The Effect on the Electrical Load on the Temperature of the Solar Panel
Dhar, Michael, and Alisa Harvey . “How Do Solar Panels Work?” LiveScience, Purch, 11 Feb. 2022, livescience.com
Additional Project Information
The three measurements used in this experiment are volts, amps, and watts. Volts is the difference in electrical potential, amps is measure of electric flow, and watts is the unit in which electricity is measured. In this experiment, the measure of power is equal to volts multiplied by amps.
When a ray of light hits the silicon solar cell it knocks an electron off and with the help of a conductor, the electron flows into the circuit and generates electricity. The electrical load refers to the energy removed from the solar panel.
- Volt meter
- Amp meter
- Variable resistor
- Light bulb (30 watts)
- Silicon solar cell (2x2cm)
- Hook up wires to machine (thermocouple/voltmeter/amp meter attached to solar cell by wires)
- Set resistor to desired number then wait 40 seconds
- After 40 seconds, record volts, amps, and temperature, and find power
- To find power multiply volts and amps
- Set resistor to another number and repeat
- *SAFETY PRECAUTIONS* DO NOT have water near the experimental setup MAKE SURE to unplug all systems after use
Questions and Answers
1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it?
a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?
b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?
The main objective of my project was to prove my hypothesis, that the higher the electrical load is the lower the solar cell's temperatures will be. After forming my prediction, I was faced with many arguments against my hypothesis. Most arguments claimed that the solar panel's energy would increase because the solar cell is doing more work. Since I disagreed with this statement, I wanted to prove my hypothesis right with indisputable numbers and data.
2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?
a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.
In order to perform and complete my project, I first needed to assemble all my systems. That included connecting the wires of my thermocouple, volt meter and amp meter to a tiny 2x2cm silicon solar cell. After the voltage and amps were measured I needed to find power. To find the power for each trial I multiplied the volts and amps recorded for that trial.
3. What is new or novel about your project?
a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?
b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?
c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?
This experiment was the first time I truly worked with solar cells one on one. I learned about how they worked and the benefits that came with using it. The result of my project was also one that was not expected by most. A majority of predictions I came across claimed that since the solar cell did more work to increase its electrical load (which is true) the temperature would logically heat up therefore increasing the temperature. But according to my results, the temperature decreased because there was now less energy being extracted from the solar cell. The outcome of my project proved that the previous statement was false. It almost goes against logic if you do not think about it carefully.
4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?
a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?
The most challenging part of my project was truly grasping the concept of how a solar panel worked in the first place. It took many weeks to absorb the information I read and be able to explain it in my own terms. This resulted in me almost giving up and choosing a new project topic completely. I overcame this by devoting my time to watching crash courses of solar panels for dummies. It definitely was not the best experience at first but it proved worthwhile in the long run. Overall this project taught me not to give up. I am quite stubborn and it took some self convincing to get over my pride and inability to understand the material at first to persevere and complete the project.
5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?
If I were to do this project again, I would complete it in a more temperature controlled environment. The project was done in my basement, with a colder room temperature and windows. I believe this could of slighted impacted the temperature of the solar cell.
6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects?
Working on this project inspired some future ideas. For instance I find the topic of solar panels more interesting and plane to do more future research. I am also curious as to see if type of light (incandescent, LED, etc) and its electrical load has an effect on the solar cell's temperature.
7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?
During the quarantine of COVID-19, my interest in solar panels peaked. I was motivated to do more research on the functions of a solar panel because I did not have much to do at home. Eventually, with my research and experiment combined I managed to form it into a science project.