What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, take the
power of the sun by emitting photons. Solar panels use
solar cells to produce
energy for a multitude of uses. So what are solar panels
A solar panel consists of two materials sandwiched together,
called a semiconductor. The materials are made out of millions
of atoms, which produce both a negative and a positive charge.
The material used to produce the positive/negative charged
stimuli is silicon. Silicon is a widely available semi-metallic
element. Silicon can come in three forms: mono-crystalline,
polycrystalline, and amorphous silicon. The mono-crystalline
is the more efficient of the three silicon base but more
The silicon itself does not produce the energy until it comes
into direct contact with the suns ray's - specifically, it must
come into contact with the photon particles the sun emits. This
is when all the magic takes place and energy is produced.
There are two types of solar energy panels: the flat plate
collector, and the concentrating collector. Both have their
own special purpose or function for providing energy.
Flat plate collectors are just that - flat. Generally used in
residential settings, and mounted on south-facing rooftops, these
thin solar panels have a transparent cover that collects the sun's
rays. The efficiency of the flat plate collector varies depending
on a number of factors, including solar radiation and outside
temperature. Their primary use is for water and space heating, but
has also been used to power lighting in homes as well.
Concentrating collectors produce much larger volumes of solar
power compared to the flat plate collectors. The energy produced
can be used for air conditioning, central power generation, industrial
heat requirements, and solar furnaces. Concentrating collector plates
are curved mirrors with a reflective surface generally made out of
aluminum or silver that cover the front or back surface. Concentrated
solar energy is the cheapest way to generate the largest volume of
electrical power by using the power of the sun.
Of course, what solar panels are made of is of less interest to
most homeowners. Efficiency tends to be a big factor in determining
whether or not to go with solar power, as efficiency also plays a
role in cost. If you have the time, the inclination, and the talent,
you can also build your
own solar panel. These homemade panels can help alleviate costs.
As solar technology improves, so too does the efficiency of solar
power. The more efficient solar power becomes for a residential
home, the more reception a homeowner will become. The days
of having to rely strictly on power companies for all your
electrical needs may one day be over.