What is a solar cell? View More
Is any device that directly converts the energy of light into electrical energy through the photo voltaic effect. Another term for a solar cell is Photo Voltaic (PV) Cell. The word “photo” comes from the Greek word for “light” and “voltaic” from the name of Volta, an Italian physicist.
What is a solar array?View More
Also referred to as a photovoltaic array, it is a connected group of solar modules. Systems are designed as a set of linked modules to produce the energy and the meet the energy requirements of a business, home or utility.
How do solar modules work?View More
The sun’s energy is absorbed by solar panels that convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. In the United States, the electrical grid, homes and businesses are built for alternating current (AC) electricity. The DC electricity produced by solar panels is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. The home or business will use the electricity produced and send the excess energy back to the electric grid.
What is an inverter?View More
Inverters change the DC electricity from a solar array into usable AC electricity. There are three basic types of solar energy inverters.
String (or centralized) inverter: In a continuous “string” of connections, a string inverter connects all the solar panels to your electrical panel. While they are the least expensive type of inverter, they have a major drawback. If one of the panels stops producing electricity, it will reduce the performance of the entire solar array.
Micro-inverters: A micro-inverter is installed at each solar panel, which allows each panel to maximize production. The loss of energy production on some of the panels due to shade or time of day will not affect the remainder of the system. These inverters do result in a higher cost than string inverters. Power optimizers: A power optimizer is ideal for systems subject to partial shading, multiple roof surfaces, or panels with different orientations. They are a hybrid of micro-inverter and string inverter systems. Like micro-inverters, power optimizers are installed at each panel. However, instead of converting the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity, the optimizers “condition” the DC electricity before sending it to a centralized inverter.
When were solar cells first developed?View More
Bell Laboratories demonstrated on April 25, 1954 the first practical solar cell. Electrical engineer Daryl Chapin, physicist Gerald Pearson and chemist Calvin Fuller discovered that silicon. Silicon is an element found in sand. It creates an electric charge when it is exposed to sunlight. This same element would later become the prime ingredient in computer chips. The initial invention was considered too expensive for “earthly uses”. However, solar cells were used for the Vanguard 1, the US first satellite. It was equipped with solar panels just four years later, on March 17, 1958.
Is solar energy production a good option for the northern United States, and specifically Wisconsin?View More
We think of states like Arizona, California and other sunbelt states as ideal for solar power. But it can be a good option for northern states, too. While the intensity of the sun is less, it will produce ample power if properly sized and placed to maximize the solar energy.
What is the environmental benefit of replacing fossil fuel produced energy with solar energy?View More
Coal is said to produce approximately 975 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt of power produced. That’s 2.15 pounds of CO2. Manufacturing solar panels requires energy to melt the silicon for solar cells. The production of the solar modules works outto 50 grams of CO2 for each kWh. That makes solar twenty times cleaner than coal. Solar energy production produces no CO2 after it is installed. Natural gas produces about half as much CO2 as coal.