What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
Since 2000 the solar power industry has seen an average annual growth rate of 48%. This increase is because of incentive programs that allow homeowners to take advantage of alternative energy at a fraction of the cost. Solar panels have so many benefits. They don’t burn fossil fuels like more traditional energy sources, which means solar panels greatly reduce air pollution. But what are solar panels made of?
In this article, we will learn more about solar panels: how they work and what they are made of.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
Solar panels are made up of solar cells created from silicon wafers. Silicon is a hard-brittle substance that is plentiful here on the earth’s surface. Have you ever noticed the tiny black specks in the sand at the beach? Those specks are silicon. Silicon is pretty amazing because it converts sunlight into energy all by itself.
Even more amazing, silicon can be grown in a lab by scientists, making it widely available and renewable. These little pieces grown in labs are called silicon wafers and that’s what solar panels are made out of. However, it’s important to remember that silicon wafer filled solar cells can’t provide the energy you need to power your home all by themselves.
These solar cells must be encapsulated in a metal casing with the wiring. That way, the solar cell’s electrons can escape and supply the necessary power for your home or business. Here are all the parts used to make a basic solar panel:
- Solar cells made from silicon
- Aluminum frame
- Glass casing
- Standard 12-volt wire
- Bus wire
What Is The Best Material To Use?
Silicon has many different cell structures: single-cell known as monocrystalline or polycrystalline, used mostly for a type of panel known as “thin-film” solar panels. So, which type of silicon is best for making solar panels?
Monocrystalline solar panels are considered the most efficient type of silicon because these solar panels are made out of the highest-grade silicon. They are the highest quality solar panels on the market in the US today.
What Process Is Used To Make Panels?
The materials used in manufacturing solar cells for clean renewable energy are only one part of the solar panel. If they are the ingredients, the solar panel manufacturing process makes up the detailed instructions for the recipe. The solar panel manufacturing process includes:
- Cutting silicon wafers and attaching them to a solar panel
- Connecting the electrical systems
- Applying a coating to each cell to prevent reflecting
- Creating a metal and glass casing to house the system
How Do Panels Work?
We have learned what solar panels are made of and how they are manufactured, but how exactly do they work?
A solar panel works by allowing photons, light particles, to free electrons from the bonds of atoms. This generates flowing electricity.
Due to the structure of silicon, it will always be “half full” of electrons, so it needs to “fill up” with help from nearby atoms. This process creates a crystalline structure. Scientists boost the electricity silicon creates during this process by adding free carrier electrons. The resulting silicon cells are used to make the surface of solar panels.
Below that resides an opposite form of silicon with one less electron. The setup creates another imbalance, and when sunlight hits the lower type of silicon, the electrons start moving. Their never-ending process is what generates electricity.
Can You Make Your Own DIY Solar Panels?
You can build your own solar power system! Some experienced individuals who often complete DIY projects can even build their own solar panels. However, it’s important to remember that while you might be able to DIY a small amount of solar power for your home, it won’t be as efficient or produce as much power as a solar power system installed by professionals.
For those wishing to install DIY solar power, don’t forget to consider:
- Overall cost
Hopefully, this article has helped explain what panels are, what they are made of, and how they can be used to reduce air pollution and provide meaningful renewable energy sources for the future. If you’re considering installing solar power for your home or business, you may want to speak with a professional installer.
Asking questions, getting professional quotes, and weighing the pros and cons will help you to determine if solar is the right choice for you. It will also allow you to assess whether you might be able to DIY a small amount of solar power for yourself or if you should call in the professionals for more efficient power.
If you want to learn more about solar financing options, check out our blog!