By now, you’ve seen photovoltaic solar panels on residences and businesses throughout you community. After all, the large, shiny, blue rectangles are hard to miss, particularly in a large solar array.
Have you ever wondered how these photovoltaic solar panels are made?
Creating a Crystalline Silicon Sheet
Traditional photovoltaic solar panels, which are used for most systems today, use crystalline silicon in the solar cells. Silicon is one of the most common elements in the earth, and it functions effectively as a semiconducting material.
The crystalline silicon is sliced into thin disks that are typically less than a centimeter thick.
This cutting process can damage the delicate material, however, so the tiny disks are then carefully treated and polished. Metal conductors and dopants, or trace elements that alter the silicon’s electrical properties, are then applied to the disks.
The conductors are then aligned in a grid and spread in a flat sheet on top of the solar panel.
Protecting the Photovoltaic Panel
To protect the crystalline silicon sheet and keep it safe from the elements, a thin layer of glass is bonded to the solar panel. The panel is then attached to a supportive substrate, which may be made of an aluminum plastic, polidimide or any of several other durable materials.
A thermally conductive cement, which works to keep photovoltaic panels from overheating, is used in this attachment to the substrate. Without this thermal cement, any excess energy the panels produce could cause overheating, potentially damaging the solar cells and leading to a reduction in the system’s efficiency.
As an additional measure to prevent overheating, experts suggest that your setup allow for adequate ventilation and airflow around the system.
Thin-Film Photovoltaic Panels
Although they aren’t recommended in most applications, another type of PV panel — thin-film cells — are also used today. These panels are created by vapor-depositing an alloy in layers.
Because the solar cells are much thinner than crystalline silicon cells, panels created with this technology are flexible, and consequently, more fragile and vulnerable to damage. Thin-film panels can be used on curved surfaces and building facades, and the technology is being perfected for use in rooftop shingles and tiles.
Thin-film photovoltaic solar panels are typically made of amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS).
Other materials, such as nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si) and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC) are currently being developed. Thin-film technologies are still being perfected, but based on their easily damaged nature, these products are rarely used in standard solar panel construction.
At Intermountain Wind and Solar, we take great pride in the quality and durability of our products. Backed by full warranties, we only use products from established manufacturers. Our installation quality leads the industry, and our customer testimonials and reviews back up our promises.
Contact us today to learn more about how photovoltaic solar can benefit you.