The sun is probably the most dominant source of energy on Earth; it provides virtually free energy for our planet. Unfortunately, the energy that the sun provides is too weak to use directly by humans. Fortunately, the sun’s energy can be harnessed by means of solar panels. These panels allow us to collect and store the sun’s energy for later use. In this article, we will discuss the various ways that solar panels capture energy from the sun.
Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panel
A photovoltaic (PV) solar panel is a solar energy converter that transforms sunlight directly into electricity. It is composed of many small solar cells (also known as solar “cassettes”) that are interconnected. The way that PV solar panels work is by absorbing sunlight and converting it into electricity using solar cells.
When a photon of light enters a solar cell it becomes energetic enough to knock an electron out of its bonded orbit around the nuclei of atoms in the silicon. The electron is freed and moves along a path towards an electrical circuit, generating electricity as it goes. A single solar cell can only produce a small amount of electricity, but due to their small size and light weight, hundreds of thousands of solar cells can be fitted into an array and be interconnected to create a large amount of electricity. This is why photovoltaic solar panels are so useful – they can transform the Sun’s energy into electricity efficiently and effectively.
PV solar panels are very popular because they are relatively cheap to manufacture and install. They are also very effective at converting sunlight into electricity. However, they do have some downsides. They are not able to produce energy when it is cloudy or dark outside. In addition, because they are made from silicon, they are relatively brittle and can break easily. This makes them more vulnerable to damage from extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornados, and tsunamis.
Thermal Solar Panel
A thermal solar panel operates using the same basic principle as a photovoltaic solar panel, however, in a thermal solar panel the sunlight is used to heat a working fluid (typically water) which is then used to generate electricity. In a standard arrangement, a solar panel is placed on a roof with an opening facing east (or west) to allow for maximum exposure to the sun’s rays.
The amount of energy that can be harvested from a thermal solar panel is directly proportional to the surface area of the panel. In addition, the more surface area that is exposed to the sun’s rays, the more efficient the panel will be at converting solar energy into electricity. A large surface area allows for a greater temperature differential between the heat and cold side of the panel and so produces more electricity.
Thermal solar panels are more efficient than photovoltaic panels at converting sunlight into electricity. This is because they can operate even when it is cloudy outside or dark outside, making them more flexible in terms of when they can be used. In addition, they are less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and so safer to install. Also, the materials used for thermal solar panels are more environmentally friendly than those used for photovoltaic panels. However, thermal solar panels require a fair amount of space to operate because it takes a lot of room to heat a large body of water.
Packed Ice Thermal Solar Panel
Packed ice thermal solar panels are manufactured using a special type of plastic, shaped into discs, which are sandwiched between two layers of thick plastic. These layers of plastic act as a shield protecting the ice discs from extreme temperatures and so preventing any damage. In addition, the two layers of plastic prevent any light from entering and so maximising the amount of energy that can be harvested from the sun.
When sunlight hits the packed ice thermal solar panel, it is absorbed and some of it is reflected back whilst other parts are scattered and so reduced. The scattered light is then converted into heat by the panel. This heat is then transferred to the inner layers of the panel where it gets trapped. The trapped heat is then used to generate electricity using thermoelectric cooling. These types of solar panels are popular because they are relatively easy to install and so cheaper to buy. In addition, they are flexible enough to be moved to different locations whenever required. However, the efficiency of these panels comes at a price – they are extremely heavy and so hard to transport. They are also not suitable for regions where it often gets either very hot or very cold thereby making them susceptible to damage in such environments.
Radiant Radiation Thermal Solar Panel
A radiant radiation thermal solar panel is a highly efficient alternative to the packed ice thermal solar panel. It operates in a similar fashion but instead of using trapped heat to generate electricity, the electricity is generated using a heat pump and an electrical circuit. When sunlight is absorbed by a radiant radiation thermal solar panel it is not only converted into heat but its electromagnetic spectrum is also used to pump liquids; i.e. water, for example, can be pumped using an electric motor that is powered by the absorbed sunlight.
In a typical arrangement, a radiant radiation thermal solar panel is composed of an array of semiconductors that are arranged in a configuration similar to a flower pot. When sunlight shines on these materials, they absorb the light and create an electrical current which then gets converted into mechanical energy by means of a turbine or an alternator. This energy can then be stored using a storage tank or capacitor and then later used whenever required. In this case, the stored energy would be used to power lighting, small appliances, or other uses of electricity.
Radiant radiation thermal solar panels are extremely popular because they are relatively cheap to purchase and install compared to other types of solar panels. In addition, their efficiency at converting sunlight into electricity is far superior. However, they do have some downsides – they are very expensive to manufacture and so more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornados, and tsunamis. In addition, the materials used to create these panels are very toxic, making them bad for the environment.
The above information should give you a good idea of how solar panels work and how they capture energy from the sun. It is a very efficient way to generate electricity and so much cheaper than purchasing it from the electricity company. In addition, having your own power supply, free from electricity companies, is great for self-sufficient living and for those who want to be independent of the grid.