private sector investment into the economy. On top of that, the ITC helped grow solar deployment by 10,000 percent since its introduction. 

 

Despite recent efforts by the US to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the solar industry is still experiencing rapid growth and prices continue to drop. Even with the current administration’s promises to focus on coal, Green Solar Technologies projects that, “[w]ith the solar industry growing at such exponential rates, it seems that the U.S. is on track to switch its fossil fuel dependence to renewables like solar over time.” Similarly, the SEIA projects that global solar capacity will more than double by 2024.

 

Environmental awareness among consumers

 

Solar energy

Not only is there surge in renewable sources of energy such as solar, led by governmental policy, consumers as well have created a new demand for environmental consciousness. According to a 2018 report from Nielsen, “Consumers in markets big and small are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally conscious and are exercising their power and voice through the products they buy.”

 

With that, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen, in total 81% of consumers believe that companies should play a role in preserving the environment. Nielsen noted that this is not just wishful thinking on the part of the consumer but that it plays an increasing role in the companies that consumers do business with. Particularly among younger generations, consumers are more drawn to engage with companies that take environmental efforts to reduce the harm of climate change, creating a market demand for environmental consciousness. 

 

solar energy

 

Another factor driving this increased demand for alternatives such as solar energy is health and health related issues. A negative externality of climate change is a decrease in air and water quality. Specifically, health issues such as typhoid and asthma are linked to decreasing air and water quality. Similarly, according to the World Health Organization, 12.6M people die each year due to environment related causes attributed to changing climate. 

 

Similarly, on the consumer end of things, the spike in energy prices has created a new appeal of switching to solar as a source of energy. This phenomenon has two main driving points; 1) the costs of solar are dropping at exponential rates and 2) electricity prices are surging. In some ways these two correlate with each other. A Bloomberg report from this past summer noted that the road to a green infrastructure necessarily led to skyrocketing electricity prices. Regardless, recent backlashes against electric companies such as PG&E in California for forced blackouts or APS in Arizona for repeated rate increases, has solar looking like a great alternative source. 

 

Conclusion

 

Solar as a source of energy has been declining in price and rising in demand in tandem with traditional electricity sources becoming more expensive. According to a new article in PV Magazine, the cost of solar has gone down by 89% during the past decade with an average annual decline of 20%. There are multiple factors responsible for the decrease. From a rise in environmental consciousness among consumers to the Investment Tax Credit in the US market and the surging solar market in China, solar energy is projected to soar over the next coming decades not just in the US but around the world.

Electricity

APS Seeks Rate Increase, Opening Lane for Solar to Rise

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Last month, Arizona Public Service company (APS), announced it would seek a new $184 million rate increase. According to the formal request submitted to regulators, the proposed hikes would raise rates for the average household bill by 5.4%. This announcement comes just 2 years after APS raised rates by 4.5% in 2017. Increasing electric rate projections opens up a lane for solar to emerge as an alternative.

APS to hit customers with rate increases

 

APS raising rates

 

In July, the Arizona Corporation Commission ordered APS to undergo a rate case after 2 years of customer complaints over the company’s prices. When casting her vote on ordering the rate case, Commissioner Sandra Kennedy declared, “the people of Arizona are sick and tired of being sick and tired.” The final vote in favor of the case was 5-0. 

 

At the time, AZCentral noted that though the initial reason for the case was in part due to concerns about the company’s prices being too high, that the result of the case could actually lead to higher prices yet. The proposed increases would cost average consumers using 1,020 kw hours of electricity per month an additional $7.50. That rate would of course increase during the summer when usage is higher and decrease during the winter months. 

 

The deal has not yet been finalized and according to Phoenix Fox 10, customers would likely not see any changes on their bill until late 2020. In their request, APS cited its investments in creating clean and renewable energy and improving infrastructure as the need to pull in $184M. The company’s rate case program manager Drew Schroeder commented on the pending case stating that, “The rate case is our opportunity and bring forward receipts and ask for recovery of those investments.”

 

This request comes amidst several controversies involving APS including two heart related deaths as a result of power being shut off during the summer for late payments, and a federal investigation into the company’s spending on political campaigns. “It’s arrogant for them to be coming on the heels of all of those things and asking people for another $184 million,” said consumer advocate Stacey Champion, adding that APS already has the highest electric bills of any utility service in the state. 

 

Soaring electric prices

 

Solar

 

Over the past decade there has been a steady rise in electric prices. According to the Energy Information Administration, electric rates have increased 15% in the last 10 years. In just 2019 alone, EIA projects that the electric rate increase for residential users will be 1.2%. Across the globe demand for electricity has increased. In 2018 global demand rose by 4%. In Texas, which has seen huge spikes in temperatures during the summer of late, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas warned that as demand continues to rise, price rises will follow. 

 

While energy prices have gone up, during the same time, prices for solar have gone down dramatically. According to a study from UC-Berkeley, between 2017 and 2018, the price of solar dropped 11%. Since 2010, while prices for electricity have gone up, the price of solar has plummeted by 85%. Additionally, according to Bloomerg’s New Energy Finance outlook report from this year, by 2050 the price of solar will fall by 63% compared to today’s prices.

 

The cost of installing solar for residential customers today is a fraction of what it was decades ago. While even just 10 years ago the cost of solar installation was around $50,000, today that price averages between $10-14,000. 

 

Financial benefits of switching from electric to solar

 

solar panels

 

Despite the start-up costs, consumers have financial incentives to switch to solar. Estimated savings on homes that switch to solar range from $13-20,000 over a 20 year period. The estimated average 20-year savings for a solar powered home in Phoenix is $8,000. Additionally, the same UC-Berkeley study found that adding solar panels to a home increases the home value by 3.74%.

 

Solar has proven to be vastly more efficient than standard electric powered homes. A huge advantage of solar is its ability to generate energy, allowing for the storage of excess energy for later use during peak hours. Switching to solar also protects consumers from unpredictable rate changes from electric companies. Those elements combined saves households tons of money on their bills. 

 

Today, solar is the fastest growing energy source in the world. In 2016 solar panel capacity increased by 50%. With the release of the 2018 IPCC report on climate change there has been a surge in demand for renewable energy. Yet unlike standard electricity, prices are only projected to continue going down. As prices for electricity increase, solar will soon become a highly sought after alternative. It’s also estimated that by 2030, both wind and solar energy will undercut existing coal and gas almost everywhere. 

 

With APS proposing yet another electric rate increase, now may be the best time to look into switching to solar. As the price of solar continues to fall while electric rates rise adding more and more to household bills, many will start to turn to solar to save money, increase efficiency, and to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Solar Panels

How Big Is A Typical Solar Panel On A Home?

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Standard Solar Panel Sizes

The usual traditional solar panels commonly come in 2 different configurations: 60-cell and 72-cell.

With that being said, the standard dimensions for each option are:

  • 60-cell panels: 39″ x 66″ (3.25 feet x 5.5 feet)
  • 72-cell panels: 39″ x 77″ (3.25 feet x 6.42 feet)

 

Standard Solar Panel Dimensions

Standard solar panels commonly come in 2 different configurations: 60-cell and 72-cell.

An individual solar cell is a 6” x 6” square. 60-cell panels are laid out in a 6×10 grid. 72-cell panels are laid out in a 6×12 grid.

  • 60-cell panels: 39″ x 66″ (3.25 feet x 5.5 feet)
  • 72-cell panels: 39″ x 77″ (3.25 feet x 6.42 feet)

These are the standard solar panel sizes typically for most residential and commercial installations.

How Big Is the Average Solar Array?

The average household uses approximately 867 kwh of electricity each month. It would take a 6.5 kw of solar array to offset the full usage.

With a 60-cell solar panels with a stock range from 285w to 315w, and a stock of 72-cell panels ranges from 335W to 375W. We can figure out approximately how many panels it would take to build a 6.5 kW (6500-watt) system:

  • 6500W / 285W = 22.8 (23 panels)
  • 6500W / 315W = 20.6 (21 panels)
  • 6500W / 340W = 19.1 (20 panels)
  • 6500W / 375W = 17.3 (18 panels)

An average-sized solar system will contain 18-23 panels depending on the efficiency of the panels you use.

Electricity Energy Efficiency Solar Panels

How Much Power Does a Solar Panel Produce?

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“How do solar panels actually work?” This question is asked many times here at Solar Fuse. Well we can answer this question with also telling your how much power is used, per square foot. This question is not a hard question to answer. The main determination is really figuring out what size solar panel system a homeowner needs and what they want. To understand how much solar power is produced per square foot it’s helpful to know what solar panels are made of.

 

How Solar Panels Are Made

Think of it as a math problem with the equation being: If a solar panel is rated to produce 360 watts, and it’s about 3-and- ¼-feet wide by 5-and- ½- feet long, then each square foot must produce about 20 watts, but this is not necessarily correct.

 

Temperature: Temperature has a lot to do with heat. If there’s too much heat, your solar panels may not work as effectively. Once the heat increases to higher than 77 degrees Fahrenheit, then the power is will decrease. The best panels have a low “temperature coefficient”, so the hot temperatures are minimized and won’t affect the energy saving process.

 

Spectrum: Rainy and cloudy days can also affect your solar panels. Contrary to what most think, solar panels work during cloudy or rainy days. The reason for this is because there is still a wide spectrum of light that is being received by the panels. Although clouds block some light, it never fully block all of sunlight or the spectrum. This is the reason that it is still possible to get sunburned during rainy or cloudy days.

 

Angle: Depending on the angles and direction that your home is facing, this will determine the energy you are saving and how the solar panels are working as well. Most solar panels are built with “anti-reflective glass,” which means once light enters the panel it will reflect back into the solar cell to hold as much power as possible.

 

Amount of light: Typical solar absorption is at its peak around noon, but this also depends on the location. Shadows from trees, dust, leaves and other factors can block light, affecting solar panel power output. Shading can not only hurt power production, but it can also damage solar panels over time.

Energy Efficiency

The Different Factors That Affect Solar Panel Efficiency

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Solar panel efficiency depends on several factors. For one, it’s the percentage of solar energy or even the sunlight that a panel can convert into usable energy and electricity. The higher levels of efficiency, the more usable electricity produced by the same number of panels. These are the important tangibles that you need to know in order to choose the best solar panel for your home.

There are many factors that can affect panel efficiency. Here are some of the most important factors below:

Different Factors for Solar Panel Efficiency:

  • Temperature Control: Panels need solar energy (sunlight) to produce usable electricity, on the contrary to what most think, solar panels are the most efficient at the lowest of temperatures. Panels designed with materials to reduce the impacts of higher temperatures usually have higher efficiencies.
  • Low Reflective Design: Minimizing the reflection of regular light off of a cell’s surface can also create more efficiency. By reducing reflection with regular light, a cell can successfully capture and transform more solar energy into electricity.
  • Low Recombination: Electric current within solar cells typically flow through charge carriers within panels. Generally speaking, there are 2 main forms of recombination, which are; indirect and direct.

 

How to Know What’s the Best Solar Panel for You

Solar energy efficiency is important, but it isn’t everything. Here are a few quick tips for choosing the right solar panel for your home solar project:

  1. Do your research on different kinds of panels to determine what is best for your home.
  2. Examine your roof. Look at the type of roof you have, the size, and the angle so you can determine what you need.
  3. Obtain multiple solar panel quotes. Sometimes the solar panels that you want may cost more with a different solar provider or company.