Many times an appreciation for a technology is all that it takes for someone to warm up to it. So if you know how solar power works, you are better positioned to accept it as a potential solution for your home power needs. In the past decade, the photovoltaic cells have become one of the most popular products in the market. One of the big reasons for that is the boost the government has given the technology through incentives. These cells are not cheap and with many manufacturers in the market you need to become knowledgeable about these products. You need to be smart enough to pick the right products and solutions.
The sun as we see it today, is one of the largest nuclear reactors known to man. The reactions within the sun continue to produce energy in the form of light. Light consists of photons which are characterised by two factors: wavelength and frequency. The wavelength of a photon is the distance between two photons in the same phase of motion and the frequency is the rate at which the photons change their phases.
The concept of wavelength is important in understanding solar energy products because the sun does not radiate uniformly at all wavelengths. Unless you can appreciate this concept, you will have a tough time figuring out which solar equipment will convert maximum solar energy. Typically the sun radiates more energy in the infra-red range of wavelengths than the visible range. Here you must also understand the idea of colors of various objects. The sun’s light is white light, which means it has all the colors, but when it hits a blue object, you can see the blue color. This is because that object absorbs all the colors and reflects back blue. Logically, anything that seems black in color is absorbing all the light and reflecting none.
While we may feel that sun is not that powerful, the total sunlight that falls on earth’s surface can actually satisfy 35000 times more energy demand than what we need today. If you manage to trap even 6 kWh of energy from a small area of 5 square meters on a sunny day you can power all the appliances in your home. This is the kind of power we are dealing with. All we need is the right equipment to trap maximum power from minimum area for best results.To find more information like this read this EzinArticle about portable solar power. Go there for more info.
At this point it is also interesting to understand the idea of passing radiation. We have seen how certain objects can absorb light and some that can reflect certain wavelengths. Some materials like the glass can actually let the radiation pass through them. These materials are used as solar collectors, because they pass the light radiations and insulate the unit from the heat protecting the PVs in the assembly. Mediums that do not absorb or reflect the entire light, but let some pass through them are called filters. The filter coating that we cover our home windows with is a good example. Similarly, we have several sunglasses with UV filters – these glasses do not allow UV rays to pass, but let other light wavelengths to pass. Filters are vital in the glazing for solar equipment. Glazing is the term used for materials that cover the solar equipment and let the light pass through. With the right filters the most energetic light rays can be passed while the rest are filtered out for very efficient performance. We know that the infra-red range is the best to tap solar energy so the glazing needs to filter out the rest of the light.
It is interesting to note that any material that you pick will have some combination of filter, reflector and absorber features. We talked about windows with filter, but even plain windows do no pass all the sunlight that falls on them. They reflect back 15% of the light and pass the rest. In fact the atmosphere also has similar properties; it is no surprise that sunlight is pleasant at dawn and dusk but harsh during mid-day. In the morning,because of its distance from the earth sunlight must travel much longer through our atmosphere then when it travels at noon. As a result, the rays are weakened at morning and evening as compared to noon.
The same idea holds true for summers and winters as well. During summer more of the sun’s light reaches the earth surface as compared to winters. As a result, more sunlight is reflected and absorbed in summer. Absorption of photons releases energy in the form of heat and this heat warms the air. This why summers are hotter and winters are cooler. In fact, heat is nothing but a function of motion. When a surface absorbs energy its molecules start to vibrate and this generates heat. Thus when solar energy strikes the surface it causes the molecules to vibrate releasing heat energy. These are some of the basic aspects of solar energy that you must be aware of. Understanding these concepts will aid you in understanding how solar power equipment works.
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