Features of the Top 3 Types of Solar Energy Panels
Today, you can find different types of Solar Energy Panels, with each type virtually representing the next higher generation in the development of this technology. However, each one is still developing and the level of efficiency offered by them is almost at par or has a difference of a few percentages. The leading solar panel types are described here in brief.
1. Mono-crystalline Solar Panels
In these types of panels, crystalline silicon is used for making large sheets that can be cut to create the panels. Thus, a single and large-sized cell creates all the panels. Metallic strips are then laid on the cell and it acts as the conductor for capturing the freely moving electrons. The unique thing about mono-crystalline Solar Energy Panels is that they have higher efficiency compared to the second type of panels, poly-crystalline panels. However, they are still cheaper than the later.
2. Poly-crystalline Solar Panels
In this type of solar panels, a group of smaller solar cells are added together to create a large cell. These panels have lesser efficiency compared to the mono-crystalline alternatives. The strange thing about this technology is that even though it costs less to the manufacturer compared to the mono-crystalline panels, these Solar Energy Panels cost more to the end customer.
A poly-crystalline solar cell can be produced in many different ways. Two of these popular methods are as following:
i) Cast Poly-Silicon Method
• This process involves adding molten silicon to a large block.
• The block is cooled and the silicon is cut into thin wafers that are used for making photovoltaic cells.
• The solar cells are then collected inside a panel.
• Then metal strips are placed over these cells and they are connected to each other to form an electrical circuit.
ii) String Ribbon Silicon Method
• This method is a slight variation of the cast poly-silicon method.
• However, in this case thin strips are drawn from the molten silicon.
• Then, these crystalline strips are grouped together in Solar Energy Panels and placed with metal strips for completing the electrical circuit.
• This process is cheaper than the poly-silicon method, but the cost to the end user is strangely higher.
• The costs are saved in terms of the sawing process required in cutting the wafers in the poly-silicon method.
• In some cases, string ribbon silicon cells have higher efficiency compared to the poly-silicon cells.
3. Thin Film Solar Energy Panels
The production of thin film Solar Energy Panels is entirely different from that of the crystalline solar panels. In this case, the silicon is used without its crystalline structure. Rather, it is applied on a surface as a thin film. And, even alternatives of silicon like Copper Indium Diselenide (CIS) or Cadmium Telluride are used as semiconductors.
The coated material is then connected to the metal strips as in the case of the crystalline cells. However, the typical components found in the crystalline panels are not used because in this case, there is no need for that level of protection.
Advantages of Thin-Film Panels
1. The main advantage of thin-film Solar Energy Panels is that they have lower cost of manufacturing.
2. Secondly, they are highly versatile.
3. This technology doesn’t depend upon the long and costly process of making silicon crystal. This means that this process is extremely fast.
4. It is also possible to create flexible solar cells because the semiconductor material can be applied on a wide range of materials.
However, compared to the crystalline Solar Energy Panels, the thin-film panels have lower efficiency. And, that this technology uses low-quality silicon means that the efficiency can also decline with time.