Solar Electronics

By Dr. S. S. VERMA; Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148 106

Solar energy

Fig. Solar panels
Fig. Solar panels

Environmental consideration due to growing energy demand is compelling people towards the increasing use of renewable sources of energy in general and solar energy in particular. Using sunlight to generate electricity is a clean and affordable alternative to traditional energy resources like coal, petroleum, natural gas, and other types of fossil fuels. Solar energy is a popular resource for alternative energy. Solar energy was first used to power satellites in the 1950s. Efficient, modern-day solar cells came about in the early 1950s. The first satellite powered by solar cells was deployed in 1958. In the mid-1970s, solar cells started being used for earth-based industrial applications like telecommunications, navigational aids, and microwave, TV, and radio repeater stations. Solar cells were first used to power urban-based devices in themid-1980s. These applications included roadside emergency telephones and traffic signs. As the cost of the technology continues to go down, and the cost of fossil fuels continues to rise, solar cells are fast becoming an affordable alternative energy resource for businesses and homes

Solar cells typically come in the form of a thin semiconductor wafer. They are specially treated by a process called “doping” to form an electric field, positive on one side (referred to as “p-type”) and negative on the other (called “n-type”). When light strikes the solar cell, its photons knock electrons loose from the atoms in the semiconductor material (typically crystalline silicone). To capture these free electrons (called “charge carriers”), electrical conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides to form an electrical circuit. The electricity drawn from the circuit can then be used to power a load. This is known as the “photovoltaic effect.” The

current, together with the cell’s voltage, defines the power that the cell can produce. On average, solar cells convert 5% to 15% of the solar energy they receive into electricity. This range will continue to increase, though, as the technology in this field continues to advance.

Components for converting sunlight to electricity include a module, support structure, wiring, inverter, meter, and other equipment. When the solar cells are combined, they form solar modules, also referred to as solar panels. These panels consist of a series of solar cells wired together and enclosed in a self-contained glass unit. On the sunward side, the solar cells are protected by a highly transparent solar glass pane. The underside is generally an insulating film or second pane of glass. Modules are connected via cables, which link them to the inverter. A connection socket is responsible for gathering the generated direct current. A solar panel array is a specially designed interconnected system of solar panels which function as a single electricity-producing unit. They are generally located in discrete, sunny areas, like roofs or remote, treeless locations, and typically share a support or mounting.

 

Fig: Solar cell (Credits: www.valuewalk.com)
Fig: Solar cell
(Credits: www.valuewalk.com)

A solar cell is an incredibly safe way to produce electricity. These cells are mostly made up of silicon, so their primary component is sand; there are no exhaust or toxic materials that could potentially leak from this system. The electricity that comes through the inverter is the same as that which comes from a household wall socket; as such, it should be treated with the same level of care. As far as maintenance is concerned, solar panels are best cleaned with a non-abrasive cleansing agent. Naturally, battery connections and fuse holders should be kept clean and dry. In terms of the environment, there are no pollutants produced with solar energy. In fact, a typical system cuts greenhouse gas emissions as effectively as planting a couple of dozen trees. Solar panels can be installed in remote locations without fear of adverse effects on the local environment.  These systems are quiet, reliable, and if maintained properly, long lasting, as well.

 

Fig. : Solar powered radio (Credit: https://www.ambientweather.com)
Fig. : Solar powered radio
(Credit: https://www.ambientweather.com)

Solar powered inventions

The use of solar power in low power electronic devices is not new. Since the last decade the use of solar power in small electronic gadgets has grown rapidly. The solar paneled watches, calculators the pocket sized radios were common for a long time. As the technology is progressing and as it is touching the sky height now the use of solar power also has increased and as a result we can see many new gadgets available in the market with solar panels. Solar power provides cleaner, more sustainable electricity and following is a list of products powered by sunlight, either directly or through electricity generated by solar panels.

·     Solar air conditioning·     Solar balloon

·     Solar boat

·     Solar bus

·     Solar car

·     Solar charger

·     Solar chimney

·     Solar computer

·     Solar cooker

·     Solar dryer

·     Solar furnace

·      Solar golf cart

·     Solar inverter

·     Solar keyboard

·     Solar lamp

·     Solar notebook·      Solar operated automatic milk collection unit

·      Solar panels on spacecraft

·     Solar pond

·     Solar roadway

·      Solar sail

·     Solar spark lighter

·     Solar still

·     Solar street light

·      Solar thermal rocket.

·      Solar tracker

·     Solar traffic light

·     Solar tree

·     Solar-powered calculator

·     Solar-powered desalination unit·     Solar-powered fan

·     Solar-powered flashlight

·     Solar-powered fountain

·     Solar-powered pump

·     Solar-powered radio

·     Solar-powered refrigerator

·     Solar-powered watch

·     Solar-pumped laser

·     Solar-stirling engine

·     Solar-vehicle

·      Solar-waste compact bin

·      Solar-windmill

Solar energy can provide power for smaller electronic gadgets and batteries and efforts are to develop a solar panel kit that could power up all the household electronics. Options for buying solar powered electronic devices are growing fast. Solar chargers can be had from several suppliers that power up cameras, digital music players, phones, or game machines.  Solar powered inventions are a creative and clean way of producing everyday items and even luxury items that not only make unique but is beneficial to the Earth. With solar power the possibilities are endless. Since the cost of producing solar panels has decreased, and new technology has allowed for a more pliable solar cell, we can expect solar technology to revolutionize energy usage in the most unexpected ways. Many solar innovations have crept into our daily lives and every one of us waits for the world to embrace solar energy on a massive scale. We can imagine a household where none of our appliances or electronic devices is plugged into an outlet, or toys and electronic devices that do not need batteries. .

Solar electronics

The use of personal electronic devices in the outdoors continues to grow, creating demand for portable power solutions to recharge these devices. Portable solar panels have become the preferred power source.  Consider using a solar panel for supplemental energy if our electronics use will exceed the available power stored in a supplemental portable battery. Use of solar energy in its different aspects along with solar powered electronic devices is making great inroads. Use of portable electronic devices has increased many folds with masses and charging these devices with solar energy will be beneficial to decrease the load on energy from conventional sources of energy.   Sensors are a

crucial ingredient to the “Internet of Things,” the notion that devices, or even organisms, can be linked to networks, through which they can deliver important information, such as performance levels, maintenance issues or research. Scientists have proposed embedding sensors in human skin that can measure everything from blood pressure to vitamin levels. Sensors are also used commonly in electronic devices (even cars and planes), or even in research applications such as measuring air quality. But such devices require a power source, and carrying around batteries or removing sensors to charge them is often not feasible. Devices need batteries that either last a very long time or possess the ability to recharge themselves. Renewable energy sources such as solar power could, in theory, provide that kind of power. But solar power has an efficiency problem. Circuits today can convert only about half of the energy that solar cells collect into usable electricity. For that reason, solar energy isn’t often practical for smaller devices that have little space to spare for solar cells, or devices that have to operate in low light environments.

Engineers have debuted a circuit which can power wearables, sensors and other electronic devices with a steady and renewable power source from solar energy that could fuel the growth of the “Internet of Things.”  Engineers say that the chip does a far better job of converting the energy captured by solar cells into usable electricity than current technology does, and the invention lends itself well to creating self-powering electronic sensors that can be used in a wide range of applications. The small circuit developed is an ultralow-power circuit that converts roughly 80 percent of that energy directly into electricity. The new circuit can both power devices and charge a battery connected to devices, another capability that has eluded such circuits so far. There is fixed overhead in terms of converting solar energy to power electronics, so the innovation in this chip is all about how we make that energy conversion extremely efficient.

 Choosing a solar charger

The solar module converts the solar energy into electricity when it receives sunlight. The photovoltaic process is responsible for the conversion of solar energy into electricity. The battery stores the converted electricity and we can use it to power electronic devices when required. Instead of using the solar modules directly to recharge battery, it is better to have a solar battery to power up electronic devices. It acts as a buffer for smart devices and filters the energy lows and peaks. Besides the initial cost of purchasing the solar charger, there is no additional cost of using the solar power. A solar charger can power multiple devices at the same time.  Several popular solar panel options are available:

  • Panels only, either rigid or semi-flexible
  • Panels with integrated storage batteries
  • Panels with independent (separate) storage batteries

The main variables to consider:

Surface area: The larger the solar panel, the more sunlight it collects and the faster it gets converted to power stored in a battery. A smaller panel, though easier to pack, takes longer to charge a battery. Large surface area is also best for conditions such as cloud cover or the low-angled, low-intensity light in winter, or when logistical constraints limit how long it can be exposed to sun. Charge times can vary from 4 to 16 hours of sunlight for the same battery, depending on surface area and light conditions.

Output capacity: Solar panels are rated in watts. The higher the number, the more electricity is generated during a given time period.

Semi-flexible or rigid panels: Semi-flexible solar panels can be folded or rolled up for easy transport and open up to provide a greater surface area than many rigid panels.

Conclusion

There are many advantages worth considering when it comes to solar energy and everything that it offers. The world’s technology innovators have started turning to eco-conscious gadgets in a big way. Some of the very gadgets we use every day have “greener,” cleaner versions out there. Many of them turn to solar energy to replace the traditional, emitting types. Solar power emits nothing and relies on a limitless fuel source, making it a guilt-free way to power our modern necessities. One of the most important advantages of these solar power battery chargers is that they are easily portable and hence they can easily carried to different places in order to charge various appliances. They don’t require external electrical sources to recharge batteries. Nowadays there are many useful solar gadgets that can charge electronic devices and the most important is that they are environmental friendly. The solar chargers are now more efficient than before and the energy is catching the attention of manufactures to make more accessories based on solar power. It is already very popular and widely adapted but in the near future we can see more innovations of solar power use in many electronic accessories.

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