The Effect of Differing Debris on the Voltage Output of Solar Panels

The purpose of this experiment was to compare the effects different types of debris have on the voltage output of photovoltaic solar panels. This was tested by placing the same amount of different types of debris - sand, lawn soil, and NaCl (salt) - on top of a solar panel, in a dark room, with a single light on, and finding the percent difference between the voltage output of the solar panel before and after the debris was placed on the solar panel. The independent variable is the type of debris (mL) that was placed on the solar panel and the dependent variable is the voltage of the solar panels (V). Salt was hypothesized to have the least, and sand was hypothesized to have the greatest, difference in the voltage output between the initial and final voltage readings. A two-sample t test was run on the percent difference between sand and soil because their mean values were closest of the different types of debris. The t test showed that sand had a greater mean percent difference of 10.32 % than dirt, which had a mean percent difference of 8.75 %. Both of these percentages were much higher than the salt mean percent difference of 2.04 %, therefore, the original hypothesis was accepted. This could be due to the salt reflecting the photons of light instead of absorbing and re-emitting them as the sand did. There were several errors in the design of the experiment, such as the method of distribution and the size of the granules being used. This research could be useful for determining which regions solar panels will be most productive in, which is important because solar panels placed in marine regions, such as oceans, with more salt than any other type of debris, will be able to produce more volts than solar panels in desert regions, therefore powering more homes in an eco-friendly way.

Research Conducted By:

Matthew Butkowski
Lakeshore High School

Jocelyn Evert
Sterling Heights High School