Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Exploring Solar Panels

Figure from experiment 17 from Renewable Energy with Vernier


Using solar panels to generate electricity from the sun is becoming increasingly common. Solar panels can be used at many scales to generate power. A single, small panel can be used to charge electronic devices such as your cell phone. Large numbers of panels can function together to generate electricity for an entire neighborhood.

The amount of electricity that can be generated by a solar panel is affected by many variables. In this experiment, you will explore how the amount of current and voltage produced by a solar panel is affected by the distance to a lamp. You will then test your equipment in direct sunlight and calculate the efficiency of the photovoltaic cell when converting the energy from the sun into electrical energy.


  • Understand how solar panels can be used to generate electricity.
  • Predict variables that affect how much electricity is generated by a solar panel.
  • Make observations and draw conclusions after testing your predictions.
  • Calculate the efficiency of a solar panel.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Renewable Energy with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Renewable Energy: Why is it So Important?
2What is Energy?
3Project: Energy Audit
4Voltage and Circuits
5Current and Resistors
6Mechanical Power
8Exploring Wind Turbines
9Effect of Load on Wind Turbine Output
10Blade Variables and Power Output
12Turbine Efficiency
13Power Curves
14Power and Energy
15Project: Maximum Energy Output
16Project: Build a Wind Farm
17Exploring Solar Panels
18AEffect of Load on Solar Panel Output
18BFill Factor and IV Curve of a Solar Panel
19Variables Affecting Solar Panel Output
20Effect of Temperature on Solar Panel Output
21Project: Build a Solar Charger
22Exploring Passive Solar Heating
23Variables Affecting Passive Solar Heating
24Exploring Solar Collectors
25Variables Affecting Solar Collectors
26Project: Solar Cooker

Experiment 17 from Renewable Energy with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Renewable Energy with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Dev Reference: VST0677

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