To understand why the PPT can increase the efficiency of your solar power charging system a closer at the electrical characteristics of a solar panel is necessary. Solar panels convert photons from the sun striking their surfaces into electricity of a characteristic voltage and current. The solar panel’s electrical output can be plotted on a graph of voltage vs. current: an IV curve. I represents the current in amps and V represents the voltage in volts. The resulting line on the graph shows the current output of the panel for each voltage at a specific light level and temperature. (Fig. 2) The current is constant until reaching the higher voltages, when it falls off rapidly. This IV curve is applicable to the electrical output of all solar panels.
Arduino Peak Power Tracker Solar Charger - [Link]
Best viewed at 720p and fullscreen, this is truly spectacular. More from Universe Today: [via]
Newly reprocessed images from NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft, allow scientists to trace the anatomy of a Coronal Mass Ejection in December 2008 as it moves and changes on its journey from the Sun to the Earth. Using a new technique, heliophysicists can now identify the origin and structure of the material that impacted Earth, and connect the image data directly with measurements at Earth at the time of impact.
The different views from left to right are at different scales. The yellow dot is Venus and the blue dot is Earth. Closer to Earth is a dial showing the solar wind density changes at Lagrangian point L1 where the ACE and Wind spacecraft recorded the event.
NASA Video: Solar Storm Enveloping the Earth - [Link]
Solar chargers use solar energy to power my electronics, neat! How do they work?
Short answer: Sunlight hits solar panels -> solar panels generate electricity -> electricity flows into battery -> battery outputs clean power on demand to your device
Long answer: We’ve created a five part tutorial to take you through every stage of the process. Solar is obviously much less predictable than plugging into the grid so we’ll be focusing both on specifications and what to expect in the real world. Bring along a multimeter and some parts from Radio Shack and you can get a pretty good idea of how exactly how solar charger work.
Solar Charger Tutorial - [Link]
Ransomhall writes – [via]
Thanks to this nice tutorial http://ladyada.net/make/solarlogger/ I’ve done a substantial upgrade! Now I can monitor and save the following data:
- Voltage: Panel, Battery, Load
- Current: Panel and soon battery (waiting on parts)
- Temperature: battery, in case it gets too hot.
Solar MintyBoost - [Link]
An unconventional, scalable high efficiency 12V solar power system, a battery charge controller with low voltage cutout to protect the battery. www.opend.co.za writes:
Low idling current
This circuit was designed for small to medium lead acid systems and feature a lowish idle current ( 5mA ) which increases battery life on small capacity systems.
Easily obtainable parts
All the parts in this design are through hole parts and can be found from a number of sources. None of the parts need programing and only a voltmeter and an adjustable supply is needed to calibrate the board. This makes it easy and cheap to build and maintain.
This is the 3rd iteration of the design, with improvements and bug fixes at every step.
A Novel high efficiency scalable solar regulator - [Link]
While roofs across the world sport photovoltaic solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, a Duke University engineer believes a novel hybrid system can wring even more useful energy out of the sun’s rays.
Instead of systems based on standard solar panels, Duke University engineer Nico Hotz proposes a hybrid option in which sunlight heats a combination of water and methanol in a maze of glass tubes on a rooftop. After two catalytic reactions, the system produces hydrogen much more efficiently than current technology without significant impurities. The resulting hydrogen can be stored and used on demand in fuel cells. [via]
Hybrid solar system makes rooftop hydrogen - [Link]
Andyx writes – [via]
This is a work in progress project which uses a Solar charging MintyBoost to power an Arduino with a Proto Screw Shield on it. Attached is a 2X16 LCD using the I2C Backpack, a DHT22 Temperature and Humidity Sensor, a Waterproof DS18B20 Sensor and a 5V analog PH Probe/Adapter.
Solar Minty + DHT22 + Waterproof DS18B20 + PH Probe - [Link]
The sheet of paper looks like any other document that might have just come spitting out of an office printer, with an array of colored rectangles printed over much of its surface. But then a researcher picks it up, clips a couple of wires to one end, and shines a light on the paper. Instantly an LCD clock display at the other end of the wires starts to display the time.
Almost as cheaply and easily as printing a photo on your inkjet, an inexpensive, simple solar cell has been created on that flimsy sheet, formed from special “inks” deposited on the paper. You can even fold it up to slip into a pocket, then unfold it and watch it generating electricity again in the sunlight. [via]
Foldable array of solar cells printed on a sheet of paper - [Link]
Traditional solar cell production techniques are usually time consuming and require expensive vacuum systems or toxic chemicals. Depositing chemical compounds such as CIGS on a substrate using vapor phase deposition also wastes most of the expensive material in the process. For the first time, engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have now developed a process to create “CIGS” solar cells with inkjet printing technology that allows for precise patterning to reduce raw material waste by 90 percent and significantly lower the cost of producing solar cells with promising, yet expensive compounds.
Researchers cut waste and lower cost of ‘CIGS’ solar cells using inkjet printing technology - [Link]