Power generators automatically provide power to your home within seconds in the event that there is an interruption of power from the main source, and works until the main source is restored. Generators also provide specific return on investment in various ways:
- Reducing cost during outages
- Supporting critical infrastructure
- Avoiding lost wages
Solar power started in 1876, William Grylls Adams and Richard Day came up with this invention. They discovered selenium which when exposed to light, produces electricity but selenium cells were not efficient.
In 1953, Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin, discovered the silicon solar cell. that produced enough electricity to efficiently run small electrical devices. During the year 1956 the first solar cells are available commercially. The cost, however, is far from the reach of everyday people. At $300 for a 1 watt solar cell, the expense was far beyond anyone’s means. In 1956 started showing us the first solar cells used in toys and radios.
In late 1959 and early 1960s satellites in the USA and Soviet space programs were powered by solar cells, and in the late 1960s, solar power was basically the standard for powering space bound satellites.
In the early 1970s a way to lower to cost of solar cells was discovered. This brought the price down from $100 per watt to around $20 per watt.
Today we see solar cells in a wide variety of places. You may see solar powered cars. There is even a solar powered aircraft that has flown higher than any other aircraft with the exception of the Blackbird. With the cost of solar cells well within everyone’s budget, solar power has never looked so tempting.
Electrical energy can be harvested by means of either photovoltaics or concentrated solar power systems. In photovoltaics, when materials are exposed to light they absorb photons and release electrons. This phenomenon is called photoelectric effect and solar cells are made basing on photovoltaic effect. They convert sunlight into direct current. Number of photovoltaic cells are mounted due to single cell does not produce enough electricity connected to each other to form a solar panel ranging from seven hundred watts. According to power required multiple photovoltaic modules are connected together to form a PV array and to achieve more power. There are different types of PV systems according to their implementation which include:
- PV direct systems
- Off-grid systems
- Grid connected systems
Concentrated solar power sun rays are concentrated on small areas over larger area due to the huge amount of heat generated at focus area. This heat is used to heat the turbine which produces electricity.
Distinguishing between different types of solar panels often means differentiating between first generation, second generation and third generation. First generation are traditional types of solar panels made of monocrystalline silicon or polysilicon, most commonly used in conventional surroundings. With monocrystalline, they produce high power output with limited space and last longest. Second generation are thin film commonly used for photovoltaic power station integrated in buildings with smaller power systems.They are easiest to produce and economies of scale make them cheaper due to less material being needed for its production. They are flexible and less affected by high temperature. Third generation is still in research while some generate electricity by using organic materials and others use inorganic substance.
Solar generator advantages include:
- Reduce electricity bills
- Generation of diverse application because they have the ability to generate electricity or heat
- Low maintenance cost by keeping it clean and maintained
- Technology development advancement
Disadvantages of solar generators include:
- Purchase of the system is a large investment thus cost is high
- Dependant on weather so not always efficient
The first wind turbine were vertical axle windmills, which had long vertical drive shafts with rectangular blades. They are made up of twelve sails covered in reed matting or cloth material.
There are different categories of wind turbines; horizontal axis where components are on top of the tower, and vertical axis where its blades are connected vertically to the ground.
Wind turbine works consists of two or three propeller blades around the rotor. The rotor is connected to main shaft which spins a generator to create electricity. Wind turbines rise above the ground at about 100 feet (30 meters).
Portable wind generators are lightweight, collapsible, and quick to deploy. This makes them a viable off grid portable power source in places where solar isn’t appropriate.
Wind turbines can be used to produce electricity for a single home, building, or institution; or can be connected to an electrical supply for widespread electricity distribution.
Noise and pollution – wind turbines generate noise and visual pollution over 100 meters away
Not a profitable use of land – alternative uses for the land may be more valuable than electricity generation
Threat to wildlife – birds have been killed by spinning turbine blades
Steam power generator
Steam power generator is a power station which electricity is steam driven. Water is heated and turns into steam, which spins a turbine, which drives an electrical generator. After passing through the turbine, the steam is condensed in a condenser.
Limitations of steam power include:
- Steam is heavy and thus cannot be used to run small vehicles
- Steam engine does not start quickly as a coal fire is needed to get steam
- Unsafe to use – steam can burst due to excessive pressure
- Steam engine has low efficiency
Advantages of steam power include:
- Engine could be located anywhere because water is heated in separate boiler to produce
- Steam engine can be used anytime because steam can be produce anytime.
- it’s more powerful than a windmill.
Water power generator
Derived from the energy of falling water or fast running water which may be harnessed for useful purposes was first built in India during the 4th century..
Consists of hydroelectric dams run-of-the-river hydroelectricity and small hydro projects evaluates with the availability of power.
They are renewable with no pollution, always reliable and flexible.
The issue is that they may cause environmental consequences like interventions of nature due to damming of water.
A diesel generator is the combination of diesel engine with an electric generator to generator electrical energy.
The main components of an electric generator include:
- Fuel System
- Voltage Regulator
- Cooling and Exhaust Systems
- Lubrication System
- Battery Charger
- Control Panel
- Main Assembly
Types of diesel generators:
Contractor and Industrial Generators-used for constructing sites where another supply is not available.
Domestic Diesel Generators-used mostly as stopgaps for when a home loses power
Air-Cooled Diesel Generators-this generators run under air cooling intake system and usually used to manage work.
Water-Cooled Diesel Generators-it achieves the cooling effect by using extra power which causes water to flow around generators engine as it runs.
Diesel generators come in different power ratings for classified amount of electrical energy that it can output. For instance, 3,000-watt diesel generator will be an effective generator to run power tools, while 30,000 can run entire job-site and more for an indefinite period of time.
They are devices for generating gas. May create gas by a chemical reaction or from a solid or liquid source.
The gas is typically used to drive a turbine rather than provide a thrust as in a rocket engine
Natural gas gensets may be a bit below the performance of diesel gensets.
Self-made gas generator consists of generators with maybe below par performance but reduced pollution.
Power generators available in different countries varies according to their functionality, portability and their usefulness. For instance wind generators are costly but do not pollute the environment, thus are preferred by many people..