Your Questions About Solar Panel Efficiency

Maria asks…

Assume that a solar panel has an efficiency of 18 percent.?

Also assume that solar energy hits the panel at a rate of 1000 W (watts) in full sunlight.

a) What is the output of the panel?
b) How many 60 W light bulbs can be operated using the panel?

ssadmin answers:

0.18 x 1000W = 180W
180W / 60W = 3 lightbulbs

Nancy asks…

What will be the efficiency of silicon solar panels at mars and for satellites in its orbits.?

wanted to knw wheter the intensity of the sun rays affect the solar panel functioning at mars and if yes by how much will it affect ?

ssadmin answers:

Hi. The efficiency will be the same as at Earth but the light received will be less.

Charles asks…

what is the efficiency of fixed solar panel system?

ssadmin answers:

Most commercially available modules are 10% to 15% efficient.
Inverters are in the 95% range. Overall equipment efficiency is 8% to 14%.

Laura asks…

Can prisms be used to increase the efficiency of solar panels?

So I've had a nagging question about solar energy since high school that I've never found an answer to.

It's my understanding that the energy output of a solar panel is highly dependent on the wavelengths of light hitting the panel. For example, a panel might be completely useless across 80% of the visible spectrum, but within the other 20% it might gradually become more and more efficient until it is able to absorb nearly all the energy striking the panel.

So my question is:

If you had a concentrated beam of light shining into an enclosed space, what would be the most efficient way to capture its energy?

-If you were capture the light directly with solar panels you might be able to get up to 43.5%(most efficient to date) but today's commercial cells average about 12-16%.

-However if you instead directed the light through a prism, seperating the white light into its component wavelengths, you would be able to address individual portions of the spectrum seperately with whatever photovoltaic compound would be most efficient. Then you wouldn't have to waste the ~80% of the light that some panels can't convert to energy. You would be capturing each wavelength with the most efficient compounds we have available. You could potentially reach double the efficiency of today's most advanced panels in a very simple way depending on how standard commercial panels work under isolated pieces of the spectrum.

Of course, you would need a well made prism that would scatter the light in a consistent pattern. Also, this might not be nearly as practical in application when you have to consider the parabolic mirrors needed to collect the light.

I appreciate any criticism of my idea, I just need to know why this doesn't work. Thanks.

ssadmin answers:

Kind of like what they're trying to do with multi-junction solar panels, quantum dots and organic dyes. The problem with a prism is that it increases the real estate needed for the various substrates which is why a multi-layer approach is being favored.

The 42.8% voltaic panel from the University of Delaware used efficient “spectral splitting optics” to achieve their efficiency. Sound a little familiar… They split the light into three to get 42.8% efficiency.

Mandy asks…

If a solar panel that was 40.8% efficient & was the size of 15″x15″ what kind of Wattage can we expect?

I saw a 15″x15″ Trickle Charge on Amazon that only had 5 watts:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006JO0TC/ref=s9_simh_gw_p263_d1_g263_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1AYZ8JNZFSMMRAQZFN0D&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

and a report on the new Solar Panels @ 40.8% efficiency:
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2008/08/nrel-solar-cell-sets-efficiency-record-of-40-8-53334

and the alleged 42.8% from:
http://www.udel.edu/PR/UDaily/2008/jul/solar072307.html

What kind of wattage can we expect from the 42.8% solar panel?
Also, how much money do you think it will cost for each at the size of 15″x15″?

ssadmin answers:

It could get a peak of 60 watts in bright sunlight.

Most solar pannels are only 10% efficient, they don't get direct sunlight and the sun isn't always really bright.

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