Solar panels are quickly becoming one of the most iconic examples of green energy production in this day and age. When people see solar panels on the roof of a house, outside a large commercial property or just lined up in a large outdoor area, they will often think of how the solar panels might work. What they may not consider is exactly what makes a solar panel work when it comes to harnessing and producing electrical energy from the sun’s rays. No matter where you find them, there are some specific materials that make solar panels capable of producing clean energy. Once you know what a solar panel is made of exactly, it gets easier to understand the complexities of how it is able to produce electricity for our daily use.
Types of Solar Panels
Although from a distance they often appear to look the same, there are a few different types of solar panels that you may encounter everyday. Each solar panel system is created for a specific area or type of use, and some work better than others in certain conditions. Also, some solar panels are better suited to an individual or organization’s budget, which is why different types of panels are available. Solar panels are also known as photovoltaic or PV panels, which describes how they function. There are three major types of PV panels available that differ in how they are manufactured. Each one is made using silicon, but the method by which this silicon is used in the manufacturing process is different.
Monocrystalline PV Panels
One of the most effective and expensive examples of a solar panel is the monocrystalline, or single cell PV panel. This type of panel uses silicon that is derived from one large silicon block and individually cut into wafers that can be affixed to a larger solar panel.
Polycrystalline PV Panels
The next type of solar panel is known as the polycrystalline panel which is made by melting a number of different silicon crystals together into one panel. This use of multiple silicone crystals makes the polycrystalline cells less efficient than their monocrystalline counterparts, but the manufacturing process is less labour intensive. As a result, these PV panels cost less to produce.
Amorphous Silicon Cells
The final example of solar panels is known as the amorphous cell which produces solar panels that are highly durable thanks to their built in flexibility. These panels are not made using crystalline silicon like the other examples, meaning they are capable of remaining flexible when combined with a substrate material such as glass, plastic or metal. Although they are the ideal choice if you are in need of a flexible and highly versatile PV panel, they are the least efficient of the three types of PV panels.
Constructing a Solar Panel
Every example of a solar panel in every type of solar energy system uses some type of silicon as its main material. Silicon is extremely useful when it comes to converting solar energy into electricity because of the conductive properties of this non-metal element. When light hits the silicon cell on a solar system, it causes electrons to move and stimulate a flow of electricity. We call this the photovoltaic effect, which is where the term photovoltaic, or PV panel comes from.
The silicon alone however is not enough to generate electricity. That is where the other components of a solar panel come into effect. A typical solar panel is made by attaching a series of silicon pieces or films to a layered sheet of glass and electrically neutral materials using a protective bonding glue. This sheet is typically framed with aluminum and connected via electrical wire to a converter that turns the energy gathered by the panel into useable electrical power. Many solar panels are also insulated to reduce the buildup of heat over time, which makes them less efficient.
As the demand for greater energy efficiency grows around the world, solar panels will continue to improve. If you are interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of this renewable energy resource by investing in your own solar panel system for home or your commercial property, be sure to contact the experts at Rikur Energy today!
Brad is proud to be of First Nation’s descent with ancestry traced back to the Manitoba Red River Band. With over 20 years’ experience in the construction industry, Brad offers an extensive background of project procurement in industries from agriculture, electrical distribution to commercial construction. Brad is a NABCEP certified professional with a thirst for ongoing education in the renewable field.