What Are Solar Panels Made Of? The Process Revealed

The ingenuity of solar power is credibly valuable to the future of the world. But how and why does it work?

If you’d like to know, you’re in the right place. In any case, solar panels are made with precision-robotics with a variety of materials, which had to go through a multitude of refining and purifying processes.

In this article, we will cover the general scope of solar panel creation. Keep reading to learn more.

The Four-Step Process

When it comes to making solar panels, the entire process can be attributed to four general steps. But on the premise of real discussion, it is significantly much more involved and intricate. But we’ll just go over the basics.

Raw Material

For the creation of conductive electrical components, silicon is the most basic element. Before it has a purpose, it has to go through a treating process, which rids it of impurity. So this converts it to polysilicon or pure silicon.

There isn’t really any shortage of material. Silicon is abundant and it makes up about one-quarter of the crust of the earth in weight.

Wafers & Ingots

Now that the silicon has been rid of impurity, it is developed into ingot form, which is that of a pure silicon cylinder. The ingot is made from silicon crystals, which are dipped in the polycrystalline silicon.

The impurity will retain itself in the melted liquid, so the form will be of a pure cylinder. At that point, the ingot can be sliced into 0.5 millimeter-width wafers, which can be shaped into hexagonal or rectangular shapes.

Cell

Phosphorous and boron are then added to the wafers via the doping method. The wafers are heated, in order for the atoms from the doping agents to enter the solution.

When the chemicals have been added to the polysilicon, the result is an overbearing presence of electrons, which is then followed by a quickened depletion of them. This allows polysilicon to perform as a semiconductor.

Solar Panels

In order to conduct lots of electricity, the cells must connect via electrical contact. Then, the group of cells will connect to a receiver.

After this, a specialist will apply an anti-reflective coating to all panels to prevent sunlight bounce and energy waste. The cells come sealed in vinyl acetate or rubber, framed in aluminum, and covered in plastic or glass.

But Where Does Polysilicon Come From?

The polysilicon is important, but it comes from the unrefined product of silica. Silica resides in the sand, earth quart, and rock. Silica has a dioxide component, so a refiner has to convert it to silicon via heating first.

In the United States, there are six domestic firms that produce silicon material at eight different plants. All of them are east of the Mississippi River. However, silicon is often imported from countries all over the world, such as Canada, China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, etc.

It is quite common for people to think that a certain country provisions better quality silicon, but it all comes down to the quality control of that specific factory, and the general regulations instilled by the local government of that area.

What Are the Cell Types and How Do They Differ?

It might seem that the above process only resolves to a single unit of solar panel, but that’s not true. When it comes to solar panels, they come in various configurations, which affects the way they are made. So let’s take a look at that.

Monocrystalline

These panels come from a large silicon block and produced via wafer format. The process involves cutting the wafers of silicon to fit on a panel.

A monocrystalline silicon cell is more efficient than the ones below. Even though the production of them is more labor-intensive and more expensive, they still contribute to a greater effective result.

Monocrystalline cells have a distinct dark black color, often associated with the sleek look of premium panels.

Polycrystalline

These silicon cells originate from the melting of various silicon crystals together. Lots of silicon particulate meals, and is then re-fused in the panel itself. Polycrystalline cells are less efficient, and thus, are significantly cheaper.

They often come with a blueish tint, often associated with mid-range solar panels.

Amorphous Silicon

These cells come from flexible materials and fit in thin-film solar panels. Amorphous silicon is non-crystalline, so it must attach to metal, plastic, or glass.

Because of this, the cells are thin, flexible, and adaptable. Even though they are very versatile, they are super inefficient in comparison to prior examples.

What Parts Make up a Solar Panel?

Of course, the materials are only part of the equation. The solar panel development process usually brings in the presence of other components.

Here are the most common, which are necessary:

  1. Silicon cells
  2. Metal frame
  3. Glass casing
  4. 12V wires
  5. Bus wires
  6. Plexiglass

So as you can see, in addition to the silicon cells, the panel has a glass casing at the front to provide protection for the PV. Under the casing, the panel has a metal casing for insulation and protection from heat dissipation and humidity. The insulation is very important because temperature increase leads to decreased efficiency and lower energy output.

Solar panel manufacturers have to go to extreme lengths to ensure that light is being captured without the technology going through any overheating.

Solar Done Right

Now that you know how companies make solar panels, you are well on your way to determining if it’s the right decision for you. Solar power is plentiful, so no rush.

If you’re interested in having a discussion about solar panel installation in the Las Vegas area, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your needs.

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