Why do we need solar power?

Today, people rely on sources of external energy for the manufacturing of goods and the delivery of services. This energy allows us to live in diverse climates, in large populations, and often in controlled environments. The level of dependence on those sources varies according to the climate, level of comfort, and general needs of a community.  Energy is expensive to acquire, yet easy to waste.   To date, the greatest sources of energy have been fossil fuels, of which the three most commonly used are: coal, petroleum and natural gas. Unfortunately, the combustion of fossil fuels releases pollution into the atmosphere.  Fossil fuels are also non-renewable. Its availability will decline.

Conversely, comfort can also be achieved with lower energy consumption through an  energy efficient approach. Well planned energy use balances human comfort with reasonable energy consumption levels by allowing for the development and implementation of effective ways to create and utilize energy.

Solar energy is both a renewable and clean source of energy, which improves our environment and protects our earth from pollution.  Solar power harnesses the usable energy from the sun’s light for heating, electricity generation, and desalination of seawater.  The 89 petawatts of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface far exceeds the 15 terawatts of average power consumed by humans. Solar electric generation has the highest power density among all renewable energy sources,  is pollution free, needs little or no maintenance after initial set-up, and is increasingly economically competitive.

How does solar power work?

Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells, are panels that use the PV effect of semiconductors to produce electricity directly from sunlight. Historically the use of solar cells has been limited due to expensive manufacturing costs and relatively low solar cell efficiency. More recently, advances in research and scale of production have both reduced costs and increased efficiency, allowing for varied and innovative applications.

Photovoltaic cells generate electrical energy from sunlight and are typically used at the  small to medium scale.  Presently, larger arrays of solar modules are being used for pure electricity generation feeding into the power grid. Up to 20% of solar energy available at the earth’s surface can be captured by these cells. Most cells are made of silicon which act as a semiconductor, absorbing some of the light and then converting it. Unlike pure silicon, where negatively charged particles are locked in the structure and cannot move, silicon in a solar cell, which is a combination of p type and n type, has a deliberate addition of impurities so that the electrons, are free to move and carry electricity. When light hits the solar cell, the electrons move, creating an electric current that can be drawn off and used as electricity.

How do I select a portable solar generator ?

The first item to determine when purchasing a portable solar generator is total power consumption (or power wattage) of the electrical appliances, electronics, etc. that you wish to power.  This will determine the selection of the appropriate system.

The second item to consider are the dimensions of the system.  Portable solar generators range from sizes of a few inches to over 20 feet.  Small solar generators are limited in the amount of power provided.  For example, small low power solar generators can be used to power laptops, mobile phones, lamps, portable radios, portable TVs, fans, and other small appliances.  Most small to medium solar generators are able to generate AC voltages found in your home (110/120 VAC) and DC voltages found in your car (12 VDC).

Where can portable solar generators be used?

Portable solar generators can be used for a variety of locations including in remote areas, while traveling, camping, boating, in an RV, or at the beach.  Also, these portable solar generators can be used during and after natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and snow/ice storms.  In areas where it is not practical to construct power distribution lines or to use gasoline powered generators,  portable solar generators can provide a robust and economic solution.



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