What are solar panels made of?
Solar panels have given a new ray of hope to the field of alternative energy. The ability to transform radiant energy to electrical energy has greatly contributed towards a green environment.
Solar panels are made by combining several solar cells in a chain. To understand what solar panels are made of, we must first explore the characteristics of their basic units.
Materials Used to Build a Solar Cell
Solar cells, or photovoltaic cells, consist of silicon as the main component. Silicon is the most suitable element as its crystalline structure; however, when mixed with small traces of other elements, it becomes ideal for transferring an electrical current.
Types of Solar Panels
On the basis of their design, solar panels can be classified into three main types:
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
These solar panels are blue or black in color and are created from a single, large silicon block. The block is divided into a number of separate silicon layers which are fixed on the solar panel.
Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than polycrystalline ones, but are more difficult to set up and expensive to manufacture.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline panels are also made of silicon, but the method deployed is different. Several blocks of silicon are first melted and then fused again to form the panel. As a result of this recombination, the crystal structure forms cracks at many areas, giving it a unique and grainy texture.
These panels are cheaper to manufacture but lag monocrystalline cells in terms of efficiency.
Thin Film Panels
As the name suggests, thin film solar panels provide higher flexibility than crystalline panels. There are three main types of thin film solar panels:
- Amorphous silicon
- Cadmium telluride
- Copper indium gallium selenide