TRIPLE YOUR SOLAR ARRAY'S OUTPUT!

Introduction: TRIPLE YOUR SOLAR ARRAY'S OUTPUT!

About: I am a tech maniac; from media, marketing and design to alternative energy and more. Check out my website for links to all my projects.

Solar panels are cheap, and due to improvements in manufacturing, economies of scale and other factors, they are getting even cheaper. But, that leaves most of us with the problem of where to put them. While solar panels are easy to come by, land and roof space to put them on is not. If fact, it is quite the opposite; solar panels get cheaper while property prices increase.

The results of the new and original concept presented here are astonishing. After performing this experiment we'll find that we can more than triple our output for a given area; actually, data shows an increase in output of 670%. If you have 100 sq feet, you can go from 1kW to 6.7kW of output power! If you have 1,000 sq feet, you can go from 10kW to 67kW!...

Land is an expensive part of solar farming in most cases.The technology described here has the potential to save us billions in the development of large scale solar applications by reducing land costs, and in addition, this particular advancement can make energy independence truly possible for the average home owner.

Let's find out how...

Step 1: Theory and Abstract

This discourse from the standard method is based on our findings from previous experiments to determine the nature of light. Now that we have determined that light is a wave and not imaginary particles, we can begin to treat it as such and by doing so we can then reap the benefits of our new found knowledge.

If light were particles, then to optimize for efficiency we would want to maximize area on the plane perpendicular to the source in order to collect as many of these particles as we can. But, it is not. Light is a wave, a vibration with an energetic potential difference between points of positive and negative amplitude.

So, rather than collecting "photons" like particles in a bucket, let us harvest the energy from a wave of light in a way similar to other known waves.

Sound, for instance, can be captured very efficiently. As a sound engineer for many years I have witnessed this for myself. Sound waves, for a given area, are best absorbed not by a flat wall but by an array of ridges known as studio foam. In "the quietest place in the world," Microsoft's award-winning anechoic audio lab, the walls are composed of long wedges which cause the sound to reflect multiple times, each time losing an amount of energy to the wedge.

Knowing that light is a wave, we can take advantage of that same property and given that light is of a higher frequency than sound (0.003-7.5 x 10^14Hz at 299,000,000 m/s compared to 20Hz-20kHz at 343.2 m/s) we will have more reflections for a given distance and therefore more opportunities to capture that energy.

We will keep in mind that, when capturing the energy of a wave, at every successive interval energy will decrease because amplitude is lost at each reflection point. This will result in exponentially decreasing energy with respect to the number of reflections. But these reflections, if graphed based on our theoretical geometry, show a fractal pattern of data that is additive at every point of reflection. At the scale of this experiment we will be capturing the energy from up to 100,000 reflections or more, opposed to one single reflection captured with a typical flat solar array orientation.

In a recording studio environment it is advantageous to reflectively direct sound waves into wedge-like cavities to absorb that energy instead of allowing the sound to bounce off the wall while maintaining a large portion of it's energy. In a solar array, as we are about to find, it is similarly advantageous to do the same.

Instead of letting light hit our solar panels and bounce off as wasted energy we will set up a configuration that reflects each light wave multiple times extracting more and more energy each time. This reflection will cause the inside of the solar panel configuration to appear darker than a standard flat configuration which we can observe by measuring reflected light traveling in the inverse direction as the source. Most importantly though, we will observe that by taking advantage of the known wave properties of light, we can extract significantly more energy for a given area.

Let's begin...

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

The basic parts of this configuration are simple and are the same components used in any solar array. We are simply going to optimize our configuration to produce the most energy from a given area.

The core of the parts required are, of course, the solar cells. We are going to design a configuration that allows for more of them to fit in your yard, on your roof or on your town's solar farm.

For this project, we'll be designing a handy platform for testing, experiment, optimization and demonstration.

Once you see for yourself how much more energy you can get from a square inch, you'll want to immediately scale it up!

Let's begin with a small scale version first, though.


Parts include:

(8) Solar Cells, uniform (ex. 2x4", 6v,1w)
(2 ft.) 12-22g Insulated Wire
(2) Digital Voltmeters, low draw, may require resistors/dummy load
(2) Plexiglass, 8x10"
(4) 5/16" Bolts
(8-12) 5/16" Nuts
(4) 5/16" Washers, End Caps

Tools needed:
Soldering Iron, Solder
Drill, Bits, and Cut Disk
Hot Glue Gun, Glue

Testing equipment:
Multimeter
Luxmeter (light meter)

You may also take this time to review and print the attached diagram which includes a data sheet to be filled out during testing.

Once we have our materials in order we can proceed.

Step 3: Wire Experimental and Control Arrays

We are optimizing for area. Solar cells are easy to come by; space to put them is not. Let's use this novel configuration to maximize our use of space.

What we will be doing is geometrically orienting our solar cells to:
Firstly, capture more of the energy by minimizing losses due to reflection, and additionally, fit more photo-voltaic material in a given space.

The first step is to wire our cells and according to the previous diagram we can fit two traditionally oriented 2x4" cells in an area of 4x4", and with the new orientation design presented here we can fit six 2x4" cells in a space of only 1.5x4".

Our first pair will be our control, the same old solar panel configuration. We'll wire them up in series and signify the leads by attaching appropriately colored wire.

Our next array will be our experimental setup which contains six cells in series as well which will keep current constant for this experiment allowing us to measure variable voltage. Allowing an extra few millimeters in the length of the wire used for your series connections and pre-bending them will avoid binding in the next step. You may also add your output leads to the opposing positive and negative terminals and your wiring will be complete.

Take this opportunity to test for functionality and continuity.

Step 4: Configure Experimental and Control Arrays

Now we will be implementing our knowledge of the nature of light through the use of wave theory, vector analysis and geometry. Sound difficult? It's not.

Light is a wave that reflects. Each time it reflects, some energy is lost and some energy remains. Based on this, we can decide to orient our configuration to that it reflects again and again which will allow us to capture energy again and again from a single ray of light.

First though, we will orient our control set side-by-side just like every solar array you've ever seen before today.

Next, we will produce the experimental array. This can be built according to my specifications or adjusted at your discretion. With our set of six wired cells, we will attach them one at a time with glue. We will pair our cells in "V" shapes with a measured angle of 22.5°, which results in a gap at the open end of 0.5 inches for each pair. This can easily be recalculated for cells of a different dimension. Each "V" should have the solar cells facing inward. We will now attach the three pairs with glue which should result in an overall width of only about 1.5 inches, as shown.

These two arrays can then be tested again, adjusted if necessary and put to the side.

Step 5: Build an Experimental Platform

It is important to have a level, stable and consistent platform to keep all variables constant for experimental purposes. We will be measuring distances from artificial light sources to a high degree of accuracy and placing the platform in natural light which must remain exactingly consistent for accurate results which can be dependably scaled up.

To build this platform we will attach our components to a sheet of plexiglass or other suitable material. First, plan, measure and trace component placement on the sheet based on the supplied diagram. Then, drill holes for wiring and in the corners for mounting and cut holes for your meters. You will want to drill corner holes in both sheets simultaneously for parallelism after the wiring and meter holes have been made in the first sheet.

You may then mount your two solar array configurations side-by-side and upright, on the same tangent with reference to a light source above. Next, mount your voltmeters and wire them accordingly. The meters serve for demonstration purposes but I also incorporated additional leads to attach a multimeter for more accurate experimental readings and better display in bright sunlight.

Once complete, add a nut to your bolts and drop on the sheet with holes in the corners and ensure it is level. This sheet will serve as a bottom cover. Add another nut to secure the bottom sheet and for spacing, then add your top sheet with components mounted and secure it in place.

The experimental platform is now ready to test this new and innovative solar array.




Step 6: Test, Calculate and Optimize

Testing can be performed by the following methods.

This array can be tested laboratorially in the presence of a consistent-lumen light source such as a standard lamp. With a single artificial light source in close proximity, we will test each array independently in order to keep input constant. First, place a light meter on the flat control array, apply constant light and note the lux reading. Then, carefully remove the meter and note the voltage. With low intensity artificial light, your meters may be insufficient and a more accurate powered multimeter may be required to obtain a reading. Then, repeat the process with the experimental array. It is very important to ensure both tests are performed at exactly the same light level. Because the experimental array sits higher, you will need to adjust your light source in order to test at the same lux reading as your control. Once you have reached a lux reading precisely equal to your control test, carefully remove the meter and note the voltage.

You will find that your experimental array produces significantly more power even though it requires only a fraction of the area!

Repeat the process outside in natural high intensity sunlight and the results will be compounded even more!

I have included my test results as well as a blank data sheet for you to use for your own experimentation. To calculate the efficiency increase with respect to area, we will adjust voltage for input variance if necessary, calculate voltage per square inch and simplify which will give us a qualitative result which we'll call our efficacy coefficient

My tests show an improvement of 670%, over six times the energy from the same space!

This technology has the potential to allow for the roof of a single family home to produce enough power for complete energy independence and will result in solar farms being only a fraction of the size and cost. This type of array can be used on electric vehicles with limited space like electric bicycles, electric cars and even to power geosynchronous satellites in space.

Try the experiment for yourself, post your data and photos and then scale it up to power your home, electric car or anything else. Use of this principle in conjunction with modern photo-voltaic cells will result in world record efficiency. Try combining this configuration with a solar tracker and you will be able to harness more solar energy from a square meter than you ever thought possible. Thanks for reading.

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127 Discussions

This idea just came across my desk and it is a helpful way of looking at it. Imagine you have only a small area of yard that gets direct sunlight. Wouldn't you want to maximize that area?

Well, here's how...

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BDANICK

Question 3 months ago

So you have 700% of the panel surface aread, yet net only 670% of power. How low does that percentage get once the light source is not directly over head? How does it compare vs the same number of panels, over a typical day cycle?

I can't tell if this is a joke or not.

1 more answer

This is no joke! Solar panel are getting cheaper but places to put them are not. Great questions! while this configuration produces more energy per square meter, it does require more solar panels. In addition, your observation was astute. Yes, this configuration, in practical application, would need to be used in conjunction with a parabolic reflector or solar tracker. Thanks for checking out the 'ible!

You mentioned that light is a wave, like sound. Do you think that light is a longitudinal or transverse wave?

2 replies

Light waves move transversely. As it can be seen in this experiment, the peaks and troughs are oriented at a right angle to the light's direction of travel.

Thanks for checking out my article. See more at: www.DrewPaulDesigns.com

I have looked at your website, but the articles on there I've looked at so far do not have much in the way of explaining why things work. I don't visit websites I don't know much about, so I haven't used any of the links you posted there.

so just as an additive to this experiment would it be detrimental or additive if you used say a one way mirror in a wider angle array so that the light will filter in from the top and then be bounced of the mirror coating on the opposite side keeping as much light trapped inside as possible but allowing for the lower adjustment of the wider angle?

1 reply

What we find is that solar arrays themselves act as mirrors so, when used in the configuration proposed, they can result in a far greater efficiency with respect to area.

It's true most solar cells convert approximately 10% of the energy striking them to electricity but they definitely do not simply reflect 90% of the photons back off the cell. Any object doing that would appear white or silver.

7 replies

They do! If you look at a flat solar panel at just the right angle, the glare from the sun appears bright white. This is wasted energy! Now, with my newly proposed configuration, we can capture that energy rather than allowing it to reflect way. Thanks for reading and contributing to the conversation!

If this worked NASA probes would look like this... But surprise, they don't. Good luck selling this to anyone :)

This is being researched at the silicon level, which supports his findings.

http://pveducation.org/pvcdrom/surface-texturing/

Scanning electron microscope photograph of a textured silicon surface. (Image courtesy of The School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering, University of New South Wales)

INV_PYR.gif

Fantastic application of the concept. Thanks for sharing. I knew it was only a matter of time before this began to catch on.

JBM7 you are forgetting a few critical points, mainly the increased weight that would have to be taken from potential payload, by doing this which is a no go. NASA instead spends 600 times what we do on photo-voltaic panels so they can have panels around 30% efficient as apposed to our 10ish% More like 8% in my experience.

Give them a few years to catch on. You can't blame them for not thinking of it first; they have a lot on their plate over there. ; ) Thanks for checking out my article!

It may be wasted but it's a tiny fraction of the total energy. It's the same as being at certain angle to a piece of plate glass and looking at the reflection, it is a tiny fraction of the light energy. You are only looking at the light beyond the angle of incidence. If the solar cell is perpendicular to the sun, almost all the energy goes to the cell, 10% is converted.

I appreciate your efforts but I am trying to keep people from looking for a lot of energy where there is very little.

Thanks for sharing but they don't seem to have it quite figured out yet. Maybe I will contact them regarding a consultation. Thanks again.

It a sad story but the Oil and coal companies say Solar cost 15 min cent an KwH were it cost only 5-6 cent a KwH. They lie so they can keep on burning coal and oil. There is enough sun in the deserts of Asia and Africa to power most of Europe.