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Solar Solar Panels

Angela Said:

where can i get a catalog on solar panels?

We Answered:

Backwoods home answer is a great one but you could also check solar today and homepower magazines both often rate pv systems and cells.

John Said:

What direction should solar panels face if built in the Southern Hemisphere?

We Answered:

I have mine facing North. They work fine. I'm at 38deg South.

Misty Said:

Do I only need solar panels to have energy in day and through the night?

We Answered:

Most of the other answers are correct but not comprehensive.

Solar panels produce electrical energy or heat energy but do not store either type of energy.

Solar heat energy can be used in residential systems for hot water and space heating (also keeping a pool hot). Whether passive or active systems, you need some sort of "thermal storage" usually a big insulated vat of water that heats up when it is sunny and cools down as you use the heat. It is not economical to produce electricity from this energy in residential systems. (btw passive systems should be designed into the house when built and essentially the entire house is designed to collect solar energy and be the thermal storage system -- passive systems are almost impossible to retrofit into existing houses)

Solar panels made up of "photovoltaic cells" (PV) produce electricity directly. However, the electricity produced is a direct current (or DC current) like common household batteries or automobile batteries. Not in an "alternating current" or AC like normal household current. So it must be converted to AC to run most common systems. However, if you are going to use only solar energy it may be cost effective to switch to 12 volt DC lighting ...and other systems to save on some of the complexity because any time you begin running systems like DC to AC converters or rectifiers you loose energy.

To store solar made electricity you can use batteries.. like "wet cell" automobile batteries (or more likely deep cycle marine batteries which are designed for long slow discharges)...

Alternatively, as one other person suggested you can "sell" the power to the power company and buy it back at night. One issue is that typically you sell it to the power company for a cheap rate and buy it back at a more expensive rate... so be sure to include the actual rates in your estimates of cost. This type of system also has a safety backup.. you can always buy power from the electrical company if it rains for days and you cannot produce the power yourself.

Hope this helps

Bradley Said:

Is it possible to have solar panels in space?

We Answered:

Yes its very possible to use solar panels in space, when you mentioned Tesla I think your talking about wireless energy transfer. Yes this method does work however to transmit energy from a solar panel orbiting the earth back to the earth its not very practical. The loss in energy in the transfer would be too great.

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