How to boost any solar panel output by 75%

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by Doddy999, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. Doddy999

    Doddy999 Read Only Funster

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    Thought this might be of interest to some, I know its only useful if
    on a site for a long while, but thought I'd share it.


    How to boost any solar panel output by



    75%

    Solar panels are a great way to make some green electricity for your home or workplace but they''re kind of expensive and sometimes the wattage produced can be a bit disappointing. If you use a sun tracking system to keep your solar panels facing the sun you can considerably improve the watt yield but these are not cheap and on a small system they can add considerably to the cost.

    Here''s a really cost effective and simple way to get 75% more power from any ordinary solar panel.

    The theory:
    Most of the time a solar panel is working well below peak power, on hazy days and when the sun is lower in the sky, early morning, late afternoon for example. The light levels are just not high enough, so to boost the light level I tried aligning a mirror to reflect more light onto my solar panel. It worked really well and after a bit of experimentation I found that placing a mirror at least twice the size of the solar panel on the ground in front of the panel could boost the output by as much as 75%.

    [​IMG]

    Using a bigger mirror can reflect light onto your panel over a longer period during the day so you don't need to track the sun, just face your panel and mirror due south.

    The practise:
    I bought a really cheap solar panel for £10.00 to test this idea, below are some pictures showing what I did and the meter readings just to show that it really does work. Pictured below is the 1.5w solar panel facing south just placed on a wood board to stop the grass shading the panel. The meter is showing 0.07 amps, that's approximately 0.84 watts, it's late October and even on a very sunny day the panel is only producing just over half it''s peak power.
    [​IMG]

    In the picture below you can see how the mirror reflects light onto the solar panel. The panel produced 0.12 amps, about 1.44 watts, very close to the maximum rated output for this panel.
    [​IMG]

    If you use a large mirror there is no need to align it to reflect light onto the solar panel just drop it on the ground in front of the panel for an instant 75% power boost.

    Conclusions:
    This is probably one of the cheapest and easiest ways to boost the power of a small solar panel, but this method does have some limitations:

    • You can use more mirrors to reflect more light onto the solar panel and increase it's power further but on a sunny summers day the extra light can build up a lot of heat that may damage the panel. In July I had my 1.5w panel running at double its rated power for twenty minutes, it got so hot you couldn't touch it!
    • Placing mirrors either side of the panel to reflect doesn't work well because as the sun moves west it will cast a shadow across the panel. The only place that the mirror won't cast a shadow at any time in the day is on the ground in front of the solar panel.
    • On a dull day the mirror doesn't give much of a power boost at all, I tested a panel on a dull day in October; it produced 1% of its rated power, adding a mirror made no difference.
    • If you're concerned about having sheets of glass lying on the ground you could use polished metal instead, I found it nearly as good as mirror glass.
    • This method probably won't work if you have solar panels mounted on your roof, for obvious reasons.
    Doing the math:
    Currently solar panels cost around £4.00 per watt so that makes a 20w panel about £80.00. A 75% increase in power is the equivalent of a 35w solar panel, which would cost about £140.00, that''s a saving of £60.00. Or a cost per watt of around £2.30 OK you have to find a mirror or polished sheet of metal but still it's a huge saving.

    Developing a low cost solar panel tracking system would further boost the efficiency but getting more light onto a solar panel on an overcast day could have the most potential benefit. I'll continue to test a few different panels with different set-ups and post the results below.
     
  2. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    Good post...Thanks it has given me thought regarding thin sheets of stainless steel and a system of angling the solars to the sun.:thumb:
    With the solar system I have maybe I could sell some extra power therefor boosting my meagre income...how about it folks.
     
  3. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Based on the mirror to panel size theory, where can I get a 14 foot by eight foot mirror 3 of:RollEyes:
     
  4. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

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    How to boost any solar panel outout by 75%

    You need to polish up your roof - what better!!

    S
     
  5. Doddy999

    Doddy999 Read Only Funster

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    Put in a Bright idea then:Wink:
    Sorry I can see where this is going :Laughing:
     
  6. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

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    How to boost any solar panel outout by 75%

    Stainless roof, angle adjustable solar panel like the TV ariels (can be done manually from inside) and bobs your uncle :BigGrin:

    That will give somone something to work on, and in the summer you can just leave it flat on the roof.

    Simples!!

    S
     
  7. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Most panels are roof mounted so no good ..

    To boost power by 75% .. buy 75% more panels

    or hinge panels and install a lazy susan tracking device .. downside is that this is expensive also advertises you have them.. Money better spent on first option.

    or buy an Airstream van
     
  8. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    What about that club you go to where the young ladies dance around those shiny Acro type things.

    Whoops!! Pammy doesn't know about that does she, sorry.

    Graham


    :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  9. harryoxford2

    harryoxford2 Read Only Funster

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    Imagine the scene

    There we all are sat in out deck chairs when a pretty lady in a short skirt comes over to examine our solar panels.....that mirror is gonna get us all into so much trouble....

    My own contribution for those who have flat solar panels on the roof of an american rv with jacks....

    a new firmware download from windows will let you programme the self leveling device to extend the legs whilst shirnking the others and the vehicle will tilt towards the sun and track it thereby gaining 40% more power...and multiple split cups of tea....

    watching the thread with interest as I contemplating the solar route too.

    regards
    Harry
     
  10. movan

    movan Funster Life Member

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    What about those very very lightweight mirrors, that arn't mirrors, that you get in garden centres for in the garden to put on the fences to make your garden look like it goes on forever.
     
  11. W18BLA

    W18BLA Funster

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    Tin Foil.....:Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  12. harryoxford2

    harryoxford2 Read Only Funster

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    not taking the p

    I promise im not taking the p but this thread is probably the start of a revolution as to getting more ummph out of solar.

    OK my tilting rv jacks was but this isnt..its just a loose idea,
    you know how photographers have collapsable lighting umbrellas, well if the solar panel was mounted even inside some sort of curved device much like a sat dish reflects the signal, then the curved brolley could reflect light into the panel.
    We could be onto something here,
     
  13. movan

    movan Funster Life Member

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    Arry, if yer wants a new business partner, man.... we sure cud do summat wiv this one...:Smile:

    Huh .. tin foil indeed.:RollEyes:
     
  14. Taran_Las

    Taran_Las Funster

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    Do you mean the ones that then display twice as many weeds?:Laughing:


    Phil
     
  15. movan

    movan Funster Life Member

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    They are the one Phil.... or if like me you have a barbecue and someone gives you a tipple, you walk up the path and think 'who is that woman walking towards me?' .......:Doh:
     
  16. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    sorry 'arry , someone beat you to it ... don't call a Dragon just yet :Sad:

    [​IMG]
     
  17. keithfal

    keithfal Read Only Funster

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    And they must be marketing it already

    We spent a few days at Camaret sur mer:Smile: recently on their big aire and whilst the average guy had a flat or slightly tilted solar panel the big un on the pitch opposite our lounge window had a piece of kit that raised and lowered his panel and rotated it automatically to follow the sun from morn til nightfall. At least I assume it was automatic - he might just have been enjoying being sat inside with a winding handle!:Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  18. harryoxford2

    harryoxford2 Read Only Funster

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    new business partner...

    Ok young lady im game, and with Jims development...he built the prototype out of sticky back plastic and fairy liquid bottles....we have a third partner.

    Jim developed the device by taking a aaa charging cell and a dish scafolding from Jordrell Bank. He covered the Dish with mirrors from a garden retail outlet but they didnt have enuff to cover the whole dish.

    The reflective capacity in kilogewlohmvolts/perhour.discharge/fequency is 34000 million megbitmillimeterwatts.

    Jim has trialed the device and can now charge is aaa from flat to nuclear in 0.000000000000000000000000000000005 nanoseconds.

    Never ever again will Jim have to get up and switch his tele over manually safe in the knowledge that when the aaa for his remote fails again it will take less time to recharge the battery than actually switching over by hand.

    I think this has been a successful project especially as the unit is highly portable roof mounted, however a truck type sat nav will be needed...please set the new height of your vehicle at 450 feet...its a tricky one too because 450 is so near444 which as we all know is the standard clearance for the golden gate bridge at san fran and the sydney harbour bridge at....ohh..at...its on the tip of me tounge...its somewhere anyways.

    Good luck to all..at long last free power for all.

    Breaking news....the Space Center have agreed to launch a limited number of these dishes for funster members at a discount of 67billion per person. The dish will be effortlessly suspended in space and your motorhome will look no different to anyone elses (apart from the thin wire leading skywards.) (( the code is Salsa Dancer for the discount))

    On a first come first served basis the first 12 members to pm me get what we call a Really really High..Sky Satalite.Spares will be on sale at Halfords in June 65..thats 2065.

    I think a pat on the back to us all for solving the aaa battery situation is well deserved.
     
  19. Munchie

    Munchie Funster Life Member

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    Another nutter in the making? :Rofl1:
     
  20. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    in the making ?

    he has a pHD in Nuttery ... barking mad... and then some :Laughing:
     
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