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Solar Panels

Solar Panel Layers

Solar Panel Layers

I’m pretty sure everyone knows what solar panels are by now. They’re panels used to convert solar energy/radiation into electrical energy for use. There are many different types of solar panels; I will be explaining the most commonly used one: the crystalline silicon solar panels.

First, a solar panel contains many layers. The outer layers are made from glass or plastic to protect the other layers inside of it. It may contain UV enhancement film to increase the UV radiation intensities from the sun (for more energy). Within the glass, there are conductive layer(s)  and photovoltaic cells. Usually, the photovoltaic cells are made from silicon. The silicon contains two layers made from two other elements; one layer with too many electrons and one layer that has too little electrons.

As said before, solar panels contain a bunch of semiconductors, called photovoltaic cells or solar cells, which convert sunlight to electricity. When light particles (called photons) hit the surface of the panels, the layer with too many electrons loses some of its electrons. The loose electrons are then released as an electric current which is sent through the layer with too little electrons to an external load to store the energy. The electrons then return to the layer with too many electrons (as it’s now missing electrons) and then the process continues as the external load continues to store energy.

On average, crystalline silicon solar panels are only capable of converting 12-20% of the solar radiation to electrical energy (the first solar panels were only capable of converting 3% of solar radiation). The process of converting electrical energy is too slow and expensive, which is possibly the reason in which why solar panels are used less compared to other forms of energy generation such as Pico-Hydro and wind-turbine generators.


Rocket Stove to the Sky

Rocket Stoves (rocket mass heaters) are heaters; they heat the house. They’re “super efficient furnaces.”

FURNACES INFORMATION: The efficiency of furnaces is measured in AFUE, which is a number that shows the percentage in efficiency (A greater AFUE results in a greater efficiency). High efficiency furnaces range from 90 to 97%, while low efficiency furnaces range from 80Image% and less.

90-97% is already pretty efficient for a furnace, so how can rocket stoves beat that? I don’t even know. The efficiency of rocket stoves haven’t been professionally analyzed yet, so there’s not really a specific number that shows it; not in the AFUE (if someone can tell me otherwise, please do! I’ve been looking for an answer from many sites now, but I can’t seem to find a proper answer). Guaranteed however, rocket stoves are a very efficient way to heat up one’s house (efficient as in the amount of fuel – wood – put in will bring you a lot of heat, and for a long time too – which is up to 4 days).

In the picture on the right: Wood and oxygen go in on one side to be burned in the burn chamber and then transferred into the steel drum. The steel drum brings out some of the heat directly out into the house for immediate heating, while the rest of the heat is transferred through a long, airtight duct to keep the heat circulating around the house to have constant heating. The duct is usually covered with clay, mud, stone and many other materials and then covered with a ceramic spray to keep everything together. This clump of clay, mud and stone (and many more materials) that covers the duct can be used a furniture; a couch; a bed; a table; anything.

This is the only website I’ve seen so far that sells rocket mass heaters:

A rocket mass heater in real life

Functions for a Cabin (and any other house)

Wouldn’t it be nice to escape from the city; go to somewhere quiet and secluded; to be one with nature. I’m not talking about a camping trip; more like a cabin in the woods.

To be one with nature; you gotta have the look: Those new-looking houses won’t really fit in the whole “nature” theme and it won’t really fit in middle of a bunch of trees either. The overall look of the cabin has to be rustic, with mainly from Victorian-style aesthetics (your choice actually; it’s just that I’d prefer Victorian-style over other rustic designs) with additional adjustments from our new-day technology, such as having side-sliding windows and electricity generating systems like wind turbine generators or pico-hydro generators so that we’ll do as little harm to the environment as possible (net zero energy footprint, net zero carbon footprint…). The cabin (and any other house) would need to have these functions:

volumetric space design – smartly using the space given to us, including space for sleeping, the living room and a bathroom (in this case, a small cabin would be around 500 square feet)

energy system – a way to generate, distribute and store energy for use (for small things like lighting or the composting toilet)

water system – to gather, store and distribute water (this includes having a rain barrel and having a grey-water system. A greywater system is something that reuses the water that’s used for bathing, washing hands or from the toilet for use for watering plants – NOT FOR DRINKING)

waste management system – get rid of all types of waste, like human excreta and compost. Food wrappers and other non-compostable things should be carried out with you back to the city to be disposed of there (includes things like a composting toilet and a composting area)

climate control system – keeps the temperature warm during cold temperatures and cool during hot temperatures

This site shows a bunch of cool looking cabins like the one on this post: