Solar panels are complex devices that consist of several components working together to harness the power of the sun. The main component of a solar panel is the solar cell, which is responsible for converting sunlight into electricity. Let’s explore the materials that make up solar panels and their role in capturing solar energy.
The heart of a solar panel is the solar cell, also known as a photovoltaic (PV) cell. Solar cells are typically made of semiconductor materials, most commonly crystalline silicon. There are two main types of crystalline silicon solar cells:
- Monocrystalline Silicon: These solar cells are made from a single crystal structure, resulting in a uniform and high-efficiency cell. Monocrystalline solar panels have a dark black colour and are easily recognizable by their rounded edges.
- Polycrystalline Silicon: These solar cells are made from multiple silicon crystals, resulting in a slightly lower efficiency compared to monocrystalline cells. Polycrystalline solar panels have a blue colour and a square-shaped appearance.
In addition to silicon, other semiconductor materials like cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) can also be used in thin-film solar cells. These materials offer flexibility and lightweight characteristics, making them suitable for certain applications.
Encapsulation and Backsheet
To protect the solar cells from environmental factors and ensure their durability, solar panels are encapsulated in a transparent material, usually ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). The encapsulation material acts as an adhesive, holding the solar cells and other components together. A backsheet made of a polymer or metal foil is applied to the backside of the solar panel to provide additional protection against moisture and physical damage.
Frame and Glass
Solar panels are typically framed to provide structural support and protect the delicate components inside. The frame is usually made of aluminium, which is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and sturdy. The front surface of the solar panel is covered with a tempered glass sheet, which is highly transparent and helps protect the solar cells from external elements.
To learn more about solar panel installation and design, visit LSB Renewable Energy’s custom solar design page.
Solar panels are made up of various materials, with the solar cell being the crucial component responsible for converting sunlight into electricity. Crystalline silicon and thin-film semiconductors like CdTe and CIGS are commonly used in solar cells. Encapsulation materials, backsheet, frames, and glass provide protection and structural integrity to the solar panel. By combining these materials, solar panels can capture the sun’s energy and contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future.