The sun is not only the source of light but also a source of energy. The plants can use this energy of the sun by a process known as photosynthesis. This energy is then stored in terms of biomass. Something analogous to this is the technique used in case of solar panels. This is an apparatus recently developed to produce solar power from sunlight. There are mainly two ways in which solar panels can help you in your home or office – Photovoltaic unit and Water heating systems. The article further elaborates on these two.
Photo voltaic panel or module
A photovoltaic module or panel is composed of a number of inter connected photovoltaic cells also commonly called solar cells. These solar cells are placed on the panel in the form of wafers. These wafers are manufactured from a thin film of a very commonly used semiconductor, silicon. Silicon has a special property of being extremely sensitive to photos in the sunlight. Thus it captures the energy carried by the photons and then converts it into electrical energy. This energy is then stored in the solar cells for future use. Diodes are also included in this type of solar panel to avoid overheating of the photovoltaic cells.
Photovoltaic panels have a high initial cost but require little maintenance except that need to be well protected from strong mechanical shock as they are extremely fragile and brittle.
SOLAR THERMAL COLLECTORS
As the name suggests, these types of solar panels are used to collect the heat from the sun. This heat can then be used to heat up water to produce solar hated water or can be use to boil water into steam which is in turn used to move turbines and generate electricity. The types are multitudinous, but the most commonly used are the flat screen solar thermal collectors as water heating systems.
This particular kind consists of a well protected and insulated black flat sheet of an absorber element. Under this sheet are black absorber pipes that are hollow to carry water. When the sun’s rays hit the panel the black sheet and the pipes absorb the heat and pass it on to the flowing water by means of simple convection. This solar heated water can then be used for many purposes in homes or offices. The solar heating systems are in widespread use in many colder regions of the world.
Although the thermal collectors are efficient in providing high temperature the results may vary in days of diffused light i.e. cloudy days.