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Posted On: May 7, 2020

How Solar Panels Are Made

How Solar Panels Are Made

Did you know that the price of solar has fallen over 70% since 2010? This means that more people can take advantage of solar and the programs that provide incentives for going green. The industry is booming and with good reason. But if your brain works like mine, you may be wondering how solar panels are made. In this guide, we will discuss the various types of solar panels as well as how solar panels are made.

Types Of Solar Panels

There are 3 different types of solar panels. Understanding each type will help you decide on which panel is best for your solar project.

Monocrystalline

These cells are made from the purest form of silicon and prized for their dark color, longevity, and small size. Monocrystalline panels are sometimes called Single-Crystalline panels. This is because they are cut from a single source of silicon making them highly efficient. They are expensive due to their costly manufacturing process, which often produces more silicon waste than other types of solar panel cells. Many people prefer monocrystalline panels due to their high efficiency.

Polycrystalline

These cells, also sometimes called Polysilicon panels were the first solar panels to go to market. Their manufacturing process involves melting silicon rather than cutting, which reduces waste and makes this type of panel more cost-effective than monocrystalline panels. However, they are larger panels that require more space, and sometimes they don’t perform well in high temperatures.

Thin Film

Unlike most solar panels, this type is not made from silicon. Instead, thin-film panels use a layer of glass, plastic, or metal with electrodes to capture electricity. Normally, this type of cell doesn’t produce much power. However, manufacturers are finding that they can stack thin-film panels to increase output. Some people prefer thin film because they are lightweight and easy to transport.

What Are Panels Made Of?

Panels are made of many different materials. Most importantly, silicon naturally converts sunlight into energy in the form of “cells.” In addition to solar cells, panels include a glass casing for added durability and protection for the silicon PV. Under the glass, the solar panel has insulation and a protective sheet, which helps heat dissipation and humidity that can damage the panel leading to loss of power.

How Solar Panels Are Made: Step-By-Step

  1. Naturally, occurring beach sand is turned into high-quality silicon in a furnace at very high temperatures.
  2. The silicon is collected in the form of solid rock and formed into “ingots” or cylinder shapes. At this stage, the process varies slightly for different types of silicon panels.
  3. Then, the ingots are sliced to form wafers and a reflective coating is added to keep the wafers from losing heat.
  4. The wafers are treated and formed together to create a solar cell and a phosphorus coating is added to help the cells absorb sunlight, not reflect it.
  5. The solar cells, together with other layers of glass and insulation are put together to form a solar panel.
  6. The final step involves testing modules to clean and inspect the final product.

How Long Do Panels Last?

Decades! Solar panel parts are made to last and often produce electricity well after their warranties. Although, it’s important to remember that solar panels might be less efficient in later years. Most solar panels last 25 to 30 years before beginning to lose efficiency.

The solar industry is constantly working to increase the efficiency and life expectancy of panels. As the industry continues to grow, the manufacturing process has become more competitive. Solar manufacturing companies are focused on providing cost-effective, efficient, and long-lasting solar power to compete with more conventional sources of energy like fossil fuels.

Now that you know how solar panels are made and the different types of panels available, you might want to meet with a solar power provider that can help you determine what type of solar energy is right for you.

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