Can You Charge a Solar Panel with UV Light?
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The demand for renewable energy technologies is constantly increasing, and solar power is just one answer to the problems of energy generation for a growing population and climate change.
Despite deriving their name from our closest star (the Sun), solar panels do not strictly need sunlight to charge or function in general. However, using artificial light to charge a solar panel is not as easy or as useful as it may seem.
Read on to learn more about solar panels, their ability to charge, and why artificial light cannot truly replace sunlight.
Can You Charge a Solar Panel with a UV Light?
To answer the question of whether a solar panel can be charged with ultraviolet (UV) light, we first have to understand some basics of how solar panels work and physics in general.
The photovoltaic (PV) cell is the individual unit of a solar panel and is typically made up of a silicon-based semiconductor that absorbs the energy of light that strikes and passes through the semiconductor.
The energy of the light is passed on to electrons in the semiconductor, which flows as a current, which is how electricity is generated.
The spectrum of electromagnetic radiation includes wavelengths we associate with “light,” which most often include infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light.
Infrared has a longer wavelength with lower energy, while ultraviolet light has a shorter wavelength and much higher energy, with visible light lying somewhere between the two.
A PV cell features a “Band gap,” which is the wavelengths of light that it absorbs. Because solar panels are specifically designed to absorb the visible wavelengths of sunlight, UV wavelengths are not often captured.
So, while it is technically possible to charge a solar panel with an artificial UV light, there wouldn’t be much point because very little of the energy would be captured.
What Kind of UV Light Can Charge a Solar Panel?
There is only a very small portion of UV light that will be able to charge today’s version of solar panels, even if they are high-efficiency solar panels.
This portion of UV light is known as ultraviolet A or UVA radiation, and even within the small range of UVA wavelengths, only a limited subset of wavelengths are capable of charging a solar panel because they happen to overlap with one extreme of the visible light spectrum.
Although UV wavelengths seem to be the answer to more efficient solar panels because they are naturally higher in energy, they only make up 3% of all sunlight, even when the Sun is at its highest in the sky.
This means it doesn’t make sense when we could easily capture the other 97%.
A backlight with no filter is pretty much your only option to charge a solar panel with artificial light because it generates the correct range of wavelengths.
Do solar panels make your house hotter?
It’s a common misconception that installing solar panels on your roof will make your house hotter. The opposite is often true! Solar panels can help reduce your energy bills and keep your home cooler in the summer months. Let’s take a closer look at how solar panels work and how they can benefit your home.
Do solar panels make your house hotter?
Solar panels do not make your house hotter because the solar panels create a ventilation space, creating a cooling effect on the roof. According to a study done by researchers at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, solar panels lowered the amount of heat hitting the roof by an impressive 38 percent, keeping a building’s roof 5 degrees cooler than areas exposed to direct sunlight.
When solar panels are mounted on brackets, they create a space between the roof and the panels. This space allows hot air to rise and escape, lowering the temperature of the roof and attic.
To understand how solar panels mounted on your roof create a ventilation space, it is first necessary to understand how heat is transferred. Heat is transferred through three different methods: conduction, convection, and radiation.
The ventilation space between the solar panels and roof transfers heat from the roof with convection to the air, dissipating the heat. This effectively reduces the heat on the roof by as much as 38 percent.
Do solar panels make your roof last longer?
Solar panels can also have a positive impact on your roof. Installing solar panels can help to extend the life of your roof. Here’s how:
Solar panels protect from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause damage to your roof over time. The panels also act against wind, hail, and other elements.
Solar panels can help keep your attic cooler in the summer months, preventing heat from damaging your shingles.
The installation of solar panels can help to strengthen your roof by providing additional support. This is especially important in areas where roofs are susceptible to high winds.
Overall, solar panels can be a great way to save money and protect your roof.
Do solar panels reduce attic temperature?
The attic is the house area that is directly below the roof. In hot climates, the temperature in an attic can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The sun heats the roof, and the heat is then transferred to the attic. Solar panels can help reduce the temperature on the roof and in an attic by shading and cooling the roof through the ventilation space created by the solar panels.
a Cooler roof means a cooler attic. The installation of solar panels can help reduce the temperature of your attic by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Clouds gather. The sky grows dark. A solar homeowner may naturally wonder: how much energy can my solar system generate during cloudy days? What about rainy days? Will my solar system still produce solar energy in overcast conditions? And what about evening—how do solar panels work at night?
While of course solar panels need sunlight to produce energy, it’s important to learn how cloudy conditions can affect the efficiency of solar energy generation and how factors such as partial shade and tree cover can impact your solar system power output.
In short, solar panels still work in cloudy weather. They just might generate less power, depending on the quality and efficiency of your panels.
Does a cloudy day affect solar energy generation?
Anyone who’s gotten sunburned on a cloudy day knows that solar radiation penetrates clouds. For that same reason, solar panels can still produce electricity on cloudy days. But depending on the Cloud cover and the quality of the solar panels, efficiency can drop to anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the energy output seen on a sunny day.
Which solar panels work best in cloudy conditions?
High efficiency panels make more energy than conventional panels on a cloudy day, making them an excellent fit for cloudy climates or if trees partially shade your roof during certain times of day. But don’t forget about the cells themselves. Some solar cells capture a broader range of UV light (for example, red and blue wavelengths) which contribute to higher energy production in various weather conditions.
Some cells (including those used by SunPower) incorporate a backside mirror. This thin layer of aluminum bounces some of the light photons that are not absorbed on their first pass through a cell back into the cell to have a second chance for absorption. This results in greater output of electrons from the same input of light.
That AC power runs through your home ready to power appliances charge devices and more.
If your solar system produces far more electricity than you need, that AC power then goes back to the grid to be used by the utility, which in many areas offers the homeowner a credit via net metering.
Net metering policies, which vary by state, generally give you credit for excess power you produce, and you can draw on that credit at night or when your system produces less due to cloudy weather.
Key questions answered about solar panels and cloudy weather
Here are 3 important things to remember:
Can solar power work well in typically cloudy, cold locations?
These cities are some of the cloudiest in the US
All of those cities can experience quite inclement weather, from rain and fog to blizzards, yet all of them top the list of U.S. cities that see the highest level of savings thanks to solar installations. The cost of electricity—not the number of cloudy or cold days—is the biggest factor in determining whether solar saves people money on their electric bill. In New York and San Francisco, for example, the high cost of electricity makes solar installation worth the investment for home and business owners.
It doesn’t hurt to keep in mind that Germany—a leader in renewable energy that has on average over 200 partially cloudy or cloudy days a year—accounts for about 25 percent of the world’s solar power output and achieved its strongest growth in half a decade last year. That’s good evidence that going solar is about saving on energy costs and helping the planet—not the sunny weather.
Do solar panels work at night?
Technically, no. Solar panels and cells must have direct sunlight to generate electricity. But that’s not the entire story. Complete home solar solutions offer two key benefits that affect nighttime energy use: backup battery storage and net metering.
While the solar panels themselves work hard all day producing electricity from the sun, adding a battery storage solution like SunVault Storage lets you access stored solar energy at night—and during power outages—further reducing your reliance on the grid.
As mentioned earlier, net metering offers similar benefits. It won’t help you access power in a grid outage, but it can help you offset the cost of using grid energy at night (and other times of low solar production).
Do solar panels also lose efficiency when it rains?
Just like normal Cloud cover, ultraviolet rays still make their way through rain as well. However, because the sunlight is limited, so is production. The amount of electricity generated is dependent on the density of Cloud coverage, so your system’s production will be inconsistent and generally reduced on those gloomy days.
Though energy production decreases as rain and Cloud cover increases, solar panels continue generating more energy than you might expect. Rain also helps wash away dust and debris—keeping your panels clean and operating at maximum efficiency from season to season.
Solar Panels Actually Protect Your Roof
Some people worry about damage to their roof from installing solar panels, but today’s reality is actually the polar opposite. Solar panels are actually designed to protect your roof from the elements, helping extend its life and protecting it from inclement weather. The panels keep water away, create a buffer zone between direct sunlight and the roof itself, and can even help reduce temperature fluctuations in your attic. all of which add up to additional savings on energy bills in the long run.
The one key area of protection here that some home or building owners don’t FOCUS enough on is UV protection. Normal roofs take a serious beating from the sun’s UV rays, but solar panels provide an extra layer of protection that can help your roof last longer.
The Sun Can Power the Entire World for a Year. in an Hour
There are some out there who might be unaware of the true power of the sun and what it can do. In truth, the total energy of the sun that hits Earth in just one hour is enough to power our entire planet for an entire year. and this is happening every single day!
This statistic should help put into perspective how much potential solar energy out there has to be harnessed in order for us to truly make the most of it. We’d need to capture and utilize just a fraction of this energy to be able to power our homes and businesses, while also reducing our collective carbon footprint in the process.
Solar Power Can Be Used Anywhere in the World
One of the biggest misconceptions about solar is that it can only be used in sunny climates. But the truth is, solar technology can be used in virtually any location. even if it doesn’t always seem the most ideal place to harvest energy from the sun.
Solar panels convert UV light into electricity no matter where they are located, meaning that even on cloudy days, you’re still able to get some sort of usable power out of them. And with advances in technology, even shadier climates can still benefit from the power of solar energy, making it easier than ever to make the switch and start saving money on your energy bills.
The amount of potential that solar power has is truly remarkable. and with each new discovery made in this field, we’re closer to being able to make the switch and start utilizing this clean source of energy in our homes and businesses. So if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, consider all the facts above and see if solar power is right for you!
For more here, or to learn about any of our solar panels or solar power solutions, speak to our team at Intermountain Wind Solar today.