Solar panel are produced from Photovoltaic cells which are connected in series to form the modern solar panel.
The vast majority of photovoltaic cells are created from wafer thin crystalline silicon which is based on cadmium telluride connected together in series forming a photovoltaic array. However the photovoltaic cell is a very delicate piece of electronic equipment and requires protection from the elements, which is generally achieved by sandwiching them between a clear Perspex layer at the front and a metal, plastic or fibreglass layer at the back.
Solar panels are available commercially in three types which are Mono-crystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphous. Even though all three products are based on silicon they are manufactured very different.
Mono-crystalline Photovoltaic Cells
The Mono-crystalline cell is made from thin wafers of silicon, sliced into large crystals. The silicon crystals are manufactured under extremely strict conditions which produces a highly efficient cell, which in turn produces a high yield of electricity per inch.
Polycrystalline Photovoltaic Cells
The polycrystalline cell is rather cheaper to produce as it uses silicon wafers of interlocking crystals which are grown together as a whole panel. However panels produced in this way are also less efficient and yield a lower quantity of electric per inch.
Amorphous Photovoltaic Cells
The amorphous cell is produced by coating a backing layer with a crystal lattice of silicon atoms. Sometimes several layers of silicon are added and positioned in slightly different ways to respond to different wavelengths of light. This requires a more complex manufacturing method less energy intensive than the other two types of cells.
The amorphous cell has a major advantage over the other two types of cell as it is flexible meaning that it can be bent into any shape. The amorphous cell is so flexible that it can be attached to a flexible backing layer and rolled into a tube and stored. Due to the complex manufacturing methods involved in producing the cell it has a massive advantage and lowlight conditions and produces a higher electric per inch quarter.
However the amorphous cell is currently being developed and as of yet is not widely available.
As the solar panels of today have a life expectancy of approximately 20 years it is highly advisable to consider amorphous cells even though they are new technology and are currently in development. It won’t be long until you see amorphous cells manufactured in the shape of roofing tiles which will enable them to be fitted to the roof of your house giving you cheap electric even in low light conditions.
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