In a broad sense, a solar panel can be defined as a device that captures and converts solar energy into electricity. In some cases simple water heaters and swimming pool heaters are also termed to be solar panels. Contrary to the fact that the solar panels should produce electricity, the heaters merely heat water.
Use of Solar Panels for Electricity Generation
These panels are basically a stack of photovoltaic cells that generate electricity. Since the photovoltaic is a small cell that even fit in your hand, there are multiple sizes in which they can be used. Scientists are searching for smaller and advanced solar cells that can be fitted into small electronic devices such as cell phones and laptop computers.
The problem is, manufacturing one cell is costly. In spite of such difficulties, in many places across the world, smaller initiatives such as solar panel powered street lamps and small cell phone chargers have been invented and introduced to the public.
Scientists confess that building huge solar parks and solar power plants was easier than attempting to introduce solar panels to common consumers. The problem is these cells are costly and the devices that are powered by them are still quite primitive, which increases the cost of initial purchase. The solar power energy costs of production are zero, as all you need is a minimal day light.
The efficiency of the solar panels deplete after almost 5 to 10 years (depending upon the quality of manufacture). Take a look, at the cost of solar panels for electricity.
- An entire street light with LEDs, plus the panel as well as the cost of installation, requires about $11,000 to $12,000. This installation is meant to last for more than a decade, and projects amazing light. Apart from that there is no operational cost, and it also operates in cloudy weather. The major drawback is that its cost is very high.
- The solar power cost estimate for larger panels is surprisingly outrageous. A simple explanation is that, larger the panel, more the number of photovoltaic cells that are going to be fitted into it. Companies have started manufacturing some products that can be used by common consumers and smaller business establishments, to reduce their monthly bills of electricity. Solar panels for electricity generation that can be used by consumers in their homes (technically they should be placed outside) will cost anything between $200 to $10,000, depending upon the output, but note that it's a one-time investment.
- A $600 to $800 solar panel for homes will deliver 123 watts of 12 V DC electricity output. Some really high-grade, high-end and highly durable solar panels cost about $10,000 and will deliver a 130 watts at 12 volts. The cost can thus also vary according to the quality of manufacturer.
- Smaller panels, that cost about $400, will deliver 14 watts of output while mammoth kits which will occupy a substantial amount of your roof top will require about $9000, but will give an output of 10 panels into 123 watts. Such enormous panel setups come in at huge costs but are highly instrumental in reducing your electricity bill, and you do not have to invest in them for a decade. If your region has a warm climate, then this is the best go-green option for you.
- For a trail, you can invest about $135 for a small 5 watt panel, which will give you an estimate of how much you will be able to save on your bill. Alternatively you can call up the manufacturer's dealer, who will be able to take you on a tour of previous installations.
- In case of apartments, where space becomes a constraint, a $200 to $400 investment is ideal as it will power all small appliances such as lights, fans, computers, music systems, etc.
- Speaking of small appliances, the panels which are meant for really small appliances have a negligible cost. The reason for the low-cost is the lesser number of PV cells. Laptop chargers and cell phone chargers are often as cheap as $50. There are several consumer electronic companies who have started introducing these small panels into the market.
Though the smaller, consumer oriented solar panels do not reduce the electricity consumption drastically, it's a start towards the process of a green planet. The cost of solar panels is bound to remain high due to the lower volume of production. The solar panels for your home require an initial investment that is high but, consider some calculations regarding the rising cost of energy and the benefit of the panels in the long run.