Solar Information For Students

Solar “101”

The rays of the sun can be converted for many useful purposes, like generating electricity, lighting, heating or powering mechanical devices. Sunlight can even be used for cooling.

  • Photovoltaic Cell — An electronic device that converts energy from the sunlight into direct current electricity. Assemblies of cells are used to make solar modules, or photovoltaic arrays, which generate electricity. For household use, direct current is converted to alternating current through the use of an inverter.
  • Active Solar Thermal – The use of fans or pumps to convert solar energy into usable heat or cooling. Active solar technologies move air, water or antifreeze, carrying solar energy where it’s needed, for example, from the roof to a water heater.
  • Passive Solar Design – Design concept which captures sunlight for its heat energy without use of active mechanical systems. Common example is a solarium on the sunny side of a building. Passive solar pool heaters very cost-effective.
  • Solar and Hybrid Lighting- The sun’s rays can be stored using PV and batteries, as in landscape lights, or transferred directly through optical fibers. Hybrids collect sunlight and distribute it through fibers to special fixtures where it is blended with artificial light and regulated for brightness.
  • Concentrated Solar Thermal Power– Using the sun to produce electricity by concentrating the heat to boil water or another liquid, then using the steam to rotate a turbine, powering a generator.