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Solar Power 101

What are the four common types of solar panels?
 


Mono-Crystalline:
  • This is the technology GOAL ZERO employs
  • 11-22% Efficient
  • Most efficient and very reliable.
  • Lifespan 10 - 30 years
  • Highest wattage per square foot
  • Made from single silicon crystals
  • Perform best in the most conditions (light & temperature)
  • Performs well in low light conditions.


Poly-Crystalline:
Amorphous:
CIGS:
  • 8-15% Efficient
  • Made from multi-crystal silicon
  • Looks like Fish Scales or shattered glass
  • Simpler manufacturing process
  • 5-6% Efficient
  • Old technology
  • Weak: Break Easily
  • Nice Looking
  • Rigid
  • Work well in shady conditions
  • Typical use: solar calculator
  • 5-10% Efficient
  • Flexible
  • More Expensive
  • Bigger Size
  • Easy to manufacture


How are GOAL ZERO solar panels made?

Monocrystalline (or single cell) silicon solar panels are made by cutting very thin wafers or discs from silicon rods that have been grown from a single crystal. Wafers are then processed into individual cells that are wired together in two layers. The bottom layer of silicon is positively charged and the top layer of silicon is negatively charged.
 

How is solar energy collected and stored?

The solar panel is a collection of individual silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight. When the sunlight hits the panel electrons get excited and move from layer to the next creating electricity. A single solar cell produces only about .5 of a volt.
 

What does it mean when you say 11 - 22% efficient?

In North America, the sun produces about 1,000 Watts per square meter during the hottest part of a summer day. Efficiency tells you how much of that solar energy will be converted into electricity. A square meter of solar panel that is 11 - 22% efficient will produce a maximum of approximately 110 -220 Watts of electricity.
 

What is electrical power?

We use electrical power every day to run devices from heaters and coolers to laptops and cell phones. It is delivered over metal wires. Batteries provide DC power. Power companies provides AC power. Electrical power is measured as wattage, and described by voltage and current.
 

What is wattage?

A watt is an electrical unit of power. Wattage is the result of volts x amps. For instance 5 volts x 2 amps = 10 watts

What is voltage and current?

Similar to water flowing through a pipe, voltage is the pressure of the water and current is the amount of flow. These two terms multiplied together give the total amount of power. Voltage is measured in Volts and Current is measured in Amps.
 

What does AC Power and DC Power mean?

Electrical power is delivered in two ways: Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). Direct Current is electricity that moves in one direction. Alternating Current moves back and forth.

Direct Current (DC) is the only electrical power that can be stored in a battery. To change from DC to AC you need an inverter. This allows you to store energy in a battery and use an inverter to have AC power like a wall plug.
 

Why do we have DC power?

Most devices require DC power. Batteries produce DC power naturally. The cigarette outlet in your car provides 12 volt DC power from your car's battery.
 

Why do we have AC power?

More efficient to deliver over long distances. Safer at higher voltages. Power companies deliver AC power for these reasons. The wall outlets in your home are 110 volt AC power (220 volt for international)
 

How is AC converted to DC?

Power supply, power converter, power brick, wall wart, wall adapter, etc. These are all terms for the external block that comes with many devices. It converts AC to DC. Sometimes it is built in.

How is DC converted to AC?

An "inverter" converts DC to AC. This backwards-sounding term is used for historical reasons because of the way AC was originally created from DC.
 

How efficient is the AC/DC conversion?

There is typically 20-30% loss each time you convert power between AC and DC. You will longer run times from your laptop, for example, if you can run it from DC power directly.
 

What is an inverter?

An inverter converts DC power from a battery into AC power for a wall socket.
 

What are watt-hours?

Watt-hours (Wh) is an amount of power (in watts) expended in 1 hour. For instance, 120 watt hour power pack will run a 3 watt light bulb for 40 hours. (120/3=40)
 

What are the different battery types GOAL ZERO uses?
LEAD-ACID (LA): NICKEL-METAL HYDRIDE (NiMH) LITHIUM IRON PHOSPHATE (LiFePO4)
  • Cycles: 500 - 800
  • Watts/Kg: 180
  • Don't Leak
  • Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) construction which enhance both the discharge and recharge efficiency.
  • Heavy
  • Store well
  • Ideally if stored plugged in to a wall outlet
  • Cycles: 500-1,000
  • Watts/Kg: 250 - 1000
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • No memory issues
  • Commonly uses in rechargeable batteries
  • Cycles: 2000
  • Watts/Kg: 300
  • Longer cycles and calendar life
  • Most Enviro-friendly than other lithium base batteries
  • Excellent temperature range
  • Safest lithium base battery
  • No memory issues
  • Small size and lightweight

Goal Zero employs this type of battery in our Extreme 350 & Escape 150

Goal Zero employs this type of battery in our Guide 10 batteries

Goal Zero employs this type of battery in our Sherpa batteries

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