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SOLAR PANEL TECHNOLOGY

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

CINCINNATI, OH
A solar panel outside converting sunlight into energy.
Solar Panel

A solar panel is a device that converts sunlight into electricity by using Photovoltaic (PV) cells. PV cells are made of materials that generate electrons when exposed to light. The most common form of solar panels involves crystalline silicon-type solar cells. These solar cells are formed using elemental silicon layers and elements such as boron and phosphorus. The elements added to the silicon layers form an N-type layer with excess electrons and a P-type layer with a deficit of electrons. These two layers form a P-N-type junction. The electrons flow through a circuit and produce direct current (DC) electricity, which can be used to power various devices or stored in batteries.

photovoltaic

The photovoltaic cells are arranged into a panel. Most solar cells are a few square centimeters in area and protected from the environment by a thin coating of glass or transparent plastic. Because a typical 10 x 10 (4 x 4 inch) solar cell generates only about two watts of electrical power, cells are usually combined in a series to boost the voltage or in parallel to increase the current. A solar or photovoltaic module generally comprises 36 interconnected cells laminated to glass within an aluminum frame. One or more of these modules may be wired and framed together to form a solar panel.


TYPES OF SOLAR PANELS
A monocrystalline solar panel
Monocrystalline solar panel
  • Monocrystalline solar panels:

A monocrystalline solar panel is a solar panel comprising monocrystalline solar cells. The panel derives its name from a cylindrical silicon ingot grown from single-crystal silicon of high purity in the same way as a semiconductor. As the cell is constituted of a single crystal, it provides the electrons more space to move for a better electricity flow; because of this, they are more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels. The cylindrical ingot is then sliced into wafers forming cells. These cells have a unique look because of their octagonal shape. They also have a uniform color. Monocrystalline solar panels perform better in high-heat and lower-light environments. They are the preferred choice when a limited surface is available to build a solar PV system. Monocrystalline solar panels have a minimum lifetime of 20 years and are the most expensive type of solar panel out of all three.


  • Polycrystalline Solar panel:

A polycrystalline solar panel
Polycrystalline solar panel

During manufacturing, multiple silicon crystal fragments are fused to form each photovoltaic (PV) cell. Polycrystalline solar panels exhibit PV cells with straight edges and a blue hue. Compared to monocrystalline cells, they possess a lower efficiency, necessitating more panels to achieve equivalent power output. Nevertheless, polycrystalline panels are more cost-effective due to their straightforward manufacturing process. While polycrystalline panels are durable, their lifespan is slightly shorter than monocrystalline panels. Additionally, they are more susceptible to decreased productivity in high-temperature conditions.


  • Thin-film solar panels:

A thin-film solar panel
Thin-film solar panel

They are made by depositing one or more thin layers of photovoltaic material on a substrate, such as glass, plastic, or metal. They are very light and flexible second-generation cells. These solar panels convert solar energy to electrical energy using the photovoltaic effect principle. They are composed of multiple thin layers of photovoltaic materials. The layers are roughly 300 to 350 times thinner than standard silicon, which makes the technology ideal for portable devices.







HOW DO SOLAR PANELS CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABILITY?

They reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels. Solar energy is renewable, meaning it will never run out, while fossil fuels are finite resources that will eventually be depleted. Solar panels can reduce carbon emissions, water consumption, and air pollution. Life-cycle carbon emissions are 95% lower than coal, and total water consumption is 99% lower than coal. As solar panels are an alternative to fossil fuels, their increased use will further their sustainability by reducing our reliance on and total emissions from fossil fuels.

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. They are renewable, and they reduce carbon emissions, water consumption, and air pollution. By installing solar panels in your home, you can save money on your energy bills and help the environment simultaneously!

References

Solar panel | Definition & Facts | Britannica.

What is Monocrystalline Solar Panel? Advantages and Disadvantages - Linquip. https://www.linquip.com/blog/what-is-a-monocrystalline-solar-panel/

Solar Panel - PV Inputs | Cove.tool Help Center. https://help.covetool.com/en/articles/5339336-solar-panel-pv-inputs

Thin-Film Solar Panels (2023 Guide) - EcoWatch.

Are Solar Panels Sustainable? The Sustainability of Solar.


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