Archive | November 2015

Finding Green Solutions For Your Home

Renewable energy sources can now be utilized in the home, and not only will they help the environment, but they will also help to reduce energy bills. Solar power and biomass heating are two examples of renewable energy sources being used in the home, but there are also other ways of helping the environment, and reducing energy bills, too.

Solar Power

Solar power relies on solar cells, which are long-lasting. Because just a single solar cell can be installed on a roof this makes the energy source affordable to homeowners. By being placed on an existing roof of a home or business the installation of solar cells won’t require any additional space either. A non-polluting energy source, solar power is also silent.

Biomass Heating

Biomass heating is not only beneficial to the environment, but, by being energy efficient, it will help to bring down fuel bills. Biomass fuel also has a reputation for reliability, with biomass boilers notable for their efficiency in providing a home with heat and hot water.

The environmental benefits of using biomass heating is down to what is used to make it functional. This will typically be residue from forests and woodland, or from agriculture and industry, which means that, through being existing material, the carbon cycle is not affected. Consequently, biomass fuel doesn’t have the same impact on the environment as fossil fuels. Biomass is also an ancient form of renewable energy, as wood would have been used as the most common fuel for fires in the Stone Age.

Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

The installation of energy efficient light bulbs is the easiest way that energy can be reduced in a home or business. If every room has energy efficient bulbs the savings will stack up over the course of a year.

Unnecessary Heating

Having heating on higher than necessary during mild weather is one example of how homeowners and businesses can miss out on saving on energy costs. Though sometimes easy to forget, when the weather is milder heating should be adjusted accordingly. Energy can also be wasted by being on in bedrooms rarely used, for instance.

Drying Clothes

When radiators are on they can be used as a way of drying clothes. In the winter months this can help to reduce the use of a tumble dryer.

Saving Hot Water

Monitoring an immersion heater will help to eliminate the chances of hot water being wasted. When there’s hot waterFree Reprint Articles, but nobody is using it then that’s an obvious waste of energy.

An Easy to Understand Explanation of How Solar Panels Work

Solar energy is getting a lot of attention these days. Its time to answer the question: how do they actually work? It is not obvious how a panel can convert the sun’s rays into electricity without moving parts. This article will help explain the process in terms that hopefully anyone can understand.

The most basic definition of how solar panels work is that the sun strikes a certain material, it excites electrons and creates a current and voltage that can be used to power devices. Now let’s delve a little deeper.

Silicon: Not Just for Computer Chips

First, silicon is taken from the earth. Silicon is one of the earth’s most abundant elements. It’s found in sand and rocks of all types. You’ve probably heard of ‘Silicon Valley’, the hotbed of technology research and investment in California. It is so called because silicon is used in computer chips.

Silicon is a semi-conductor. Think of copper, a conductor, as in copper wires. Now think of rubber, an insulator, such as the coating on a copper wire. Silicon falls somewhere in between and is therefore called a semi-conductor. This property is exploited in computer chips and solar panels to handle tiny reactions that generate electrical currents. An electrical current is basically a “flow”. Picture a wire as a tiny pipe and the current as the rate at which the “water” (in this case electricity) flows through the pipe.

Just Add Boron and Phosphorous

But silicon by itself is not enough to create power from the sun. The silicon is grown into a very thin crystal-like wafer using pressure and heat. It is then coated with two different materials: boron and phosphorous. Boron is coated on one side, phosphorous on the other, with a gap in between the two layers. Boron, when combined with silicon, is a positive material, but it wants to be neutral. The only way it can get neutral is to gain an electron, which has a negative charge.

Now enter phosphorous. Phosphorous and silicon is a negatively charged material, meaning it has extra electrons. But it wants to be neutral too! And how can it do that? By getting rid of electrons of course! And how will it get rid of them? That’s where the good old sun comes in.

Here Comes The Sun

When sunlight strikes the cell, it gets those electrons all excited. Just think of the electron as a kid in his mom’s arms as they approach the park. He just can’t wait to get away from mom and onto the swing set. The electrons leave the phosphorous and go toward the positive boron, creating an electrical pressure as they enter the gap. This pressure must be released, and is through the wiring in the cell. This creates the flow, or current, we talked about earlier.

The cells are coated with materials to ensure the sunlight is absorbed and not reflected. The silicon wafers are wired together and encased in tempered glass and aluminum to prevent weather damage. These are called panels, and are then wired together to form an array. And that is the basic building block reaction of a solar panel!

The Concept Behind Solar Panels

Solar panels are devices made to convert solar energy into either electricity or heat. While most think of it as new technology, the basic concept has already been in use since around a hundred years ago to heat water in homes. Declared by many as one of the alternatives to oil and coal power with the most potential, the use of solar panels has been steadily gaining ground as the technology advances further.The origins of solar panels date way back to the early 1839 when French physicist Antoine Cesar Bequerel came across the correlation of light and electricity through the photovoltaic effect in an experiment with an electrolytic cell made of two metal electrodes in an electrolyte solution. He observed that output increased when the cell was exposed to light.Around forty-four years later, the first genuine solar panel was created by Charles Fritts. His invention was made by sheets of selenium coated with a thin layer of gold.From then on up to mid-20th century, many experimented with the idea of solar energy. During this time, a Baltimore inventor by the name of Clarence Kemp patented the first commercial solar water heater. Also, Albert Einstein wrote and published a thesis on the photoelectric effect and received a Nobel Prize in Physics for his research years later. Another contribution was made by a Carnegie Steel Company employee named William Baily who invented the very first solar collector by putting copper coils in an insulated box.Later on, while working for Bell Laboratories, American inventor Russell Ohl patented the first proper silicon solar cell in 1941. With this innovation, Bell Laboratories went on to produce the very first crystalline silicon solar panel thirteen years later. The original mass-production model’s design had 4% efficiency in energy conversion. The technology was continually improved over the years, leading to solar panels with at least 6% efficiency.The technology went on to be used for space missions. Space satellites were one of the first things to use solar panels in practice. By this time, the US had already started to produce solar panels with 20% efficiency. Nowadays, Spectrolab and Emcore Photovoltaics lead the world in solar cell production, producing panels with 28% efficiency.Most solar panels are made out of pure silicon, which is a semi-conductor that is ideal for channeling energy. With impurities and foreign substances removed, the silicon serves as the ideal neutral platform for transmitting electrons. As silicon’s natural state holds four electrons, it is to be understood that according to modern chemistry that it can handle four more. Once a silicon atom combines with another, they will share their electrons to form a stable molecule containing eight valence electrons and giving it a neutral charge. This concept is the basis for modern solar panels.As an alternative source of energy, solar panels have pros and cons that come along with its implementation worldwide. It is clean and can be used at any place where there is adequate sunlight. However, that is also its drawback as you will need sunlight for it to create electricity. Also, it is still expensive as the technology as an independent power source has yet to become within reach of mainstream.However it may be; solar panels, along with other alternatives as wind turbines, hydrogen fuel cells, and so on, do have the potential to replace conventional fossil fuels as the main source of energy. As long as research and interest on the technology remains present, it is possible!