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Solar Power: Fad or Fantastic?

Solar power has been around for a long time now – decades, in fact – but for a lot of people it still feels a little like science fiction. To be sure, there are some applications for which solar power is a slam dunk, particularly when it comes to providing auxiliary power to various things like cars, houses and buildings. But, what about consumer products that rely on solar cells to keep them going, especially as a primary source of power? Well, it depends on a few factors: <strong>1. The quality of the solar panel.</strong> This is a big one. Solar panels (and the cells from which they are comprised) are a lot like any other electronic device in that they vary in quality. Some can absorb direct sunlight for a week straight and be able to power a 60-watt light bulb for all of an hour, while others can crank out the juice faster than a Ferrari on jet fuel. Unfortunately, solar panels – at least those used on consumer products – are not rated. That means using reviews and doing research are going to be your best bets in avoiding duds. <strong>2. The amount of sun.</strong> It seems obvious, but there are a lot of gray areas here, so to speak. Some panels need full-on direct sunlight, while others can pick up the solar energy that penetrates the clouds on days when the sun doesn’t even “come out.” One could argue this is also related to the quality of the panel, and to some degree it is, but it also has to do with design and utility. The most expensive solar cell in the world may be the one that performs the best, but that’s not the one they’re going to put in your travel clock because then it’d cost too much to buy. <strong>3. Expectations vs. the reality of performance.</strong> Here is the number-one thing that can really spoil your solar-panel joy. There’s nothing worse than having high hopes for your new (insert favorite solar-powered doodad) and you can’t get it to work even though it’s a billion degrees outside and solar flares are threatening to scorch the very face of the Earth. But … buuuuuuuut … wait a minute. How long did you let it charge? And, how long is that charge supposed to last? Finally, how much will conversion efficiency degrade over time? These are the things you need to consider before assuming your new solar-powered boom box will keep the party going all night long after a partly cloudy day. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes these tips help you pick the solar-power supply that’s perfect for your next sunny adventure.
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