Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Exploring Solar Panels

Figure from experiment 17 from Renewable Energy with Vernier


There is increasing demand for electricity with today’s technology-heavy life. The burning of fossil fuels is the most common way that electricity is generated. Unfortunately, fossil fuels are non-renewable and cause pollution when they are used to generate electricity. For these reasons, in addition to potential money savings, people are looking to other sources to produce energy.

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.
  • Determine the efficiency of a solar panel.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

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

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.

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