Gardening is a wonderful pastime, and one that can take place throughout the year if you have a greenhouse. However, these can take up a lot of energy when it comes to keeping them at optimal temperatures and running various devices and pumps within them. Recently, an increasing number of people in the gardening community have been investing in solar panels for their greenhouses, improving their environmental footprint and also keeping their plants happy and healthy.
Types of Panel for Greenhouses
You can use pretty much any kind of solar panel for greenhouses. The main solar panel materials are made from silicon and have varying levels of efficiency as well as variations in price. Here are the three types as well as a little extra information on each.
Monocrystalline solar cells are made from what is known as single crystalline silicon. They are distinctive in appearance due to their dark colour and cylindrical shape. To keep the costs low and the performance levels optimal, manufacturers will cut off the four sides of these cells, giving them their recognisable appearance.
Here are some of the advantages of monocrystalline solar cells:
- They have the highest level of efficiency at 15-20%
- They require less space compared to other types due to their high efficiency
- Manufacturers state that this form of solar cell lasts the longest, with most giving them a 25-year warranty
- They perform better in low levels of sunlight, making them ideal for cloudy areas
Here are some of the disadvantages to monocrystalline solar cells:
- They are the most expensive solar cells on the market, and so not in everyone’s price range
- The performance levels tend to suffer from an increase in temperature. However, it is a small loss when compared to other forms of solar cell
- There is a lot of waste material when the silicon is cut during manufacture
Polycrystalline cells were first introduced to the general public in 1981. Unlike monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells to not need any of their sides to be cut. Instead of this, the silicon is melted and poured into square moulds, forming perfectly square shapes.
Here are some of the advantages of polycrystalline solar cells:
- The manufacturing process is cheaper and easier than the monocrystalline cells
- It avoids silicon waste
- High temperatures have less negative effects on efficiency compared with monocrystalline cells. This makes the polycrystalline cells more attractive to people in warmer areas as the price is lower
Here are some of the disadvantages to polycrystalline solar cells:
- Efficiency is only around 13-16% due to low levels of silicon purity. So, they are not the most efficient on the market
- They have lower output rates which make them less space efficient. So, more roof space is needed for installation
Thin film solar cells are made by placing several thin layers of photovoltaic on top of each other to create the cells that make up the module. There are several different types of thin film solar cells, and the ways in which they differ tend to come down to the material used in the layers. Here are the types:
- Amorphous silicon
- Cadmium telluride
- Copper indium gallium selenide
- Organic PV cells
The efficiency rates for thin film solar cells will depend on the technology that is being used. The rates will tend to vary from 7% to 13%, and since 2002, the knowledge and popularity of these cells have risen dramatically. This also means that there have been increases in research and development. As a result, we can expect models to hold efficiency rates of 10-16%
It is also possible to use transparent solar panels. These are a new technology that has been created by Polysolar UK, and they aim to replace windows with slightly tinted solar panels. These are slightly more efficient than your typical thin film solar cell, but also less efficient than the two crystalline forms.
A completely clear form of this solar panel is also in development by Polysolar, and they have managed to create them on a very small scale. Full production for these is expected to start in 2018, which is exciting news for those who would like to replace the glass in their greenhouses with something completely solar.
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The Advantages of a Solar Greenhouse
There are actually several benefits to transforming your greenhouse into one that is solar powered. Here they are for you to take a look at:
- It lessens your carbon footprint and environmental impact on the planet
- You can save money on heating your greenhouse and keep it at an optimal temperature. Usually, this is around 30-40% of your bill
- It can actually lead to better tasting fruits and vegetables throughout the year due to the natural source of energy
- Helps you to build and maintain a consistently warm temperature and does not add heat to the area
- They can be quite easy to install
- If you select transparent solar panels, then they could actually work out cheaper than conventional ones
- They can aid in cooling if designed and installed correctly
- Anyone can use and operate the system as it is incredibly easy to learn
- Requires little to no maintenance
Here are some of the ways you can improve the efficiency of your greenhouse solar panels:
- Try to ensure that the panels are south facing
- Make sure they are correctly angled to receive sunlight
- Ensure your greenhouse is well insulated
- Make sure there is no shade covering the panels
Want to Know More?
Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.
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