Can Artificial Lights Power A Small Size Solar Panel

Is it possible to use artificial lights to power a small size solar panel?

Artificial lights can in fact power a solar panel if the following conditions are met to maximize the performance:

  • Maximum light exposure
  • Close distance
  • Within the visible spectrum region (300 -830 nm wavelengths)

However, the efficiency obtained from using this source of light is so low and slow, which is not worth it to be considered as a primary electrical recharge option. Having directly sunlight exposure will always trump artificial light.

Here are couple more technical information if you’re interested to learn more

The Basics

Solar Radiation and Light Spectrum

Solar radiation is the main source of energy to generate electricity. A broad spectrum of solar radiation reaches the Earth. Indeed, the standard outdoor solar spectrum is within the range from 280 nm to 4000 nm, this include UV, visible and infrared.

Different parts of the light spectrum emits different level of energy as shown below:

The smaller the wavelength number, the more energy it has.

The highest irradiance values is in the visible light region. It contains all the colors of the rainbow and includes wavelengths that go from 400 to 700 nm.

The infrared wavelengths range from ~700nm to 2500nm provides the adequate amount of energy to charge for example a solar powered pool heater or a solar pool blanket

Did you know? Most solar panel manufacturers focus on maximizing the absorption of light within the visible region, but most can still absorb energy from a wide range of light wavelength.

Thin Film VS Monocrystalline VS Crystalline – Artificial Light Performance

Crystalline family solar cells are able to absorb a higher range of wavelengths including visible light, and also wavelengths in the near infrared region (up to 1200 nm)

Meanwhile, Amorphous (a-Si), Gallium Arsenide (GaAs), Dye-sensitized (DSSC) and Organic Solar Cells work mainly with visible region of light.

Common FAQ

Does Artificial Light Provide Enough Energy For Solar Panels?

As mentioned above, the efficiency of artificial light is so low and slow, which is not worth the time or money to use as a primary electrical recharge option.

An incandescent lamp generally has around spectrum of 300 -830 nm, that means it can a solar panels can extract power from this type of source.

Meanwhile natural sunlight is in the 100 – 400 nm in the ultraviolet range (More energy), and it can cause damage to human without proper protection.

When Do You Ever Charge Things With Artificial Lights?

Artificial lights can charge small scale devices indoor such as a calculator with solar panel, solar lights, solar chargers and other portable solar panel devices. But they’re extremely slow.

The best use of artificial light for charging solar speakers, lights, lantern…. basically for indoor devices that can stay stationary long enough to charge without the sun.

Key Takeaways

Artificial lights can charge a solar panel, but extremely slow. It can only work for indoor applications on small solar devices such as a solar calculator, flashlights and things that can be stationary long enough to receive slow electrical charge.

Monocrystalline technology and incandescent light are the best possible combination to receive electricity from artificial light. followed by Polycrystalline and CIGS technologies as the second best

Jeunkong Tai

Recent college graduate from the University of Kansas with an electrical engineering degree and bilingual in Chinese and English. I've learned about solar panels just by being around friends that have them on their home rooftop, and have gained knowledge by helping out on some DIY projects.

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