Solar Cells

Solar / photovoltaic / PV cells come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the power source of your portable calculator to the power source of a satellite which can be longer than a football field. Photovoltaic cells, as the name implies (photo = light, voltaic = electricity) converts sunlight directly into electricity using semiconductor technology. Once used almost exclusively in space, photovoltaics are used more and more in less exotic ways, even to power road signs.

As the number solar cell application has increased, the prices have decreased. There are often no alternatives to using Solar Power when an electricity source is required yet the laying of high voltage cable may not be viable. Residential use of solar cells has increased exponentially in the past 10 year with the introduction of solar lighting and the awareness of climate change. Home owner are turning to solar cells to supplement their house hold power needs and in the process, reducing their carbon foot print and global warming.

Solar cell

The electricity generated by solar cells can be stored when not required during generation. An excellent example of this is solar lighting where the sun shines on the solar cell during the day and the electricity generated is stored in a battery. Then, as the sun sets, a sensor detects the reduction in ambient light and turns on the solar light which is run from the battery charged by the sun. The following morning as the sun rises, the solar light switches off and the solar cell starts to generate electricity again charging the battery.

Solar cells for production of house hold electricity can be purchased or build at home using a few simple tools. The cost of a self built solar cell is about 1/3 of a cell purchased from a retailer.