How Solar Electricity Works
The Sun is an excellent source of energy, and as energy prices rise it makes sense to consider solar energy for two types of energy that everyone needs - heat and electricity. Solar heating is also called Solar Thermal, or Solar Hot Water. Generating electricity with the sun is called Solar Electric, or Photovoltaic (pronounced fo-toe-vole-tay-ik). Colorado Solar Inc focuses exclusively on Photovoltaic systems; that is, systems that generate electricity.
Note there are many variations of solar energy collectors in research labs and special industrial situations. It is possible to do a great many things with the various forms of energy that come to us in sunlight. In the future there will probably be many types of optical systems and new semiconductors to use all of the various wavelengths present in sunlight. Today, for home- or business-scale systems, the dominant technology is a sheet of crystalline silicon which throws off electrons in proportion to the amount of visible light striking the sheet.
"All of the solar panels that we offer for large systems have a 25 year pro-rated warranty on the output power"
These sheets of silicon crystal are encased in a thin sealed lamination to form a lightweight but strong and durable solar module or solar panel. The front of these panels is made of special tempered glass so they have a toughness close to auto glass and skylights. All of the materials used in solar panels are manufactured specifically for that purpose, and very long life is possible because air and water are sealed out of the lamination, and there are no moving parts. All of the solar panels that we offer for large systems have a 25 year pro-rated warrantee on the output power, and their lifetime can significantly exceed that.
We have put together a Frequently Asked Questions page about solar electricity, and also some more technical explanations of different types of solar power systems, which can be found in the menu to the left.
Next page: Adding Solar Power to a Typical Home