Tag Archives: solar energy

Transparent Photovoltaic Solar Cells: The Future of Solar?

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In the earlier days of solar energy, companies used silicon solar cells to convert the photons of sunlight into electricity. However, the use of silicon solar cells had several drawbacks. Today, high-quality solar energy panels are often made with the use of organic photovoltaic cells. These cells are a huge step in revolutionizing the solar power industry, and this is why.

Increased Visual Appeal

One reason that homeowners often overlook solar energy despite its many benefits is that they associate solar energy systems with bulky equipment and unattractive panels. With the use of transparent photovoltaic cells, however, this unattractive appearance of solar energy panels will become a thing of the past. It is expected that this new technology will make windows that generate energy as sun shines into your home a reality very soon.

Increased Efficiency

In 2013, the University of California in Los Angeles managed to create a new type of transparent solar film- one that uses two separate layers of transparent photovoltaic film. This will revolutionize the use of solar energy because it increases efficiency by an impressive 7.3%. These double-layer photovoltaic cells are also believed to provide twice the capacity for harvesting energy than the cells that were developed in the year 2012. While a single-layered cell can collect 40% of infrared light, this newer development collects 80%.

Decreased Costs

The conventional silicon solar technology is also much more costly than the new solar energy options that are becoming available as the result of photovoltaic cells. Organic photovoltaic solar cells are made from a combination of polymers, which are inexpensive plastic materials. This can be manufactured as a liquid form and then rolled, or sprayed onto solar panel material. The easier application and cheap manufacturing of these types of solar cells make it a much more affordable and practical solution, especially for residential customers.

Pricing Stability

A huge disadvantage of silicon-based solar panels is that the cost fluctuates with the cost of silicon in the current market. Silicon is a material that is purchased from an open market, meaning that prices can fluctuate constantly For example, China shut down one-third of its polysilicon facilities in 2012 because the price of silicon dropped by 60%. This was quickly followed by a jump in the price of silicon because of a lower supply. The materials used to create organic photovoltaic cells, however, has a price that is significantly more stable.

Improved Availability in Colder, Cloudier Environments

A huge disadvantage of the tradition silicon-based solar energy systems is the need for sun rays at a 90 degree angle or greater before the panels can effectively generate electricity. Photovoltaic cells, on the other hand, can be painted/sprayed cheaply across large areas, increasing its ability to collect the sun’s rays. It can also be used in 3D applications. This technology uses the science that even on cloudy days, some sun rays will hit the earth. They are just hitting the earth at a lesser angle than is required for silicon applications. Photovoltaic solar applications, on the other hand, are able to catch the rays when they come in at these lesser angles and convert it into solar energy. This makes solar energy a possibility for more cloudy, colder environments.

Greater Range of Applications

The transparency that is provided by solar film made of photovoltaic cells also allows for a greater range of applications that traditional solar energy systems. The same institute in California responsible for the development of double-layered transparent cells studied its effectiveness in several environments. It is proven effective for use on smartphones, sun panels, windows, and more, all while maintaining its transparency.

This article was composed by Kassie Berger.  Kassie is currently studying Electrical Engineering at University of Colorado in Denver.  When Kassie isn’t nose deep in her physics and math books, she enjoys researching new innovations in the green tech industry and contributing this information to Ablaze Energy LLC.

Exciting New Advancements in Solar Technology

Solar House - wow
Studies to improve residential solar power are being carried out across the globe. These studies are done in a bid to improve the efficiency of solar energy systems. In the latest news, researchers have identified an inexpensive, new solid-state kind of light sensitive nanoparticle. It is called colloidal quantum dots and has the potential of leading to more flexible and less expensive solar cells when compared to what is currently available according to a recent study that was published in Nature Materials.Colloidal Quantum Dots
The colloidal quantum dots with a new particle that does not bind to air and maintains a stable pair of p- and n- type layers which boost light absorption and can offer new possibilities to advance infrared diodes, infrared laser and gas sensors, according to a University of Toronto release. Home panels that used the new hybrid p- and n- type material proved to be approximately 8% efficient at converting energy compared to the world’s most popular solar cells models. In addition to this, it is possible that this type of solar cell could become a ‘spray on’ solution that can absorb light and convert it to electricity.  This would even allow us to overcome the required rigid structure of the current solar panels that are used in residential settings, possibly allowing us to coat entire structures in this film in order to make them self sufficient!


Since most of the world’s attention is focused on the advancement of renewable energy sources, some of the greatest minds internationally have been critically studying current residnetial solar power systems. In the process they have managed to identify several points with potential improvement. For starters they are concentrating on improving materials to ensure solar cells in home solar panels are more efficient. Current advanced cells being used in the home are able to achieve efficiency levels that are higher than 40%. Obviously the majority of efficient cells are very expensive, but cheaper cells will also come along as new techniques are implemented and progress is made.
New Ideas


Similarly, new materials like perovskites are becoming more efficient at converting energy, even more affordable to manufacture and have the possibility of supplanting current silicon cells by absorbing particular wavelengths of light. The process makes it possible to ‘pile on’ sheets (semi-transparent) to augment the amount of energy being produced. Additionally, there are recent breakthroughs in rechargeable battery technology to keep in mind. The point is as research on solar energy improves the technology of existing solar energy systems, more home owners will start to see home solar system as not only a viable option for their energy needs, but also as a crucial option. In the long run, home solar panels will not be seen in a few homes, but almost in every home.
In addition to the new materials that are being explored as viable replacements for the current materials used to create solar power, new techniques using existing materials are also being persued.  With the current materials available, some firms are exploring the idea of multi-layered solar cells, which in effect, can gather more electricity per square inch than their counterparts.  This is due to the layering of the electronically charged materials, which allows for better absorbtion of solar radiation.  In addition to just multi-layered solar cells, it has been hypothosized that there could be such a thing as an ‘infinate layer module’ which could, theoretically, produce up to 68% efficiency at capturing the suns power.  Needless, to say, it will be interesting to see where things go in the near future, and how much electricity we can actually procure from the largest powerplant we hav access to – our Sun!
About the author:

This article was written by Rochelle Pentelute.  Rochelle is currently studying law in Denver, Colorado, but also helps her brother run the family owned business - Ablaze Energy.  Ablaze specializes in finding affordable, reliable solar solutions for residnets of California and New York, among other states.  Rochelle currently researches and conributes content for their blog and interesting articles across the web!

The Many Uses And Functions Of A TDS Meter

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A TDS meter of Total Dissolved Solids meter indicates the the total dissolved solids in a liquid sample. It does just as the name states. A TDS meter will give you the total concentration of dissolved solids in the sample of water being tested.

Just like many of the meters that are used to test samples of water, the TDS meter is ultimately, another tool used to test the total conductivity of the water sample. As the dissolved solids that are ionized such as minerals or salts in water can increase the conductivity of a sample, it is used to estimate the conductivity of the sample and gives the total dissolved solids from that estimate.

There are solids that do not significantly affect the conductivity of a sample of water  such as sugars and very small solid particles. Therefor a TDS meter will not include these solids in its reading of a sample of water.

The uses of a TDS meter

There are many uses of a TDS meter, both commercial and residential uses. You may even find that you should be using a TDS meter in some aspect of your life. Even if you have never used or even seen a TDS meter before.

Fish Tanks

The first use for a TDS meter is a very popular use. At least it is a very popular use among fish tank owners. Fish require a certain TDS or total dissolved solids that is similar to the natural environment to which that type of fish originally lived.

The specific requirement of TDS varies with different types of fish. Fresh water fish require a TDS of less than 400ppm or parts per million. Then some fresh water fish require even less than that. Meanwhile, salt water fish require a TDS of as low as 5000 ppm and as high as 50,000 ppm. This varies drastically from freshwater fish.

Many fish owners use a TDS meter to take readings of the water in their aquariums and make sure that the TDS or total dissolved solids is in the range that it should be to keep their fish alive and healthy.

Hydroponics

A TDS meter is very useful when it comes to hydroponics. It can measure the nutrient concentration of a hydroponic solution which can be an indication of health.

Pools and Spas

A TDS meter can be used to measure the total dissolved solids of both pools and spas. The lower the TDS, the better. A low TDS reading or lower parts per million (ppm), can help to reduce algae blooms, maintenance problems, and even skin irritation.

The TDS meter

There are many uses for a TDS meter both residential and commercial uses. There are also different levels of TDS meters as well. If you are looking to purchase a TDS meter for any of the uses indicated above, the best way to find a good meter is to go online. Search for TDS meters and you’ll find that there is a whole list of websites that manufacture and sell TDS meters.

Most Anticipated Green Upgrades of 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no arguing that green living is more of a revolution than fad, and in 2015 could be a banner year for solar energy and other green innovations. As younger and more eco-conservative consumers look to spend wisely, green living will become a bigger selling point among buyers. Consumers in their late 20s to mid-30s are old enough to remember the days of cheap fossil fuels from their youth. Even if they were not paying the bills or filling the tank, their early days would shape their need for cheap energy.

For all the relief the recent plunge in oil futures has given, these buyers also have a real understanding of how much of a squeeze the high costs of fossil fuels can put on them. For many, they were likely just starting out on their own in 07’- 08’ when the high cost of energy sent prices at the pump well over $4 per gallon in even the cheapest of areas. These same consumers were likely living in their very first (relatively small) apartment with gas bills hovering north of $200 a month in addition to $100 electric bills. For those with an entry level position and a salary to match, it felt like commuting to work and keeping warm was all they were getting for the money made at work. While they may have a little more money coming in now that they have established themselves in the workplace, that does not mean they want to revisit those insanely high energy bills.  This is where the innovations in solar energy appeal to the green living population. However, it is not only the young consumer interested in green living. The new tech advancements below are exciting all ages who are seeking out cleaner, cheaper, renewable energy solutions.

Perovskite Solar Panels

A new generation of solar panels made from a mineral called perovskite has the potential to convert solar energy into household electricity more cheaply than ever before. Super-thin, custom-colored panels attached to a building’s windows may become a “holy grail” for the green living population. Perovskite panels can both shade windows and at the same time produce electricity. They also can absorb more of the solar spectrum and convert it to usable energy for the home. This means that we will be able to convert energy from more than just direct sunlight.

Building Integrated Photovoltaics

BIPVs are thin-film solar panels built smoothly into building materials like roof shingles, curtain walls, facades, or windows. That is correct, you can spray solar panels onto your windows!  The global overproduction of solar panels means that installation is now taking up an increasingly large percentage of the total cost per watt of solar. BIPVs are an enticing alternative because they cut out many installation costs since they do not require racking and laborers do not necessarily need to be trained in solar installations.

Solar Powered Mobile Gadgets

Not to be forgotten are the countless other little devices in our lives that mean as much to us as the roof over our heads. Step inside your local coffee shop or airport, and you’ll see several patrons scurrying about to find an outlet to plug in their devices that were at full charge only hours ago. On your own, your devices are very insignificant to the power grid. Add up all our collective devices, and we contribute 10 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide.  Solar Focus’s new SolarKindle is a Kindle cover integrated with a thin solar panel. In only one hour of sunlight, the SolarKindle gathers enough charge to run your device for three days. You can read an entire novel on your next vacation without plugging in once. If you are into sharing your music or relaxing by the water with good tunes, Rukus Solar is a portable speaker system that streams music via Bluetooth. Fully charged in 6 hours, it can play music for eight more hours out of the sunlight. Companies are also working on portable charging stations that can charge phones and tablets using solar energy that should be released within a year.

Like nearly every year over the last couple decades, 2015 promises to be a year of numerous technological advances. Some will come and go while others will create some serious staying power thanks to their benefits. Solar power has been gaining traction over the last five years and may be set for it’s biggest year yet. With advances such as those above coupled with the volatility of the fossil fuel market, solar powered energy innovations could be what draws the most acclaim for home solutions and tech toys on the go.

 

About the author:

The writer, Brian Levesque, is a blogger who primarily discusses environmental and technology issues. He is enthusiastic about the growing solar sector and its potential for a better, greener future. For those in the Florida area looking for solar power of their own, he highly recommends Bob Heinmiller Solar Solutions for a solar panel installation. You can learn more about Brian on Google+.

The Value of Solar: How Much Energy Would be Saved if Even Half of Florida Installed Solar Panels?

Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction

If half of Florida installed solar panels, the amount of saved energy would surprise you! However, before we get into the math of how the savings come about, let’s get something important out of the way. Now, many people make the mistake of looking at solar panel installation from the angle of how much it costs. This is a big mistake because the whole essence of solar energy lies in cutting down the enormous amount of electrical energy consumed in households. The correct question should always read “how much energy would I save if I used solar” , and “what monetary rewards do I stand to gain if I switched to solar?”

Arguments on savings

Of course there are heated arguments out there on the exact savings, with some critics saying if savings as a result of solar were to be looked at strictly from a business sense, then one is better off putting their money in the stock market. However, the game changer rolls in when we all pause to think about why solar is important in the first place. The motivation for solar is ultimately the pursuit of clean energy, that means less pollution and reduced environmental damage. Investing in solar energy should never be compared to other forms of investment because the need for clean energy is increasingly becoming a matter of life and death. This is an enormous debate, perhaps for another day. However, this should spark some thinking that goes beyond the monetary benefits of solar panels.

Besides energy saving, other avenues through which more savings can be realized include waived fees, cash back, as well as expedited permits that will end up saving your time.

The Calculations

Let’s assume that the average Florida household consumes approximately 1KW per hour which is equivalent to 900 kWh every month. Let’s pick on an appliance like a fridge. Assuming it is energy efficient, it could consume up to 350 kWh per annum at a utility cost averaging $0.12/watt, which is below $50 in a year. A giant plasma TV, on the other hand, can consume as high as 700 kWh in a year, translating to approximately $100 annually. However, the energy consumed above plus the respective costs will most likely not be consistent. Sometimes you have visitors in your house, and the consumption will climb, same as the cost.

Now, assume you had installed a solar system with a capacity of 3kWh. Depending on the average amount of sunshine in your area, this 3kWh system can, on average, generate 450 kWh monthly. This is equivalent to about half of your electric bill per month. This implies that such a system alone can save you an amount of energy that is equal to 50% of your annual consumption. In monetary terms, if measured against the $100 bill, your installation will save you about $50 per month for the entire life of your Florida installed solar panel. Multiply these savings by half of the 6000,000 or so households in Florida and it is unbelievable how much energy can be saved!

Solar Panel Leasing as an Option

It is never a must that you purchase solar panels. You have the possibility of leasing them from a solar panel company. This will reduce the upfront installation cost, but the only thing leasing will not achieve for you is raising your home’s value.

Check Out Incentives

If you intend to install a solar panel in your Florida home, be sure to check out for more incentives from government bodies. Do the same with solar companies who are offering attractive incentives for every client who commits to a solar panel installation. There are already some areas that encourage homeowners who have installed huge solar panels to sell any extra energy to power companies in their local areas. This can be a fantastic source of additional income for those who are rarely able to be at home and are sick of paying for energy they do not use.

Why This is the Best Time to Install Solar Panels in Florida

The idea of solar power installation is a tremendous initiative that is being pushed by both the Florida government, national government, and big corporations.

Finally, you can rest assured that the decision to install a solar panel in your home is a step in the right direction. It will save you almost half the energy you use annually and let you enjoy hundreds of dollars of savings. Look at solar as a foundation for a gradual reduction in the energy you consume that will eventually see your bills grind to extremely low figures. Moreover, as you save on energy, never forget the fact that you are protecting the environment and ultimately keeping it fresh for yourself and your children’s children. Once you’re ready to commit to this investment in our future, you can head on over to http://www.bobheinmillersolar.com to learn how you can set up a solar installation today.

Sources:

http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/florida/

http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/money-nerd/green-living/save-money-putting-solar-panels-roof/