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The Principles of Solar Energy

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Light, power, and warmth from the sun

The sun is essentially a vast nuclear reactor floating about in space. Atoms in the sun’s mass are converted into photons, or particles of light energy, by the sun’s atomic reaction forces. Light and heat from these photons make it from space to Earth.

The sun sends us energy from UV to infrared across the electromagnetic spectrum. About 35,000 times more energy is delivered by sunlight to Earth’s surface than is utilized by all humankind. The ability to generate power comes from the interaction of solar radiation with various materials.

Using the Energy of the Sun

Sunlight’s four most fundamental interactions with matter are:

A photon’s energy can be absorbed by a substance and converted into another form.
Energy is transmitted by moving across a medium without altering its shape or diminishing intensity.
The energy disperses, or scatters, into various wavelengths, each of which has unique characteristics and travels in a different direction. Most people associate scattering with rainbows.
Energy is reflected when its direction is altered, but its characteristics remain unchanged. Reflectors, such as mirrors, are used to do just that.
The proportions of these qualities vary from one substance to the next. Glass windows treated with iron silicon, for instance, transmit light and retain heat. However, the glass used in trendy sunglasses transmits the most visible light while reflecting or blocking ultraviolet rays.
When a photon collides with an absorber, its energy is converted to thermal energy. Heat is just the motion of molecules at high speed. As their velocity increases, so does the temperature of the substance.

For example, boiling water is simply liquid whose electrons have become so stimulated by energy transfer from the burner that they flow erratically. Your skin gets burned when exposed to heat because it can’t handle the sudden influx of energy.

The sun’s thermal energy can be harnessed, but only after it is converted and transported to its point of application. Heat can be transferred in three ways:

The molecules themselves don’t move; only the heat energy transfers from one to another. When one surface is hotter than another, heat travels to the cooler one.
Convection transfers thermal energy from a stationary to a nearby liquid medium. The moving molecules of the fluid carry the heat energy, a process known as convection. Hotter molecules in a liquid rise due to the power of the heat source, whereas cooler ones sink due to the force of gravity.
The sun is the most enormous and most potent fireball in the universe, and as such, it emits the most infrared radiation.

Converting as much solar radiation as possible into usable form is the primary goal of a solar energy system. It’s essential that your collecting method can:
To maximize solar energy conversion into heat, you should make the surface of your heat transfer devices as dark as possible.

Put the gathered heat energy into a more usable medium; the liquid is the quickest and easiest heat transfer medium. If you run water through a black metal pipe, the water will absorb the heat from the line and be heated to the same temperature as the surrounding surface. When you turn on a tea kettle, heat travels from the stovetop to the pan and eventually into the water.
You can spend all day heating something, but it will be for naught if the chilly air can transmit that heat straight back out of your medium. The atmosphere retains heat within a closed home, but the temperature drops significantly if the windows are opened.

The medium must have a high heat capacity to store adequate heat. That’s why it’s important to utilize materials with a physical structure that can keep the energy you inject into them. The physical properties and the capacity to store the power of various materials vary greatly.
The table below provides a quick comparison of the heat storage capabilities of some common materials.
Content / Energy Released per Cubic Foot

Materials: Air.02, Plastic.6, Fabric 2, Stone 25, Timber 27, Steel 59, Water 62, Copper 78.

Water and copper are the finest substances for both storing and conducting heat. Since water is so transparent, it doesn’t soak up any of the sun’s heat. However, it is capable of storing and retaining heat that has been transmitted to it from another collector material. Blackened copper is the standard material for solar heat collectors.

Light from the Sun Is Converted Into Energy by Photovoltaic Cells

The semiconductor sandwich that makes up photovoltaic (PV) cells consists of two highly pure silicon layers (positive and negative). The transistor is the most ubiquitous type of semiconductor and may be found in virtually any modern electronic device.

Connecting an electric load like a lightbulb to your PV cell completes the circuit and allows power to flow.

Some electrons in the negatively charged N layer of silicon are knocked loose by the incoming solar photons, leaving vacancies behind. If the electrons are near enough, they can overcome the barrier and attempt to fill the holes in the atoms of the P (positive) layer.

Because of the resulting electrical imbalance, electrons are compelled to go along the circuit, where they will eventually ignite your bulb. The photons from the sun have caused this electrical current by reacting with the materials in your PV cell.

PV arrays are just a large number of interconnected cells. To prevent shocks, transform DC power into AC (used by most households and appliances), and store excess energy until it is needed, a solar array system contains a wide variety of components.

All solar power systems may be boiled down to effectively capture the energy electrons release as they hop from one substance to another after being stimulated by photons.

Ain’t science great? 🙂

HomePowerCheap.com is a gold mine of information for anyone considering installing solar panels on their property.

Renewable energy is a frequent topic for Erick Mcguire’s writings. He believes this post is helpful and advises you to make full use of the materials available to you at

Read also: Exactly Why And How To Install A Performance Wintry Air Intake.