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Most Efficient Solar Panels

Julia Said:

What is the most efficient way to harvest solar energy?

We Answered:

Aside from buying more efficient cells (which cost a lot more than standard cells) or putting tracking motors on your solar panels (and have the panels rotate during the day which would actually be surprisingly easy to do) there isn't really going to be much you can do.

You could use the sun for water heating directly as others have suggested but that's about all you can do with your home.

A solar thermal could have higher efficiency if you can get the temperature up high enough but those are for big power stations.

I think it would also be wise to look at where the electricity where you live comes from to see if you really need to use solar power because if you've already got a grid connection it may be cheaper to just use it all the time (and if you're not going to have batteries you'll end up using it when the sun don't shine) and if you're doing it for environmental reasons I think that you should know how much you're helping.

I did manage to find out that in the state you're looking at it's mostly fossil fuels so you will help out quite a bit (even if you don't get batteries the baseload you'll use when the sun isn't shining will have a higher proportion of nuclear than in the day time when the gas plants are operating so the power you use then might be better).

Rafael Said:

How many solar panels do we need to power the US?

We Answered:

Annual power consumption in the US is approximately 1.2*10^15 Watt-hours. The average solar panel can generate 80W continuously. We can break up the calculation into parts:

1.2*10^15 Watt-hours per year
9125 hours per year
1.31*10^11 continuous watts
80W per panel
1643835616 panels
1000 sq. inches average solar panel area

650 million square miles (!!!)


To give you a better idea, the total surfacre area of the United States of America is 3 million square miles. The surface of the earth is 196 million square miles. Not even 3 planets full of solar panels would be enough. Maybe it is easier for people to start using electricity more responsibly?

Thomas Said:

What is the ebergy produced by the most efficient electrical solar panels?

We Answered:

The sun does indeed produce between 1200 and 1400 W/m2 at our orbit - if you are standing perpendicular to it and outside the atmosphere.

Here on the ground you do rather worse. First you have to compensate for your latitude and the angle to the ecliptic (ie the energy per sq m changes through the year). At 45 N you can recon on averaging half that per sq m over the year.

Then you have to allow for atmoshperic loss.

So you are nearer to around 800 W per sq m. When its sunny. In the day.

Then multiply by the cell efficiency - typicall 20% or so. You get about 150W to 200W per sq m. About enough to power a light. Provided its day (when you don't need one).

Irma Said:

What is the most efficient angle at which to set non adjustable solar panels in Prescott, AZ?

We Answered:

Try asking at the Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/index.ph… - those guys are in Flagstaff.

The simple answer lacking other information is "tilted south at latitude". Your latitude is about 34.5, so you would tilt the panels at 34.5 degrees off the vertical.

There are other adjustments you would make depending on whether you wanted maximum energy averaged over a year, or consistent energy year-round. There would also be adjustments based on local climate. If it's going to rain all winter, better to cut your losses and optimize for summer. You might also point the panels at other than due south, to take advantage of best air temperatures during the day. Only a local installer would have the empirical information to make such adjustments. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone from Prescott will be on the forum.

Rosemary Said:

what is the most Efficient Solar Panels?

We Answered:

Hey Matthew, at present, Sanyo is boasting the highest efficiency from a solar module, or panel. Their new model HIT-N230 is advertised to capture just over 20% from the incoming sun and convert it to electricity. That may not sound great, and for many reasons, it isn't, I'll explain. When you say efficiency, you are talking about a conversion rate. In a car, miles per gallon is king. Everyone knows they need to drive X miles, they want to do it with the least gas. In a solar panel, it means converting the most sun to electricity in a given space, but for most solar users, this is of no importance. Our home is completely powered by the wind and sun, we have 11 year old Kyocera KC-120 modules, that are about 11% efficient. Yet the entire array takes up less space than the tiny roof on our carport, and when the sun is out, it runs everything on the property and recharges the battery. The nice thing about off the shelf products like this is the cost. You can buy similar modules to ours for around $300 USD. While a Sanyo HIT module can make the same power in less space, it will cost you almost twice as much per watt for the high tech device, so in the end, both our arrays will put out the same 1.4 KW, but mine will cost half as much. This is why people in the know are not concerned about efficiency. Unless you are trying to power the space station, or an RV completely by solar, better to use a little more space and save a ton of money.

In time, these panels will come down in price, as newer even more efficient ones come out, but you could be powering your home already for even less money if you want, you just have to decide what is important. Good luck Matthew, and take care, Rudydoo

Kay Said:

where are solar panels the most efficient? where do they belong?

We Answered:

Any place you get direct sunlight. Germany isn't known for having sunshine but they have managed to get a great benefit from solar panels. Basically the closer to the equator the more hours of sunlight you will get so the more energy you will produce.

I have panels on my home and even on the shortest days of the winter I was generating about 50% of my power. I've only had one really bad day, it was cloudy and rainy all day so no sunshine, but I still made 2 khw of energy.

Gary Said:

What is the most efficient solar panel?

We Answered:

Of the panels that consumers can readily buy, there is really only one kind that most people get, and that is the crystalline silicon panel. Although the efficiency in watts per incoming light intensity varies a bit, all of these panels are roughly in the same range. Therefore, most people buy based on cost per watt, not efficiency. Since a roof typically has much more area than is needed for a solar array, who cares if the panels are 10-20% bigger, if they're cheaper and deliver the same power?

You can get good advice from the solar forum here http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/index.ph… , and shop the web for the best panels for yourself.

p.s. I'd avoid amorphous silicon panels. They may be cheap, but they'll go bad or seriously degrade in just a few years.

p.p.s. I'd also avoid internet guides that claim you can make your own panels very cheaply, if you'll just pay them $$ for the information. Those guides don't live up to their advertising.

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