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Solar Energy For Much Brighter Tomorrows

Solar Energy is a wonderful way to harness the sunís power to create heat and electricity, but have you ever wondered exactly how solar energy works? This page will give you a basic and simplistic break down of how solar energy works, the costs involved, how much money you can save, different uses and how you can utilize it at home or on the road.

How Does it Work?

Solar panels are made up of what is called photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells are made of silicon, which is the second most abundant element in the Earthís crust. The silicon, which is a semiconductor, absorbs light that hits one or more combined materials and is able to make electrons move across the boundary and create an electric current which is then used to light homes by placing a metal contact at the top and bottom of the cell.

Glossary of Solar and Photovoltaic Terms

Cell efficiency - The ratio of the electrical energy produced by a photovoltaic cell (under full sun conditions or 1 kW/m2) to the energy from sunlight falling upon the cell.

Charge controller - A component that controls the flow of current to and from the battery subsystem to protect the batteries from overcharge and over discharge. The charge controller may also monitor system performance and provide system protection.

Diffuse radiation - Sunlight received indirectly as a result of scattering due to clouds, fog, haze,dust or other substances in the atmosphere.

Direct radiation - Light that has traveled in a straight path from the sun (also referred to as beam radiation). An object in the path of direct radiation casts a shadow on a clear day.

Flat-plate array - A photovoltaic array in which the incident solar radiation strikes a flat surfaceand no concentration of sunlight is involved.

Fresnel Lens - A concentrating lens, positioned above and concave to a PV material to concentrate light on the material.

Grid-connected - An energy producing system connected to the utility transmission grid. (Also called utility interactive.)

Hybrid system - A power system consisting of two or more power generating subsystems (e.g., the combination of a wind turbine and a photovoltaic system).

Insolation - The amount of sunlight reaching an area, usually expressed in watts per square meter per day.

Load - Electrical power being consumed at any given moment. The load that an electric generating system supplies varies greatly with time of day and to some extent season of year. Also, in an electrical circuit, the load is any device or appliance that is using power.

Parallel connected - A method of connection in which positive terminals are connected together and negative terminals are connected together. Current output adds and voltage remains the same.

Photovoltaic cell - The semiconductor device that converts light into dc electricity. The buildingblock of photovoltaic modules.

Series connected - A method of connection in which the positive terminal of one device is connected to the negative terminal of another. The voltages add and the current is limited to the least of any device in the string.

Solar constant - The rate at which energy is received from the sun just outside the earth'satmosphere on a surface perpendicular to the sun's rays. Approximately equal to 1.36 kW/m2.

Thick cells - Conventional cells, such as crystalline silicon cells, which are typically from 4 to 17 mils thick. In contrast, thin-film cells are several microns thick.

Thin-film cells - Photovoltaic cells made from a number of layers of photo-sensitive materials. These layers are typically applied using a chemical vapor deposition process in the presence of an electric field.

Voltage regulator - A device that controls the operating voltage of a photovoltaic array.

Resource: THE AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY

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Although this page gives a basic overview of Solar Energy, This site will give you a more in depth description and lots more information.

It may be a wired world, but you don't have to be tethered to it! This compact Universal Solar Chargericon is the lightest, fastest solar charger on the market because it delivers a straight charge to your iPod; BlackBerry; or Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Ericsson, Siemens or Motorola cell phone. It eliminates the need for internal battery storage. Fold it open, connect the mini-USB cord with the proper adapter tip (included), and you'll have a full charge in two or three hours of direct sun.

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