From a distance, photovoltaic panels appear to be solid black or blue. Get up closer, though, and you can see that solar modules have a pattern of white lines.
What are these lines? What do they do? Do all solar panels have a visible grid pattern?
The answer lies in the way PV panels are designed and constructed.
Grid Lines on Photovoltaic Panels Have a Purpose
The white lines on photovoltaic modules serve one of three important purposes, depending on whether they’re the gaps, the fingers or the busbars.
The gap lines are spaces between the solar cells, through which you can see the panel’s white backing. The gaps are necessary to allow for thermal expansion of the cells when the panels heat in the sun.
Both the fingers and the busbars are electrical conductors. The fingers, or finger-like contacts, are thin, metallic lines that collect and deliver energy from the solar cell to the busbars. Busbars, typically made of aluminum or silver-plated copper, run perpendicular to the fingers. They separate solar cells within the photovoltaic module and conduct DC current from the cells to the system’s inverter(s).
Without these elements, harvesting electricity from solar panels isn’t possible.
Photovoltaic Panels with Less-Visible Grid Lines
If you don’t care for the white grid pattern, you can choose solar panels that do not have visible gap lines running through them. These photovoltaic modules still have the necessary gaps, but the black backing hides them.
Eliminating the gap lines makes the photovoltaic modules more aesthetically appealing — from ground level, they look completely black. Many homeowners appreciate how the look of these solar panels integrates easily with their roofs.
But you can expect to pay a premium for modules with a black backing. In addition, black panels may be slightly less efficient than their white-line counterparts. Because of their darker backing sheets, these modules absorb more heat from the sun. The added heat can, in turn, reduce energy output.
Choosing the Right Photovoltaic Panels to Power Your Home
When shopping for photovoltaic modules, make sure you purchase from a well-known manufacturer. Name-brand solar panels are known to be reliable and durable. You can trust that they will remain operational for at least your 25-year warranty period, and probably many years longer.
Selecting the right photovoltaic panels to power your home is a matter of comparing a variety of different factors. You need to consider size and watt capacity, solar cell type, module efficiency, power tolerance, temperature coefficient ratings, and of course, cost.
Weighing these factors can be confusing and time-consuming, however. Fortunately, an experienced solar installer can help you determine which photovoltaic modules are most appropriate for your needs.
Intermountain Wind & Solar is the region’s leading photovoltaic contractor. Our expert team can answer all your questions and explain how the components necessary for your photovoltaic power system work. We offer complimentary solar energy consultations for business owners and homeowners throughout Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado. Trust IWS to help you select the right photovoltaic panels to power your home.