Types of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels

Generally, there are two types of solar panels: crystalline silicon and thin film. The most common solar cell is crystalline silicon, other materials for making solar cells include amorphous silicon and cadmium telluride. Solar companies have begun to use plastic and aluminum foil to produce solar electricity, it may be several years before new products become available to the consumer. Solar panels have been developed since the 1950s and are a safe and reliable way to obtain electricity.


Crystalline Silicon Solar Panels

These panels are made from blocks of silicon that contain small crystals and account for about 90 percent of PV panels installed today. There are two types, Poly-crystalline and Mono-crystalline, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have cells made of silicon wafers. Monocrystalline solar cells are cut from a single, pure crystal of silicon. Alternatively, polycrystalline solar cells are composed of fragments of silicon crystals that are melted together in a mold before being cut. About 80 percent of the weight of the crystalline silicon is tempered glass and the frame. The PV cell is almost 100 percent silicon, which is a very common element found in the Earth’s crust. The panels are durable having a full life span of about 30 years. Crystalline silicon is a poor conductor of electricity as it is a semiconductor material. To solve this issue, the silicon in the cells have impurities (atoms are purposefully combined with the silicon atoms) in order to improve the ability to capture sunlight and turn it into energy. The Mono-crystalline panels are the most efficient, economical, and reliable panels on the market today, that is why we use them in our own projects.


Thin-Film Solar Panels

These solar panels are flexible made by spreading silicon and other materials in a very thin layer directly onto a large plate, usually made of glass. Thin-Film panels are usually less efficient than silicon panels but cheaper to produce. A film solar panel is made up of thin layers of photovoltaic materials laid onto a substrate. The layers are light-absorbing and can be 300 times smaller than a silicon solar panel. Thin-film solar panels are typically not used in residential installation but instead are used in commercial projects. They are lightweight and cost less but have less of an impact on the environment because they use less silicon.

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