Concentrating Light onto a Solar Panel
Some solar cells will work better when solar energy is concentrated onto its surface. Solar collectors use special lenses, mirrors, and mirrored dishes to concentrate sunlight onto a solar panel. In some cases this means that a smaller sized solar panel can be used to get more power. One drawback is that collectors must track the sun more exactly than a solar panel by itself.
If you are under 18 years old, get permission from an adult to do this experiment.
Science Fair Project Idea/ Objective:
To determine if concentration of sun on a solar panel can increase the power the panel generates. You will develop this idea by reflecting additional light onto a solar panel with a home made reflector.
The power from a solar panel can be increased if the concentration of sun rays that hit it is increased.
- Solar Panel
- Multi-meter to measure Milli-Amps.
- Aluminum Foil or mirror
- Paper and pencil
Schematic: (large image)
- Get a square sheet of aluminum foil about 6 inches by 6 inches or use a small mirror.
- Find a sunny spot outside.
- This experiment can be done more effectively when the Sun is not directly overhead. Try it early or late in the day when the Sun is low in the sky.
- Connect the ammeter to the solar panel and set the solar panel on a flat surface. Set the ammeter output so that it will read milli-amps (mA).
- Set up your equipment. Lay the solar panel on a flat surface so that it is facing straight up and keep it in the same position for all of your experiments.
- Make sure that you are facing the Sun and the solar panel is in front of you.
- Begin your testing by measuring the output of the solar cell in full sun without any concentrating rays. Record the mA reading from your ammeter.
- Use your foil or mirror to reflect extra sunlight onto your solar panel. Record the mA reading from your ammeter.
If done correctly you should see an increase in the output of the solar cell when you concentrate more sunlight onto it.
- Get measurements of the solar panel output in full Sun. On a cloudy day use your concentrator on the solar panel to see if you can increase the output to be equal or better than the output of the panel on a sunny day.
- On a sunny day set up your solar panel and meter in the shade. See if you can use your concentrator or mirror to reflect Sunlight onto the panel and cause an increase of output.