Sustainable Design for the 21st Century

Harnessing the SUN to Power Our Lives

                                                    by Brent Sauser

Solar power is not science fiction or untested experimental technology.  It is big business and growing.  The concept of solar power is not new and most of us are aware of some type of application.  It is solar power that made space flight possible.  It is solar power that sustains thousands of our satellites.  It is solar power that keeps the International Space Station going.  Effective and efficient solar power has been around for a long time, and it’s only getting more efficient and less costly as solar technology keeps improving.  In fact, the variety of solar power products is more diverse than ever.  This blog will address solar panels.   I will feature thin film solar cells in a subsequent blog. 

 What is a solar panel?  I think we all have a general idea, but perhaps it makes sense to be more specific.  A solar panel can also be called a “solar cell” or “photovoltaic cell”.  It is an electrical device that converts sunlight directly into electricity.  The solar cell works in three steps:

 1.  Photons in sunlight are absorbed by the semiconducting materials in the solar panel, such as silicon.

2.  The sunlight charges the electrons to create an electrical current.  The composition of the solar cells is such that the electrons are only allowed to move in a single direction. 

3.  An array (or collection) of solar cells converts the solar energy into a usable amount of direct current (DC) electricity. 

4.  An inverter changes the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) for everyday use. 


With the continued advancements in solar cell technology the result for us is:

1.  More powerful and efficient solar panels.

2.  Lower cost and reduced time period for a return on investment.

 The variety of application for solar power has only been limited by our imagination.  Although NetZeroMax focuses on applications related to reducing the energy demand on buildings, here are a few more examples of other uses for solar power: 


Please click on the links below to learn more about solar cell technology and how much it costs to implement. 

 How Much Does it Cost to Install Solar on an Average US Home?

Cost of Solar Power

97% of Americans Overestimate Cost of Installing Solar

Top 5 Mistakes When Considering Solar Power For Your Home

Solar Economics – How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

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