Solar Panels: make the most of the sun

Man does not cease in his eagerness to find new resources that help him to have a better quality of life. That is why we have already begun to use the greatest source of energy on Earth: the Sun. Star that, at first, we saw as a source of life for plants and animals and not as a source of energy for human life.

It was easier for humanity to see fire and water as sources of energy, through even moderately complex processes, than to discover the solar energy.

To take advantage of the sun, sheets or panels are required that are heated by the sun’s rays and then convert that heat into energy, either thermal or electrical.

Counting on this, they have developed various types of solar panels that allow you to get the most out of the sun. This technology provides renewable energy much kinder to the planet than most of the ones we are using.

The idea is that the panels “trap” the sun’s heat and convert it into energy, and if possible, that it can be stored for later use.

Types of solar panels

Currently there are basically two types: some are thermal and others are photovoltaic.

Thermal solar panels

Plates o thermal solar panels, are made up of a group of tubes that make it possible to take advantage of sunlight and transform it into heat. It is the simplest technology in this field and can produce hot water. There are two types of solar collectors, which are known as:

Flat collector

They are made up of a plate of tubes under glass, which receive the sun’s rays and heat the water that circulates through the tubes that are inside the panel. They are the ones most commonly found on the market.

Vacuum tube collector

It is a slightly more advanced technology than that of flat collectors. By means of a cover, they minimize heat loss to the outside, which makes them more efficient. They perform better and are a bit more expensive. There are low, medium and high temperature. It is a technology that continues to evolve.

Photovoltaic solar panels

The photovoltaic modules They are made up of a group of photoelectric cells that transform light into electrical energy.

That is, the photoelectric cells transform photons (light) into electrons (electrical energy). Thus, when the released electrons are captured, an electrical current or electricity is generated.

The fundamental element of which these photoelectric cells are made is silicon. Silicon is a metalloid that is extracted from quartz and is the second most abundant element on Earth, after oxygen. According to the shape of the silicon crystals they contain, there are three types of photoelectric cells:

Amorphous silicon

They are made up of photoelectric cells in which the silicon has not crystallized, which is why they are a very dark gray. These photoelectric cells are used to illuminate gardens and in calculators and “solar” watches.

The amorphous silicon photoelectric cells They were the first to be manufactured, using the same manufacturing method as diodes. They work even on cloudy days, they have a yield of 5 to 7% and are the cheapest of all.


They are made up of photoelectric cells made from a single, large silicon crystal. They are generally a uniform blue color. They have a yield of 14 to 22% and are somewhat more expensive, despite the fact that there are a large number of manufacturers who are dedicated to it.


They are made up of photoelectric cells made up of several silicon crystals. They are bluish in appearance but not uniform, due to the different crystals that make them up.

They have a yield of up to 14% and are cheaper to produce than monocrystallines.


Your main task is convert light into electrical energy, and for this the following occurs:

  • Photons from the sun’s rays hit the surface of the solar panel, penetrating it and being absorbed by the silicon.
  • When the photons hit the silicon atoms in the solar panel, the electrons are released, which circulate through the silicon producing electricity.

Using solar panels

They can be used in different ways and can have various applications as required. Here are some examples:

Standalone applications

Autonomous use is carried out when the panels are not connected to the network and work to supply, with energy or heat, the place where they are located.

Some examples of these standalone applications are:

  • Generation of electricity for the self-sufficiency of:
    • Homes or buildings in urban or rural areas
    • Garden lighting
    • Telecommunications antennas
    • Street lighting
    • Parking meters
  • Heating generation for self-supply of:
    • Homes or buildings in urban or rural areas
    • Air conditioning of public or private swimming pools
  • Production of sanitary hot water for human use.
  • Production of energy for satellites or space stations in orbit, in the space industry.

Network Applications

The use in the network is the one that is carried out when it is necessary to be able to distribute the energy that is produced to other places or larger places.

They may need to be connected to the country’s electricity distribution network or to existing networks, such as solar gardens or photovoltaic buildings.

These network applications are normally located in larger areas than autonomous applications, and meet the needs of buildings already prepared for the management of solar energy.


Here are some of the advantages of solar panels:

  • The most obvious of the advantages is that they are capable of transforming the sun’s rays into electricity or heating.
  • They are an inexhaustible source of renewable energy.
  • They are a way of producing clean energy, since they do not need combustion or chemical processes for their operation.
  • Its placement and operation does not emit any substance that pollutes the atmosphere, does not produce greenhouse gases or pollute water.
  • They do not generate any type of waste or residue that needs to be stored for later disposal.
  • They do not produce noise pollution, since its operation is totally silent.
  • Solar energy can be obtained anywhere, even in the most remote places.
  • In places difficult to access for other energy sources, energy can be obtained through this method.
  • The areas where the panels are located can be small or large, as they are adapted to the supply needs for which they are manufactured.
  • They are relatively easy to install and do not require laborious or complicated maintenance.
  • They usually have a useful life that ranges from 10 to 20 years.
  • The best places to take advantage of solar energy are warm areas.

They are part of the renewable energy sector, so they offer great development opportunities, as there is still much to do with this technology. Surely, it is an area that will have many advances and will generate jobs and bring development to the communities that adopt this energy on a daily basis.


Here are some of its disadvantages:

  • They produce visual impact, which can be considered a disadvantage for certain natural landscapes.
  • In the facilities where they are located, large amounts of water are needed to clean them.
  • The waste materials resulting from their manufacture can be toxic.
  • They may require large spaces for their installation.
  • Deserts are fragile ecosystems in relation to the production of water that need this type of facilities for proper maintenance.
  • For the selection of the ideal places to place the panels, geographical factors must be considered, such as: the variation in the reception of solar rays and their angle of incidence on the earth’s surface.
  • They are not as effective in places where there is less sun.
  • Deserts are, normally, sparsely populated places, so it is necessary to consider how to resolve the transmission of this energy over long distances to the populated centers.
  • Solar panel technology is not supported by the large electricity generating companies, basically due to competition issues.
  • Its placement may require a high initial investment because it is still a technology in development.

There are few countries where this technology is implemented and, in some cases, it does not represent even 0.2% of the energy produced, as is the case in Spain. Many of these disadvantages can disappear if you plan well where and how to place the panels. Which would give greater weight to its advantages.

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