Over the past few years, solar power has become more and more mainstream. As we are already seeing the effects of climate change, more people are turning to alternative energy options.
Solar power is a cost-efficient and effective way to power your home while reducing your carbon footprint. But despite all this talk about solar panels, not many people actually know how they’re made.
So what are solar panels made of? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
Solar photovoltaics, or PV, are made from a variety of different components. The most important one being silicon cells. Silicon bears the atomic number 14 on the periodic table. It’s a nonmetal and has conductive characteristics that give this element the ability to turn sunlight into energy.
When a silicon cell interacts with light, electrons are then set into motion. This is what initiates the flow of electricity. This process is known as the “photovoltaic effect.”
It’s worth noting that silicon cells by themselves can’t power your house. They have to be with wiring and metal casing. This is so that the electrons from the solar cells can travel across the panel and supply usable energy.
There are several different cell structures that silicon can come in. There are polycrystalline (multicell), monocrystalline (single-cell), and amorphous forms. The amorphous forms are usually associated with thin-film solar panels.
The Manufacturing Process
Monocrystalline solar panels are made out of one large block of silicon. Individual wafers of silicon are cut out of the block and affixed to a solar panel. Monocrystalline cells are more efficient than amorphous or polycrystalline solar cells.
However, it’s also a more labor-intensive process to make monocrystalline solar panels. So they usually cost more money to produce.
Rather than being made out of a large block, polycrystalline solar cells are made by melting several silicon crystals together. After these silicon molecules are all melted, they’re then refused together into the solar panel. This results in a less efficient product when compared to monocrystalline solar panels but they’re also not as expensive.
Lastly, there are amorphous silicon cells. These cells are actually used to make flexible solar panels parts that are used in thin-film panels. These cells are non-crystalline and are attached to materials like metal, plastic, or glass.
Unlike a traditional solar panel, thin-film solar panels are bendable and also lean. These are less efficient than polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon cell solar panels.
The Importance of Knowing What Solar Panels Are Made Of
Hopefully, after reading the above, you feel that you have the answer to the question: “What are solar panels made of?”. And the great thing is that by knowing more about the manufacturing and chemical processes involved in making solar panels, you can make more informed decisions for your own business.
Are you looking to install solar panels at your office building? Contact us today to see how we can help you!