Clean Power tenksolar panels

Published on May 4th, 2011 | by Nicholas Brown


tenKsolar Doubles Residential Solar Setup Performance

May 4th, 2011 by  

tenKsolar (not an error, their name starts with a common t on their website) claims that by redesigning solar panels and the way the solar cells inside them are connected to each other, they were able to increase power output by up to 50%, and it is simpler than you may think.

I will need to explain a few things first:

A solar panel is an array of solar cells connected to each other in series, meaning that current flows from one cell, and then through the next, and that continues until it reaches the end of the panel, which is the last cell — then, it flows from the last cell to the charge controller, then the batteries or inverter. If one of an array of even a hundred cells is shaded, then the power output of the entire panel decreases drastically, because the resistance of the cell is so high that less current can flow through the entire array. This also means that current flow after that shaded cell is restricted as well.

It is possible to overcome this issue, but with more complex circuitry. tenKsolar claims that this additional circuitry enables you to harvest the full amount of energy being generated by the solar panels and also from setups onto which sunlight is reflected to enhance power output per panel, resulting in more efficient solar panels.

tenksolar panels

Setups with reflectors like those I just mentioned reflect light unevenly onto solar panels, meaning that some cells receive more light than others depending on the position of the sun. This means that the panels will not generate as much as they should.

An example of a shading situation is when snow falls onto panels. Snow is white, so it blocks far more sunlight than rain does — rain blocks almost none of it. Unless you prudently keep the panels free of snow all winter long, your power output will be far less than it could be. This means that tenKsolar’s technology is most beneficial during winter and in northern climates, as well as in cases in which one cell is damaged.

tenKsolar said that no roof penetration is required due to improved drag resistance and that they can resist up to 90 mph wind, and also that they are lightweight. The system is self-grounded and no additional mounting equipment is required, protecting customers from increases in installation cost.

h/t Technology Review

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Photos via tenKsolar

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • Anonymous

    The picture above doesn’t match the product that tenKsolar is selling as best as I can tell. (In addition, that’s one ugly installation).

    Perhaps tenKsolar has a good solution to partial panel shading, but they’ve got a real snow problem with their panel/reflector design. What they’ve done is created a snow catcher in front of each panel where the snow is going to collect and remain. Unlike other installations there’s nowhere for the snow to slide, it’s going to hang there until it melts.

    If you live somewhere that gets significant snow I can’t see how you can get to the panels to shovel them off.

    And, a smaller issue but worth considering, they’ve created a system which will be hard to clean. Hope they don’t mount some where the blackberries grow. Bird poop doesn’t easily wash off with a hose, takes a little scrubbing….

    • How a product is designed should be driven by the goals of what you are trying to achieve. For distributed generation, output per square foot is key because that relieves the most stress on the energy distribution grid. Thus packing the solar collectors more tightly and using as much available light as possible through reflection to maximize energy per roof is essential.

      Also, if you get a chance to see a design in person, you’ll see there is an area between the module and reflector that allows you to walk along the rows.

      • Anonymous

        I can see from the now-appropriate image that one could carefully walk between the panels and reflectors. Not a labor efficient space for cleaning, but perhaps it is offset by tighter packing of panels.

        Still, snow accumulation is going to be be a problem in places where it snows.

        My panels are ground mounted and I’ve left about a foot between the bottom of the panels and ground. With a normal snow I have to first shovel or walk down the snow below the panels. Then I can start removing snow from the panels. With a larger snowfall I first have to dig down to find the panels.

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