Energy Options > Solar Power

need info

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striker:
just looking for info on solar panels.

links would be nice but im just looking for some info like,

wattage per square foot
life span
how much energy it takes just to make them

jack had a show where he talked about it, i think* it was one of the first 20 episodes.

ken:
The correct answer would be "that depends", ha. 

It depends on the type panel, thin film panels produce less power per square foot, but are lower in cost (a trade off).  if you want watts per square foot, then you can take the panels dimensions, calculate the area in ft, meters etc., and determine the number that way.  Typically solar panels are not rated by power per unit area, so you wont see it posted that way.  "Kyocera" makes some nice panels, you can Google to find specifications,  dimensions, power ratings etc, its a starting point.   The actual power you will get will depend on your location (latitude), the ambient temperature (cold days and bright sun will result in higher than rated power being generated), and just how clear your skies really are.

Expected life, most panels now come with a 20-25 year (power output) warranty, depends on the manufacture.  Typically the guarantee says that the panel will produce at least 80 percent of the panels rated power at 20-25 years or be replaced.  So far my panels are all OK, so I only have second hand knowledge of how well they honor the guarantee, so far they seem to be replacing any bad panels.

As far as the energy required to build a panel you can look to older "Home Power", magazines for details.  By the way, you can download a free copy of a recent issue at their home page.  Home Power magazine has published several articles over the years on this topic.  As the technology improves there is less energy used, thin film panels require less energy to make, and the less aluminum you use in the frame the less energy etc. .  The most recent information I have heard is that the panel will generate more power than was required to make the panel within the first two years, something like that.

Hope this helps.

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