What Are Solar Panels Made of? The Building Blocks of Solar Panels
As homeowners look to cut their dependency on conventional energy sources and reduce their carbon footprint, solar panels have grown in popularity in recent years. Have you ever wondered, though, what material makes up these sleek, shiny panels? For homeowners who want to switch to renewable energy sources in an informed way, it is important to understand the components of solar panels. We’ll examine the component of solar panels in more detail in this post, as well as how each one functions to produce a reliable energy source for your home.
The Layers of Solar Panels
Solar panels are made up of several layers, each of which plays a specific role in capturing solar energy and transforming it into usable energy. Tempered glass is commonly used as the top layer of solar panels since it can survive extreme weather and safeguard the layers below it.
An anti-reflective coating layer behind the glass helps to maximize the quantity of sunlight that the screen absorbs. The photovoltaic (PV) cells, are found in the next layer and are in charge of turning sunlight into electrical energy. Solar cells are constructed of silicon, a semiconductor that can convert solar radiation into useful power. The wire that connects the solar panel system’s cells to its other parts is protected and provided with insulation by the bottom layer, which is comprised of a polymer material.
The Top Layer: Glass
The most typical material for the top layer of solar panels is tempered glass. This special type of glass is made to survive severe weather while safeguarding the layers underneath it. Also, because of its extreme transparency, sunlight can travel through and reach the PV cells. Tempered glass is very simple to keep clean and maintain, ensuring that your solar panels will keep working effectively for many years to come.
The Second Layer: EVA Film
The Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) film, which acts as an adhesive layer to hold the solar cells in place, is the second layer of solar panels. This layer is essential because it shields the cells from moisture, dust, and other contaminants that could harm them.
The EVA film is also in charge of sealing the cells and keeping out air, which could lead to corrosion and lower the efficiency of the panel. Also, the EVA coating helps in distributing heat evenly throughout the solar panel, avoiding hotspots that can harm the cells. Overall, this layer is essential to keeping the solar cells safe and ensuring that the panel operates at its best.
The Third Layer: Solar Cells
The true magic takes place on the third layer of solar panels. Photovoltaic cells (PV) are found in this layer and are responsible for converting sunlight into electrical energy.
Silicon, a semiconductor material used to make these cells, has the singular capacity to transform sunlight into usable energy. Electrons flow when sunlight strikes the solar cells, producing an electric current that can be used to power your home. The cells may create more electricity the more sunshine they receive.
Solar panels are capable of turning almost 20% of the sunshine they receive into usable power, demonstrating the incredible efficiency with which solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. Depending on the solar panel’s capacity and intended usage, the number and size of the solar cells will vary.
While bigger commercial panels can have hundreds or even thousands of cells, residential solar panels typically have between 60 and 72 solar cells. No matter their size, solar cells are the essential component of any solar panel system and are necessary for the panel to function properly and convert sunlight into electricity.
The Fourth Layer: Backsheet
The fourth and final layer of a solar panel is the backsheet. Its main purpose is to shield the surrounding layers and solar cells from climate conditions including UV radiation, moisture, and dust. A polymer material, such Tedlar or TPT, which is strong, light, and weatherproof, is generally used for the backsheet.
The backsheet also acts as an insulating layer to stop harmful leakage of the electric current produced by the cells. It is crucial to remember that the backsheet must be fitted and cared for correctly in order for it to remain intact and avoid developing cracks or other damage. The performance and longevity of the panel may be jeopardized by any damage to the backsheet.
The Materials Used in Solar Cells
There are several different materials used to make solar cells, with silicon being the most popular. However, monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon are the two forms used in solar cells. Compared to polycrystalline cells, which are composed of several crystals, monocrystalline cells are created from a single silicon crystal and are typically more effective. Cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide, and organic photovoltaic cells are further components utilized in solar cells.
The purest kind of silicon, called monocrystalline silicon, is used to create the most effective solar cells currently on the market. In a controlled setting, a single silicon crystal is developed to produce this form of silicon. The resulting cells are typically black in color and have a consistent texture. High-end solar panels use monocrystalline silicon cells because they are more efficient and cost more to build than polycrystalline silicon cells.
In order to create a square or rectangular block, many silicon crystals are melted together to create polycrystalline silicon. In order to make solar cells, this block is subsequently divided into thin wafers. Polycrystalline cells are less effective than monocrystalline cells because they contain more crystals, but they are also less expensive to make. Because they are more affordable than monocrystalline cells while maintaining a reasonable level of efficiency, polycrystalline cells are frequently utilized in home solar panels.
Thin-Film Solar Cells
Thin-film solar cells are a more recent invention that converts sunlight into energy by using materials like cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide, or organic compounds. To make a flexible and lightweight solar panel, these materials are layered thinly onto a substrate made of glass or metal. While being less effective than crystalline silicon cells, thin-film solar cells have the advantage of being far more affordable to make and having a wider range of uses, such as on curved surfaces or in portable devices.
Other Components of Solar Panels
A working solar panel needs other components in addition to solar cells. The solar cells are supported by a frame, shielded by a glass cover from the weather and unwanted material, and connected to the wires by a junction box. The junction box also has a diode that stops the solar panel from using the battery’s energy at night or in dimly lit areas. To store the energy generated by the solar panel for later use, a charge controller or battery bank is connected to the solar panel by wires.
A solar panel’s frame, which is commonly composed of aluminum, holds the solar cells and serves as their protective covering. The entire solar panel is supported and stabilized by the frame. The solar panel’s size and weight have an impact on the frame’s thickness and strength.
The junction boxes that link the solar cells to the wires are a crucial part of solar panels. Also, the box has a diode that stops the solar panel from using the battery’s energy at night or in low light. In order to protect it from the weather, the junction box is typically mounted on the back of the solar panel. To shield them from harm and make sure they are weatherproof, the wires that are attached to the junction box are normally encased in a sheath composed of rubber or plastic.
Another crucial element that facilitates the transmission of electricity from a solar panel to a charge controller or battery bank is wiring. The junction box serves as the conduit through which copper-colored cables are connected to the solar cells. The wire’s diameter and length are determined by how far the solar panel is from the charge controller or battery bank. Use of cables that are correctly sized and have low resistance is crucial to prevent energy loss.
Solar cells are the most important of the many parts that make up solar panels. Crystalline silicon or thin-film materials, each having advantages and disadvantages, can be used to create these cells.
Frames, junction boxes, and wiring are additional solar panel parts. The junction box connects the solar cells to the wires and minimizes energy loss, while the frame supports and safeguards the solar cells. The transmission of electricity from a solar panel to a charge controller or battery bank is made easier by wiring.
Homeowners can switch to renewable energy sources in an informed manner by being aware of the components that make up solar panels. Solar panel purchases not only help the environment but also help households save their energy costs. The price of installing solar panels is going down, so now is a great moment for homes to think about switching to solar power.
Make the switch to solar power today and join the growing number of Texans and Floridians who are part of a more sustainable future. Premium Solar Patios is leading the charge by offering quick, efficient installation services for roofs, patios, pergolas – you name it! Get in touch with us right away to find out how we can help get your home powered up – free consultation included.