Flexible solar panels: types, characteristics + connection features
Solar energy is one of the most promising and rapidly developing alternative sources of electricity. This is a limitless resource that can be used anywhere on the planet without polluting the environment. Agree, it would be nice to get your own alternative source of electricity.
It turns out that now solar energy can be converted into electricity right at home. Instead of bulky and fragile frame panels, flexible solar panels are now increasingly being used. But how to implement it in practice?
We will help to deal with the device of flexible solar panels and the principle of their work. Useful recommendations on the selection and installation of structures are set forth in our article. And for ease of perception of information material contains thematic photos and videos.
What is solar panels?
In order to understand whether flexible panels are suitable for generating electricity, you need to understand the theory. What is a solar battery, how does the structure of flexible models differ from the rest? And also, it is very important to determine the advantages and disadvantages of this particular type of solar cells before purchasing.
Structure and principles of operation of flexible panels
The principle of operation of the solar battery is built on such a concept as photovoltaics. Light, as it is known, can be considered both as a wave and as a stream of particles - photons. The ability to convert photon energy into electricity is photovoltaic.
A semiconductor is a material that has a special atomic structure. An n-type semiconductor has extra electrons, and p-type semiconductor atoms lack them. To assemble a photocell, combine 2 types of materials, forming a two-layer structure.
Separate photo cells are combined in panels.Panels can be tough, in a strong metal frame. Now there is a tendency to simplify the design of photo panels. Popularity is gaining flexible and lightweight solar cells.
The principle of operation of the solar battery can be described as:
- Sunlight hits the surface of the photocell from the side of the n-layer.
- Photons collide with semiconductor atoms, "knocking out" extra electrons.
- Free electrons move towards the p-layer and enter atoms with a lack of particles.
- As a result, the top layer acts as a cathode, and the bottom layer acts as an anode.
- Produced direct current, which can easily charge the battery.
Silicon, selenium and many more expensive materials are used as a semiconductor.
Polymeric sputtering with aluminum conductors is also used for flexible film solar cells. Such a structure makes the panels surprisingly thin and light.
This technology is just beginning to develop, but the fact that it has great prospects is beyond doubt.But we will consider flexible panels in the broad sense of the definition.
Advantages of flexible solar cells
The advantages of flexible solar panels make this method of generating electricity one of the most promising:
- the weight;
- the size;
- environmental friendliness;
- ease of operation.
Geometrical and physical parameters of the panels, such as size and weight, are of great importance, since large numbers of panels will require a large number to provide electricity for an entire dwelling house. When using heavy models, it may be necessary to strengthen the building structure, which will significantly increase installation costs.
The performance of silicon batteries is quite high. It is difficult to estimate the efficiency in this case, panels of semiconductors are able to convert light into electricity by 20% on average.
That is, if the power of solar radiation is 200 watts, about 40 watts of electricity will be received.
Flexible amorphous solar panels are much more tolerant of cloudy weather than conventional rigid silicon-based structures.
For comparison, a standard solar battery can work only at 10% of its power in cloudy weather, while a flexible panel gives out about 50% of its nominal values.
Sunlight is a free and unlimited resource. This is its undoubted plus, in which the absolute efficiency of solar panels is expressed.
In addition, this method of energy production is completely environmentally friendly, does not affect the state of the environment and does not harm it.
Moreover, by abandoning the popular alternative to solar energy - thermal power plants, humankind reduces the level of air pollution.
Disadvantages of flexible type solar cells
Disadvantages of flexible solar panels are also missing. Firstly, this technology is only developing and has not yet reached the peak of its capabilities.In terms of performance, flexible amorphous batteries are inferior to rigid poly-or single-crystal.
Secondly, thin foil and the minimum layer of sputtering relatively quickly fail. The warranty period for such panels is about 3 years. After this, the photovoltaic cells begin to gradually break down and require replacement.
Other disadvantages are inherent in all types of solar cells:
- payback time;
- high price;
- a large number of expensive equipment, in addition to the batteries themselves;
- weather dependency.
A flexible panel with a power of about 150 W costs about 40 thousand rubles. or more, depending on the manufacturer. 20 batteries, a set of batteries and additional equipment will cost a round sum. Taking into account the cost of 1 kWh of electricity to pay for the system you will have more than one year.
Where and how is solar energy used?
Flexible panels are used in different areas. Before you make a project of energy supply at home with the help of these solar cells, find out where they are used and what are the features of their use in our climate.
Scope of solar cells
The use of flexible solar cells is very wide. They are successfully used in electronics, electrification of buildings, car and aircraft industry, on space objects.
In construction, such panels are used to provide residential and industrial buildings with electricity.
Portable solar-powered chargers are available to everyone and are sold everywhere. Large flexible travel panels for mining electricity anywhere in the world are very popular among travelers.
A very unusual, but practical idea is to use a road bed as the basis for flexible batteries. Special elements are protected from impacts and are not afraid of heavy loads.
This idea has already been implemented. The “sunny” road provides energy to the surrounding villages, while not occupying a single extra meter of land.
Features of the use of flexible amorphous panels
Those who plan to start using flexible solar panels as a source of electricity for their home should know the features of their operation.
First of all, users are concerned about the question of what to do in the winter, when the daylight is short and there is not enough electricity to operate all the devices?
Yes, in conditions of cloudy weather and short daylight, the performance of the panels decreases. Well, when there is an alternative in the form of the possibility of switching to centralized power supply. If it is not there, you need to stock up on batteries and charge them on days when the weather is favorable.
An interesting feature of solar cells is that when the photocell is heated, its efficiency is significantly reduced.
The number of clear days per year depends on the region. Of course, in the south it is more rational to use flexible batteries, since the sun shines there longer and more often.
Since during the day the Earth changes its position relative to the Sun, it is better to position the panels universally - that is, from the south side at an angle of about 35-40 degrees. This situation will be relevant in the morning and evening hours, and at noon.
Installation instructions for solar panels on the roof
If you decide that flexible solar cells based on amorphous silicon - this is what you need to provide electricity to a private house, start planning work.
Pick the right equipment and estimate the approximate number of panels. Then read the rules of installation and subsequent maintenance of solar cells.
But remember that the use of traditional silicon poly-and single-crystal analogues is still much more productive.
Step 1. Calculate the number of panels
Any work begins with the project. For the design you need to make the necessary calculations, namely:
- daily electricity consumption;
- total required photovoltaic power;
- battery capacity;
- number of panels.
The simplest is to calculate the power consumption. To do this, take into account absolutely all, without exception, electrical appliances that you use or can theoretically use. A simple example:
- refrigerator - 200 watts;
- computer - 300 watts;
- TV - 150 watts;
- economical bulbs - 5 pieces of 20 watts.
The power of each device must be indicated in its documentation or on the case. After adding all the data we get 750 watts. Based on this value, the inverter is selected - a device that converts direct current into alternating current with the desired frequency.
Be sure to make a small margin and select an inverter 0.5 kW more powerful than the calculated value. That is, for a total power of 0.75 kW, the device will fit no weaker than 1.25 kW
After you need to pick up the batteries.The battery capacity (for example, 200 A ∙ h) indicates the current of what power will be delivered at a given voltage for one hour.
You can calculate the required capacity by dividing the total power of consumers by the output voltage of the solar battery. In our example, we use 12 volt batteries. 750/12 = 62.5 Ah ∙ h.
But this formula is not entirely correct, since most batteries cannot be discharged to 0. There is a certain limit, for example 40%. If the charge level falls below, this significantly affects the service life and quality of the battery. This indicator also needs to be added to the formula:
750 W / (12 Vх0,4) = 156.25 A ∙ h.
To achieve such a capacity, a group of 2 batteries of 100 A А h each can be combined into a system.
The number of panels is calculated based on the power of the selected model and the region in which they will be installed. The value of the region is difficult to overestimate.
Ideally, you need to find the values of the daily level of solar radiation for your area. For reliability, the minimum value for the year is taken, approximately at the end of December.
Multiplying this figure by the number of calendar days of the month, we get the number of kilowatts, which falls on 1 m2 of flexible solar battery in December. For example, in Moscow it is 0.33x31 = 10.23 kW / m2, and for Sochi it is 1.25x31 = 38.75 kW / m2. This indicator is called the number of points.
Then, from the conventional maximum 0.75 kW consumed by all devices at the same time, we calculate the average monthly consumption — about 25 kW. For a month, our flexible batteries should produce at least 25,000 watts, and it is better to make a small margin and round up to 30 kW.
Consequently, at 1 point in Moscow, it should be 30 / 10.23 = 2.93 kW. If the selected panels have a capacity of 150 W, then counting their number is not difficult: 2.93 / 0.15 = 20 pieces.
After such simple calculations, you can choose the right inverter, controller, battery and flexible photovoltaic panels themselves in the right quantity.
Step # 2. Installation rules
Installation of flexible solar cells can be carried out by you. To do this, it is necessary to determine exactly where you will place your panels:
- on the roof of the building;
- on the facade of the house;
- on a stand-alone structure;
- combined scheme.
The most popular option is on the roof. If the shape or configuration of the roof does not allow this, it is better to build an additional frame on which to place the batteries. It is more expensive, but if the roof is shaded or difficult to access, this option becomes rational.
Flexible solar photovoltaic cells on the bottom side have a sticky resinous layer. It is enough to remove the protective film and glue the panel in the chosen place. Of course, the surface must be cleaned and cleaned before installation.
On the one hand, the solar module has 2 derived cables. Each panel is positioned so that these wires can later be united by one bus for serial connection.
Step # 3. System care after installation
After installing flexible solar cells, they will need to be constantly looked after and monitored, otherwise their efficiency may drop dramatically. The main thing is to keep the panels clean.
Dust, dirt, bird droppings - all of these factors reduce the performance of the system, since they limit the absorption of sunlight by photocells.
Solar panels need to be cleaned when contaminated. That is why it is not recommended to place them in hard-to-reach places on a complex roof.
If your system can not be serviced by you, you can always find an artist with the appropriate equipment and facilities. Of course, it will be worth more.
Another problem that is relevant for our regions is snow. In winter, batteries fall asleep with snow and cease to function. Precipitation must be constantly cleared, but not too rough, otherwise the equipment itself may be damaged.
Conclusions and useful video on the topic
Videos and reviews that look at flexible panels from popular manufacturers will help you make the right choice. You will be able to see how your house will look after the installation of equipment, experts will help you choose the right amount of batteries and consider the installation rules.
How are flexible solar panels and what they are made of:
It is also possible to install a flexible battery in an apartment on the facade of a high-rise building, why not:
A little more about the production and advantages of flexible elements:
Solar panels make it possible to become non-volatile, not to monitor the price of gasoline and utilities. If you invest a certain amount once, you will be able to consume energy indefinitely to use household appliancesand recharging the electric vehicle battery. More and more people are switching to alternative energy, because behind it is the future.