Project cost ($):
1 hour to prepare, 1 hour for experiment
Purchase solar cells from hobby engineering stores or from school science laboratory suppliers
Long hours of exposure to the sun may cause dizziness, dehydration or heat stroke. Make sure you drink an adequate amount of water and put on sunscreen. You should ensure that you protect yourself with an umbrella or wear a hat as you will be under the sun for a fair amount of time.
Table of Contents
This experiment was done to find out how different types of solar concentrators affect the performance of solar cells. The tests were carried out using a parabolic dish covered with a reflective aluminum sheet and a mirror
Using parabolic mirrors will help achieve the highest level of photovoltaic output from solar cells.
Monocrystalline solar cells - with a good solar energy conversion rate between 12% - 16%. However, these cells are very difficult and expensive to manufacture.
Polycrystalline solar cells - with a lower solar energy conversion rate between 11% - 13% but which are cheaper to manufacture.
Amorphous solar cells - with the lowest solar energy conversion rate between 8% - 10% and which is the cheapest to manufacture
A solar cell typically produces an output voltage of about 0.5Vdc. This voltage can be increased by connecting the solar cells in a series. To increase the output current, the solar cells need to be connected in parallel.
Solar reflectors are devices used to reflect the parallel rays of the sun onto the surface of the solar panel to enhance the efficiency of the solar cells. They are normally parabolic in shape.
Solar cell, photovoltaic cells, solar concentrator, monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells, amorphous cells, ammeter, voltmeter
The materials required for this experiment:
The results show that the use of the parabolic reflector helped to obtain the highest power output from the solar panel, followed by the mirror reflector.
The hypothesis that the use of a parabolic mirror will provide the highest power output from the solar cell, and that this is followed by using a flat mirror - is proven to be true. The parabolic reflector helps to direct the most amount of sunlight towards the solar cell thus enabling it to produce electricity more efficiently.
The use of solar, wind and water energy to produce electricity is called"clean" or"green" energy. This is because these sources of energy do not produce any harmful waste (such as carbon dioxide) and do not pose a threat to our environment.
The experiment can be repeated indoors using fluorescent lighting.
Try to repeat the experiment indoors in an air conditioned room at different temperatures, and observe whether the change in temperature affects the output of the photovoltaic cells.