Panels on Homes and Other Buildings
Solar panels for buildings are no different from other panels. They must be able to receive enough sunlight to be useful. Often, they are put on a roof that faces the Sun and is not shaded. Sometimes they are simply built on the ground. Solar panels come in various colors and designs. They may be put on a wall or roof and blend right in, so you don’t even notice them. Roof shingles and tiles can be made using thin-film panels.
Usually solar panels and a few wires cannot by themselves supply electricity to a building. More equipment is needed. Solar cells make DC electricity. This is fine for some electronic devices. But home appliances and lights usually run on AC. Houses are generally wired for AC. To change the DC to AC, a device called an inverter is needed.
Also, if the building is not connected to the public power grid, there has to be some way of storing electricity for use when it is too dark for the solar panels to work. Usually, the solar battery is used to store the electricity. Batteries can be helpful even in buildings that are connected to the grid. They can serve as a backup if the grid suffers a power loss.
More Solar Products
People keep coming up with new ideas for solar energy. They dream up new designs for solar cells. They think of new materials for cells. The new kinds of solar cells that result make possible new ways of using solar energy. Lots of ideas for solar generator have been talked about in recent years. Some of them have begun to appear on the market. Others are still experimental.
Ideas for the Future
Thin-film solar cells can be put into cloth. The larger the area of the solar cells, the more current they can make. If they were used in curtains, thin-film solar cells could provide a very useful amount of electricity.
Many people think devices called hydrogen fuel cells might someday be very good sources of power for many purposes. They use hydrogen to make electricity. Hydrogen is very common. It is in water, for instance. Getting the hydrogen out of water, however, takes energy. If the solar generator with solar panels get cheap enough and efficient enough, they might become a practical way of providing this energy.
Ways of getting lots of sunlight to solar cells are being studied. One proposed concentrator could be used on windows. It involves putting special dyes into glass or plastic. Solar cells are put at the edges of the sheet of glass or plastic. The dyes let some light through the window. They also capture some light energy, which flows to the cells.