Solar Panel ScienceIt’s important to understand how solar panels work if you want to get the most out of buying solar panels. The basic science is:
- Solar panels capture the energy from the sun in solar cells
- This incoming energy knocks electrons loose from the material in the cells
- Wiring siphons these electrons to an inverter
- The inverter changes this flow into usable electricity
The Three Main Types of Solar PanelsAlthough modern technology has seen a few new types of solar panels emerge on the market, the three main types still dominate the residential and commercial solar landscape. These are:
Polycrystalline Solar PanelsPolycrystalline solar panels comprise solar cells made from chips of silicon melted together and molded into shape. They have a blue coloring. They’re cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels but also less efficient.
Monocrystalline Solar PanelsManufacturers make monocrystalline solar cells by slicing slivers off ingots of pure silicon. According to Blue Raven solar power company, these black-on-black panels are the premium choice for residential use, although they cost more to manufacture and install. That’s because pure silicon gives the electrons more room to move, so they can harvest more energy faster.
Thin Film Solar PanelsThin-film solar cells comprise a substrate such as plastic, metal, or glass, with a thin layer of photovoltaic material spread on top. Manufacturers typically use one of three photovoltaic materials, namely:
- copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS)
- cadmium telluride (CdTe)
- amorphous thin-film silicon (a-Si, TF-Si)