If earlier people were dependent on centralized energy supply, now everyone has a good alternative – solar panels. Such equipment is ideal for installation in private houses, summer cottages, and industrial facilities. Power plants have become more affordable and diversified in types and capacities. In this publication, we will take a closer look at the principle of operation of a solar battery, its types and advantages of use in everyday life and in production.
The device and history of the appearance of solar panels
Humanity has long thought about using the inexhaustible energy of the sun. The first attempts were made in the twentieth century. Then the concept of a thermal power plant was developed. However, in practice, it showed very low efficiency, because the concept implied the transformation of the sun’s energy. After analyzing the first failure, scientists came to the conclusion that it is necessary to use the sun’s rays directly. This principle was discovered in 1839. It was founded by Alexander Becquerel. However, many years passed before the appearance of the first semiconductors. They were invented only in 1873. This year can be called the beginning of work on modern prototypes of power plants.
If we talk about what a solar battery consists of, then initially it is worth mentioning photocells. They can be called small generators. It is they who perform the main function – they collect the energy of the sun. Today there are several types of solar panels, which will be discussed in the next section. However, regardless of the type, the modern panel is a base of a certain size on which the aforementioned photocells are placed. These elements are very fragile, so they are additionally protected by glass and a polymer backing.
However, solar panels are only a fraction of the entire power plant. It also includes other elements:
- Accumulator battery.
- Charge controller.
Each of the listed devices performs its own function. The battery accumulates and stores the extracted energy, the controller monitors the power, connects and disconnects the battery, analyzing the charge level. An inverter is also called a converter. This equipment converts direct current into alternating current. Thanks to him, electricity can be used for domestic purposes. The last component of the power plant is the stabilizer. It protects the entire system from power surges.
What types of solar panels are there?
There are several classification criteria by which all solar panels are divided into different types:
- Device type.
- Photovoltaic layer material.
By the type of device, there are two types: flexible and rigid. The first type is distinguished by its plasticity. Such a panel can be easily twisted into a tube without damaging anything. The solid panel does not change its shape. According to the material of manufacture, there are three types: amorphous, polycrystalline, monocrystalline.
Amorphous batteries can be flexible. They are not picky about the place of installation, but the efficiency of such a device is very low. It is no more than six percent. Polycrystalline products have a low price. However, they are more effective in cloudy weather. In very hot weather, their output decreases slightly more than that of monocrystalline modules.
If the maximum effect from the power plant is required, then panels with monocrystalline elements should be preferred. The level of their efficiency reaches twenty-five percent. Monocrystalline panels are more expensive, since monocrystalline silicon requires more energy and time to manufacture.
Scope of solar panels
With the development of new technologies and the development of the concept of solar power, the field of application of panels has become quite wide. Previously, such devices were usually installed in small private houses or summer cottages. They were used exclusively for domestic needs, since the power consumption was minimal. Now there are the most powerful power plants showing high efficiency of work. For this reason, the scope of application of the panels has grown.
Interesting fact! The energy that the Sun emits in one second may be enough to provide electricity for all mankind for five hundred thousand years.
Solar panels have become actively used in industrial and commercial facilities, allowing significant savings on their energy supply. Also, panels are installed in agricultural enterprises, on farms, military space facilities. Less powerful panels are used for the manufacture of various household appliances: flashlights, calculators, chargers, etc. They serve as a source of energy where there is no way to connect to the central network. Such devices are in great demand among hunters, fishermen, and hikers.
Important! Modern solar power plants will be effective everywhere: both at home and at a large industrial facility. However, for this they must be correctly selected for the required power. The calculation of this parameter should be carried out by a specialist.
How a solar panel works: how the device works in simple terms
If you have to buy solar panels, then you must definitely familiarize yourself not only with their device, but also with the principle of operation. So how does a solar panel work? Despite the outward simplicity of the device, the principle of operation of such a power plant is rather complicated. It is based on the photoelectric effect, which is achieved by using photovoltaic cells.
Solar panels collect rays. They end up on the photovoltaic layer. Sunlight releases electrons from two layers. The vacant space from the first layer is occupied by the electrons of the second layer. There is a constant movement of electrons, which leads to the natural formation of voltage on the external circuit. As a result, one of the photovoltaic layers acquires a negative charge, and the other – a positive one.
These actions activate the battery. He begins to gain and store a charge. In this case, the battery charge level is constantly monitored. If it is low, the controller turns on the solar panel. In case of a high charge, the same device turns off the panel. Then the inverter is switched on. It converts current from DC to AC. With its help, a voltage of 220 V appears at the output of the power plant. This makes it possible to connect and power household appliances from the power plant.
Solar panel connection
The efficiency and correct operation of solar panels depends not only on their type, power, but also on the installation and connection. The correct connection diagram for all elements of the power plant must be developed and the place for the installation of solar panels must be correctly chosen. Such work can only be trusted by professionals.
It’s no secret that the output voltage of one panel is relatively low. Usually several batteries are used at the same time. All panels must be connected in parallel-serial manner. This type of connection allows you to ensure maximum efficiency of the equipment.
Advantages, disadvantages of panels
Solar panels have become cheaper, making them more affordable for a wider range of consumers. However, before buying, each person should familiarize themselves in detail with the advantages and disadvantages of this energy supply. Among its indisputable advantages are the following:
- environmental Safety. In our time, ecology is one of the pressing problems. Solar power plants operate in an environmentally friendly manner. They do not emit harmful substances during operation;
- fast payback. The cost of electricity, both for residential users and for businesses, is constantly increasing. With the installation of panels, it is possible to completely or partially switch to an alternative source of energy, which is absolutely free and accessible to everyone. Thanks to this, the purchase and installation of equipment pays off in a few years of work;
- ease of use of the power plant. Despite the complex structure and principle of operation, it is quite simple to operate the station. The main thing is to monitor the health of its components and not save on maintenance, which is not required so often;
- quick installation. Professionals assemble all the elements of the station in just a few hours or days (depending on the number of panels, power, etc.). The selection of components and the purchase of equipment takes more time.
Such installations also have drawbacks. The most basic one is the high cost of equipment. However, do not forget that a large purchase investment will quickly pay off with many years of free use of solar energy. The second serious drawback of solar panels is their dependence on external factors. The efficiency of their work depends on the weather, temperature conditions, position in relation to the Sun, and on the cleanliness of the surface.
How can I get the most out of my batteries?
It makes sense to install a solar power plant only in regions with long daylight hours. Where the day is short, the panels can only be used as an additional light source, but not the main one. As already noted, different types of solar cells have their own efficiency. To achieve the maximum effect, you should choose devices with the highest performance, despite their high cost.
The correct calculation of the power of the entire installation will play an important role. This will allow you to select the required size and number of panels, the capacity of other components of the station. Also, a powerful battery is the key to the efficient operation of the panels. The system should have two batteries, especially during the winter season. The second battery will store enough energy to provide electricity to the object on short days of light.
We must not forget about other factors that affect the operation of the station. The panels must be at the correct angle and must be kept clean. Otherwise, the efficiency of the batteries will be significantly reduced.