Solar energy is one of the cleanest types of renewable resources. Technology that utilizes potential energy from the sun’s rays to produce electricity and heated water has been around for several decades. Despite the numerous benefits involved with harvesting solar power, there are a number of slight limitations with this type of energy. However, consumers are still encouraged to employ residential solar panels, commercial solar panels and other solar devices to help the environment and gain energy independence.
Types of Solar Panels
Solar panels consist of PV (photovoltaic) cells that feature a wafer of silicone that has been dipped in boron solutions and phosphorous solutions on opposite sides. There are three types of solar panels on the market including amorphous cell panels, mono-crystalline cell panels and poly-crystalline cell panels. Solar panel systems are available in many sizes. A system of solar roof panels can be constructed to fit onto almost any rooftop. Solar powered lights do not necessarily need much energy to operate; they often employ smaller, portable solar panels.
The solar device that is used to supply heated water to a given population is the flat plate collector. Flat plate collectors are made up of water-filled pipes that are heated by solar radiation.
Cost of Solar Panels
In terms of initial purchase cost, there is not much difference between amorphous, mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline solar panel systems. Generally, home solar panels cost anywhere between $8 and $12 per watt. Amorphous panels can cost in the $10 range per watt. Mono-crystalline solar panels cost between $10 and $11 per watt while poly-crystalline solar panels run $8.50 to $9.50 per watt. A flat plate collector with an 80 gallon per day capacity can cost up to $4,000. A 1,700 gallon per day flat plate collector can cost up to $50,000. Used solar panels can be employed to create cheaper home solar power systems.
Solar Power Cost Effectiveness
Employing residential solar panel systems can lead to long-term savings. Solar panels and flat plate collectors are rated to last for over 25 years if they are properly maintained. While the cost to buy solar panels may not necessarily be cheap, the energy savings from utilizing solar energy systems covers the cost of most solar installations within 5 to 10 years. Government incentives are offered by most states to consumers that employ solar devices. Residents can qualify for $3,000 worth of government assistance to install solar devices.
Solar Power Experiments
There are active experiments facilitated by solar energy companies involving solar energy harvesting taking place across the globe. In the Mojave Desert, an experiment involving numerous curved mirrors is underway in an attempt to supply a large number of people with power. Oil is being heated up by solar energy to a temperature exceeding 735 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boils and the steam moves turbines when hot oil is pumped below a water supply.
Limitations of Solar Power
Solar power does have its limitations. When the sun is not shining, solar devices cannot produce electricity. Solar panels are usually hooked up to solar power generators that store energy harvested on bright days. Unfortunately, greenhouse gases are released by generators which slightly offsets the environmental benefits associated with solar panels.