Born and raised on the island of Maui, Chad Sithar is the younger of two brothers. Since graduating from Maui High School in 2003, he has been working for a repair and service center, specializing in lawn equipment and home electronic repairs. Going on his fourth year, Chad is currently enrolled part-time in the Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) program at MCC.
Home Island: Maui
High School: Maui High School
Institution when accepted: Maui Community College
Akamai Project: A Sun-Day in the Life of a Solar Panel Project Site: Hnu Photonics
Mentor: Dan O’Connell
Though there are many sources of energy such as coal, oil and fuel, the Sun is our most abundant source of energy. Solar cells today are only about 6% – 40% efficient. Most solar cells on homes only turn 15% of the energy collected into electricity. Responding to the inefficiency of today’s solar cells, I have characterized individual solar cells and their performances to try and improve upon their design and ability to use the Sun’s energy more proficiently. To do this, I built a Resistive Load Box with 30 resisters in parallel. This board controls the resistance and, in return, it controls the amount of current that goes through the solar panel. The resistance is regulated by the number of switches that is turned on at any time. By varying the resistive load, the I/V curve can be easily monitored to see which resistance would be best for optimal performance. To further increase efficiency, we placed the solar panel on a tracker which is used to manually follow, or “track”, the Sun throughout the day. The use of the tracker has greatly improved the efficiency; however, there are still major improvements that need to be done, such as aligning the responsiveness of the panel to the Sun’s entire color spectrum, not just 15%.