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Thin Film Solar Panels

Jennifer Said:

What is the lifespan of a portable solar charger?

We Answered:

Portable chargers are usually pretty useless because they don't have enough output to do anything. You can count on getting about 2/3 the power they claim to put out. You'll nedd at least a 20 watt array to get even a slow charge.
As for the lifespan, solar cells tend to degrade from how long they spend in the sun, not how old they are. So, a charger that was only in the sun occasionaly would last for decades.
You also need to have one with a controller. A 12 volt array can get up to 19 volts in an unregulated setup when you're not drawing current from it, and that could fry a 12 volt computer.

Lillian Said:

What is the next revolution in solar cells?

We Answered:

They have recently come up with a way to turn radiation directly into electricity. Current cells must use photons only, the new ones will work with any type of radiation. Also, current radiation power sources utilize the heat to boil water to turn a wheel to make electricity. When it is perfected and mass produced it will save a lot of energy loss and be able to make electrical energy from just about any radioactive source.

Ronnie Said:

What is the most successful solar company to date?

We Answered:

Not a very good question, because most manufacturers are diversified. There are also many successful companies that have emerged that you do not hear about because their technologies are peripheral.

How do you compare Honda, Toshiba and Powerfilm-Solar? They all make panels. It is akin to comparing apples to oranges.

As for the components in the solar control systems- many today were either owned by someone else last year, or were bought out- their product line names remain. A company named Siliconix that started out in 1980 making MOSFET devices- crucial to many of the alternative energy systems today- since that time of 1980, it has been bought and sold by at least a half dozen other companies, and now is a small subsidiary of a company named Vishay, and the name Siliconix now belongs to a chemical company. There has been considerable change of ownerships through buy outs and mergers in just the past 18 months. Yet my electronics catalog no longer fits my PO box, where it did 18 months ago.

And they all have products for sale, many are rebranded with some other company's name on it. How do you compare it then?

Martha Said:

what's the difference between different types of solar panels.?

We Answered:

Single crystal silicon solar cells have been the most widely used. They are also the most expensive form of solar cell and are largely responsible for solar energy's reputation as costly.

Polycrystalline solar cells are cheaper than single crystal silicon solar cells but not as effective in energy conversion.

Thin film technology has the distinct advantage of being easier to mass produce than crystal cell technology. It costs less, though its durability is questionable. Thin film is also less efficient than crystal silicon, according to most sources.

Single crystal and polycrystalline cells can each last several generations while thin film is newer technology - less costly but also less durable.

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