Solar Converters

Solar Converters

Solar converters are devices that are manufactured and used for converting the energy present in light to thermal energy or electrical energy. Thermal power receptors absorb the photons from the sunlight and convert it into heat energy for heating water in pools or for producing steam to rotate turbines that in turn, generates electricity. The other more direct conversion of solar energy into electrical energy is done with the help of solar converters that are known as photovoltaic cells or PV cells. These cells convert the solar energy into electrical energy with the help of semiconductors like silicon crystals that allow free movement of electrons within the crystal body and outside through the apparatus and into the solar generators. The two kinds of solar converter systems are explained below.

The photovoltaic cell based PV panels – These cells are usually made from silicon crystals as they are the best semiconductors that give the highest rate of solar energy to electrical energy conversion. However, the cost associated with using pure silicon blocks have given way to some other types of solar cells that do not consist of silicon only or in some cases, do not contain any silicon at all. CIGS or copper-indium-gallium-selenide crystals are a very widely used cheaper alternative. A PV solar panel is usually made out of multiple of these cells interconnected through metal conductors. After the photons hit the semiconductor, the electrons are set into motion and are allowed to move from the crystals into the inverters in the form of direct current, where the DC is converted to alternating current or AC. This alternating current is the usable form of electricity which is then stored inside the solar generators to power electrical appliances. The efficiency of these types of solar converters depends largely upon the quality of the semiconductor crystal and the climatic condition. In fact, even a very hot day would not be as beneficial to a PV cell converter as a cold yet clear day.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Systems – Two main advantages that the CSP systems have over the PV cell panels are price and sensitivity. What this means is that CSP systems are cheaper to install and are not affected adversely by intense heat unlike the PV panels. There are three kinds of CSP systems in use today, solar trough, power tower and the most common and also the most effective, the parabolic saucer. The sunlight is reflected with the help of parabolic lenses to a certain unique point which is known as the focal point. On this focal point, the thermal receptors are located to absorb the heat through fluids like oil that are capable of both absorbing and transferring the thermal energy; it serves to power the attached steam machine. The steam then works the steam turbine that starts generating electricity and then makes its way into the condenser to be converted back to water again in order to repeat the process.

Both the CSP and the PV systems have their advantages as well as disadvantages but the best thing is that whichever one you choose, it would not only help you save the environment, but also will help you save a good deal of money in the long run.

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