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Thread: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar panels

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    Ohm_Boy's Avatar
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    13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar panels

    Guy sees Fibonacci seq in trees, sets up experiments, develops more efficient arrangement for solar panels. He's 13 years old.

    http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youn ... aidan.html
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Wow. I love his idea and the possibility of seeing solar-trees in the area would be a sight. Energy cost could be a lot lower if we all tried to grasp these ideals.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Yeah, this kid is fairly impressive. I'm reasonably sure that when I was 13, I could barely see a pattern in the sun coming up each day.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohm_Boy
    Yeah, this kid is fairly impressive. I'm reasonably sure that when I was 13, I could barely see a pattern in the sun coming up each day.
    LOL! "Wow, it came up east again today....does it always do that??" I'm with you though...very, very impressive for a 13 year old. Heck, that would be impressive for collegiate level, I would think.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    I wonder if he got the idea from here:

    October 15, 2008 11:59 AM PDT

    Open Energy makes solar panels and this nature-inspired solar collector. Although it also has an aesthetic appeal, the product was designed to maximize light intake in a small space, like a tree does with its leaves.
    http://news.cnet.com/2300-13840_3-6247072-8.html


    I also think that his method is fundamentally flawed. He measured voltage when he should have been measuring power.
    My idea was to track how much sunlight each model collected under the same conditions by watching how much voltage each model made.

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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW
    I wonder if he got the idea from here:

    October 15, 2008 11:59 AM PDT

    Open Energy makes solar panels and this nature-inspired solar collector. Although it also has an aesthetic appeal, the product was designed to maximize light intake in a small space, like a tree does with its leaves.
    http://news.cnet.com/2300-13840_3-6247072-8.html


    I also think that his method is fundamentally flawed. He measured voltage when he should have been measuring power.
    [quote:2tkf6ef6]My idea was to track how much sunlight each model collected under the same conditions by watching how much voltage each model made.
    [/quote:2tkf6ef6]


    Ehhh, maybe, maybe not. I'm going to go with the kid on this one.

    BTW, you can't have power without voltage, if I remember Ohm's Law correctly.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    You can have power with a waterwheel. Or a gun. Can't have ELECTRICAL power without voltage.
    Ohm's Law - words to live by.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeInTN
    BTW, you can't have power without voltage, if I remember Ohm's Law correctly.
    Yes, however, voltage is not the same thing as power, and power is what matters. Measuring just voltage is not a valid test of a generator.

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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Well, technically, it is directly related to power, if there is a consistent load on the panel.
    P=E^2/R, so with a given resistance, the power is proportional to the square of the voltage. The meter itself presents a load resistance, and it is generally consistent over the measurement range.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    If the internal resistance of the generator is high, then a high voltage does not imply high power since any significant current draw can significantly drop the voltage. This is what happens (chemically) when batteries get weaker. A seemingly dead battery need not be at near-zero voltage. Even though it can appear to be at 80% of its full voltage, putting any reasonable load on the battery can cause the voltage to plummet and the power output to be very low.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    This is true, and the internal resistance of these generators (PV Cells) is going to be considerably less than that of the meter, if there is no additional load. All other things being equal, more light yielding more voltage will equate to more power.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    When measuring open circuit voltage, there is no current flowing, and therefore, no power. Voltage is only weakly dependent on light intensity whereas current is more closely related to light intensity.

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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    There is always current flowing through the meter. It ain't much, but it is there.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan



    http://www.mtmscientific.com/solarpanel.html

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW
    I also think that his method is fundamentally flawed. He measured voltage when he should have been measuring power.
    I think that my original point is valid. Measuring only voltage is not the proper way to measure the output potential of different solar panel configurations.

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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Measuring voltage is just fine if you have some plausible fixed resistive load. The article is consistent with the possibility that there was such a load, though it never mentions if there was or not.
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    You guys are giving me a headache !!! Active and Passive Networks was the absolute worst class I took in college!!!! ACK !! I'll take Strength of Materials or Statics and Dynamics any day !!!
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    In the photo with the article, the boy's fixed panel has 10 collectors and the tree-arrangement seems to have 16...
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    You guys are giving me a headache !!! Active and Passive Networks was the absolute worst class I took in college!!!! ACK !! I'll take Strength of Materials or Statics and Dynamics any day !!!
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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Quote Originally Posted by loop_pea
    In the photo with the article, the boy's fixed panel has 10 collectors and the tree-arrangement seems to have 16...
    Yes, it does seem as though the tree has more solar cells than the flat panel.

    Perhaps the awards committee placed more emphasis on concept than on execution or technical merit.

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    Re: 13 yr old finds more efficient arrangement for solar pan

    Quote Originally Posted by ivyleager
    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    You guys are giving me a headache !!! Active and Passive Networks was the absolute worst class I took in college!!!! ACK !! I'll take Strength of Materials or Statics and Dynamics any day !!!
    I'll take Rocks for Jocks for $200, Alex......
    ROFLMAO !!!!!
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