Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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solar panel-mirror combo

using mirrors to increase the energy input of a solar panel
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(+3, -1)
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How about parabolic mirrors that focus the sunlight towards a small solar panel so there is no need for a huge and expensive solar panel.

this small solar panel could be cooled by water running behind it.

The warmed up water could be used as a source for warm water. :)

A cheaper idea might be to use flat mirrors but then the mirrors would have to track the sun so the light always gets directed to the solar panel or it could blind people

mr Dries, Nov 11 2008

Solar concentrators http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell
Search for "boost" [csea, Nov 11 2008]

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       Hi, Welcome to the halfbakery. I'm not the scientific type, but I like your idea. + it seems simple and practical, uh oh, this is the halfbakery...
xandram, Nov 11 2008
  

       //use flat mirrors but then the mirrors would have to track the sun//
Um, a parabolic mirror would need to be tracking as well. So would pretty much any system that uses a mirror to collect light for a solar cell/heat exchanger/whatever. (Solar trough systems cheat by using a linear mirror, sacrificing efficiency for simplicity.)
neutrinos_shadow, Nov 11 2008
  

       a) that's my idea :-)
b) gotta be baked somewhere it's so obvious
  

       Using the new polymer cells which can operate @ 60-80C. When the panel burns out buy a new (generation) one.
FlyingToaster, Nov 11 2008
  
      
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