Kyle Explains: Solar Panels
I attempt to explain complicated things
Technology is a huge part of our lives. Sustainable electricity is one of the largest concerns today and solar panels offer individuals a way to help the environment while lowering their electricity costs, in some cases eliminating it altogether. Solar panels come in different ranges of sizes, from small panels that are made to charge your phone, to multiple large panels that are made to power a house.
Many places in the world offer energy buyback programs, where the agencies that supply power will credit users the power they generate. This program incentivizes sustainability and helping environmental concerns. Solar power also comes from large solar farms that add power to the grid, these are similar to house panels but are not mounted on houses and cover large amounts of property, usually in sunny, dry areas.
Solar power is created by the sun when rays of sunlight hit cells called photovoltaic cells. These cells are activated by the photons and create an electric charge which is converted through an inverter. The electricity is then used by a house, stored in a battery, or sent to the power grid. Photovoltaic cells are only centimeters in size and hundreds or thousands are required to make a solar panel depending on its use.
There are two main types of solar panels, monocrystalline and polycrystalline. All solar cells are made from silicon. Monocrystalline cells are made from cutting one large silicon block and are more efficient. Polycrystalline are made by melting silicon into individual cells, and is less efficient. Silicon comes in many forms and so do solar panels. One other form is amorphous silicon which is flexible, unlike the other two, and can be made into sheets similar to metal or plastic. It is worth noting that amorphous silicon cells are much less efficient than the other two types of cells.
The average solar panel will last between 20 and 30 years. Wear from storms or use will damage the panels over time, or the chemicals will begin to fall apart, rendering them useless. All electronic devices have a lifespan, 20 to 30 years is a long time, considering most phones, TVs, and computers are replaced in less than five years.
Solar panels are a good investment for nearly any individual who lives in a place where it is sunny more than half of the year. A house usually doesn’t use all of the electricity generated during sunny months, and the credits can be applied during the dark seasons.
Smaller solar panels for cell phones and other devices have been on the market for years, and to my knowledge, none have been so effective as to be picked up by any major companies. Some cellphone companies have released cellphones with solar panels behind the screen, but those phones have not sold well or have been recalled. Solar panels will be a huge part of our future and are a cornerstone for changing the way we produce energy. If you have a solar battery that you like taking camping, hiking, or carry with you be sure to leave a comment!
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