Solar panels are one of the best renewable energy sources simply because the sun is a non-expendable source of energy that we can effectively harness. Solar panels are changing the way they produce energy, and they are only becoming more prominent and more efficient year after year.
In this guide, we will discuss what exactly solar energy is, how solar panels harness it to produce energy and what makes a panel efficient. We will even offer some cool recommendations for great solar panels for use either at home as an emergency power supply, or out and about camping in the great outdoors.
What is Solar Energy?
The sun is a fantastic source of energy. It can generate tremendous amounts of light and heat via radiation. Since the sun is so far away from us and the earth is so big, the heat and light caused by said radiation are perfect for us to harness and convert into electricity through the use of solar panels.
There are two types of solar panels, and they perform very different tasks. First, we have photovoltaic solar panels. These harnesses the photons traveling to earth from the sun and convert them into electrons.
Conversely, thermal collectors harness and absorb the radiated energy and heat produced by the sun and convert that into power. Thermal collectors are often used for solar hot water heating. This means that only heat is harnessed as a byproduct, and it normally requires some extra steps if you want to convert that heat into electricity. Occasionally, solar arrays use a vast amount of thermal collectors to heat enough water to generate electricity, but this is beyond the norm.
How Does a Solar Panel Produce Energy?
When it comes to solar panels, not solar collectors, the way they produce energy to create electricity is pretty neat. Sunlight shines onto the photovoltaic solar panel and is absorbed into the cells.
Once in the cells, these photons are combined with pre-existing electrons and then those electrons become charged. Once charged, they are free to "move around", and flow through the cable or battery as an electric current. Since the electrons already exist in a metal conductor in the solar panel, the only external factor to producing energy is sunlight, unlike thermal collectors, which require water.
So, why does a solar panel produce so much energy? While the weather varies - it can be cloudy or rainy - there is still sufficient sunlight to absorb and harness during the day to convert to energy. That's why solar panels are capable of generating power regardless of the weather, making them perfect for outdoor activities like camping. Almost all solar panels are connected to some kind of battery storage system to combat the varied weather conditions and their subsequent effect on energy production.
Imagine you have several solar panels at home. One day it is sunny and for the next three days, it is completely grey and overcast. Solar panels store excess electricity from sunny days and use it on overcast days. This is a big advantage that solar panels have over traditional forms of energy generation like coal and natural gas.
Solar panels are also much cleaner than traditional forms of energy generation. They do not produce any carbon emissions or other pollutants. This is very important in the fight against climate change.
Solar panels are a great way to generate renewable energy. They are clean, efficient, and can be used to power your home or business.
Solar Panel Energy Transformation
Here is a step-by-step guide on how solar panels convert solar energy to electricity:
- Sunlight hits the solar panel and activates the photovoltaic cells.
- Semiconductors made with positively, and negatively charged cells form an electric field that becomes charged by the sunlight.
- The DC energy produced is transferred down a cable into a power inverter which converts it from DC (which is useless to us) to AC.
- The AC electricity is stored in a battery until it is needed. This battery is not the same as your regular TV remote battery. It's a large battery that can store enough electricity to power your home for several days.
- The electricity is then sent through your home's wiring to outlets and devices that use it.
How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?
Solar panels produce varying amounts of energy depending on how many photovoltaic cells it contains, the weather, and how old they are. Normally, a standard residential solar panel will produce a few hundred watts per hour up to about 400 (on a clear and sunny day).
High-quality portable solar panels like the Jackery SolarSaga 100W can produce 100w per hour, which is more than enough for your everyday use when you are hiking or camping! This solar panel is best paired with Jackery Explorer 1000. It only takes 8 hours to fully charge a Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station using 2 SolarSaga 100. It's also compatible with other Jackery Power Stations.
Jackery Explorer 1000 comes with a carrying bag for easy transport. The solar panel has magnetic pads that allow it to be folded tightly and carried during off-grid journeys.
Solar Panel Energy Efficiency
Solar panel energy efficiency is the ratio of the solar panel's power output to the amount of sunlight that hits the panel. It is usually expressed as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the more efficiently the solar panel converts sunlight into electricity.
The average efficiency of solar panels on the market today is approximately 15-20%. If the panel is 1.6 square meters in size, then it should easily produce 320 watts.
However, there are a few solar panels on the market that have efficiencies above 20%. The Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel has an efficiency of 23%, making it one of the most efficient solar panels available and producing more power under similar conditions and it is ideal for RV camping, off-grid road trip, and unexpected power outages.
Solar panels are a great way to generate renewable energy. They are clean, efficient, and can be used to power your home or business. With solar panels, you can save money on your electricity bill and help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.
If you are looking for an environmentally friendly way to power your home or RV, then solar panels are a great option for you. They are easy to set up and maintain and can provide clean, renewable energy for years.
Subscribe to Jackery's newsletter to receive the latest news, deals, and product releases!