The first rooftop solar array was created by Inventor Charles Fritts of New York (Which happens to be the birthplace of Earthtech Products!). Although Charles’s solar panels obtained an energy conversion efficiency of only 1 to 2%, it was the very first step in the development of the solar panels we see every day. This week we will go over the science behind solar panels and the different types that are currently utilized all over the world.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
The most important element used in the creation of solar panels is Silicon. Silicon is a metalloid that features conductive properties, that become more efficient as the ambient temperature increases. Silicon is not only used in solar panel creation but is commonly used in computer and microelectronics development. Silicon is a fantastic element for green energy production due to it’s abundance, currently making up 25% of the earth’s crust.
How Are Monocrystalline Solar Panels Made?
The term Monocrystalline is referring to the single-crystal silicon that is used in their creation. The silicon is first formed into bars and then cut into wafers. In this configuration, the electrons that generate a flow of electricity have more space to move, resulting in a more efficient production rate than the common polycrystalline panels. Although the most expensive outright, they will provide the largest long-term return and power production.
How Are Polycrystalline Solar Panels Made?
Polycrystalline panels, also created from silicon, are composed of many fragments of silicon melted together, to form similar wafers. Because of the increased number of crystals in each cell, there is less room for electrons to move, resulting in a slightly less efficient panel. The majority of solar panels on the market today are Polycrystalline, due to the cheaper cost of production and continued quality improvements of Polycrystalline wafers.
How Are Thin Film Solar Panels Made?
Thin Film Solar Panels are a newer technology and only make up about 5% of the total market. These panels are created by depositing a photovoltaic substance onto a solid surface. The most common substances used in this process are Amorphous Silicon, Cadmium Telluride, Copper indium gallium selenide and Dye-sensitized solar cell. Thin Film Solar panels require the most space for the same power production, but they work very well in low light conditions and can be bent into custom shapes for space accommodation purposes.
How Do Solar Panels Produce Energy?
When sunlight makes contact with the silicon cells, it knocks the electrons off the silicon atoms. These electrons with a negative charge are then attracted to one side of the silicon cell, which generates an electric voltage that can be collected and directed. The electricity that’s generated varies based on the solar panel type and its efficiency rating.
The best solar panel for everyone’s application varies quite significantly. There are multiple factors to consider, such as location, budget and personal preference. If you would like a recommendation regarding which solar panel type would be best for you, feel free to give us a call and speak to a friendly customer service representative today. As always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise!