Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Effect of Load on Solar Panel Output

Figure from experiment 18 from Renewable Energy with Vernier


Given that there is a seemingly endless supply of energy available from the sun, solar, or photovoltaic (PV) cells, are becoming increasingly common. Photovoltaic cells, which are most often made out of silicon, a semiconductor, have the ability to convert light energy into electrical energy.

In this experiment, you will test a solar panel to determine how load (in this case, a resistor) affects its power output. You will create a potential-current curve, also known as an IV curve.


  • Use the Vernier Energy Sensor to determine current, voltage, and power.
  • Determine how power output varies depending on the resistance (load) in a circuit.
  • Determine the relationship between internal resistance and optimal resistance.
  • Create an IV curve for 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?

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
18Effect of Load on Solar Panel Output
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 18 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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