Frequently asked questions on Solar Panels, Solar Energy, Solar Heating, Solar Electricity
What is Solar Energy?
- (also known as solar radiation or insolation) is energy from the sun. This energy, in the form of heat and light, supports all life on Earth, drives the Earth's climate and weather and is predominately responsible for the class of resources collectively known as renewable energy.
What is Solar Power?
- Solar power generally describes technologies that convert sunlight into electricity and in some cases thermal or mechanical power. In 1866, the French engineer Auguste Mouchout successfully powered a steam engine with sunlight. This is the first known example of a solar powered mechanical device. Over the next 50 years inventors such as John Ericsson, Charles Tellier and Frank Shuman developed solar powered devices for irrigation, refrigeration and locomotion. The progeny of these early developments are concentrating solar power plants.
Do the solar panels store energy?
- No, the solar panels only provide electrical power, they do not have the ability to hold that power. BUT you can use solar panels to charge rechargeable batteries or you can connect it directly to power a 12V appliance. And once the panels have charged the battery you can then use that to run any electrical devices.
How efficient are solar panels?
- They are very efficient when placed at a southern exposure to the sun. They should receive full sun between the hours of 10 to 3 for best efficiency, and should not be shaded. Even the shade from a small branch can lessen the efficiency. Our UNI-SOLAR® panels, however have Bypass diodes connected across each cell, enabling the modules to produce power even when partially shaded.
Do solar panels loose efficiency over time?
- Yes, but keeping the panels clean from leaves and dirt will maximize the efficiency of the paneks. Many panels, even after 20 years of continuous use still provide over 80% of the generating capacity they originally had.
Are Solar Panels difficult to clean and maintain?
- To clean them simply rinse them off occasionally to remove leaves and debris. Solar panels require very little maintenance beyond this to remain effective.
The modern age of solar power arrived in 1954 when researchers at Bell Laboratories developed a photovoltaic cell capable of effectively converting light into electricity. This breakthrough marked a fundamental change in how power is generated. Since then solar cells efficiencies have improved from 6% to 15% with experimental cells reaching efficiencies over 40%. Prices on the other hand have fallen from $300 per watt to less than $3 per watt.
The utilization of solar energy and solar power spans from traditional technologies that provide food, heat and light to electricity which is uniquely modern. The diversity of form and long history of solar energy are manifest in a wide variety of applications.