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What Are Solar Panels Made of

By Benjamin Strusnik May 17, 2022

what are solar panels made of

Table of Contents


If you’re interested in installing solar panels in your home, it makes sense that you’ll want to know what solar panels are made of, and how they’re made. 

Solar panels are essentially a collection of photovoltaic (PV) cells. They’re used to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect using solar energy. This energy is then transferred through wires to your home.

There are different types of solar cells. We’ll take you through the differences between these cells and their capabilities. We’ll also take you through how solar panels are made so you can make an educated decision about the ones you’ll purchase for your home.

How Are Solar Panels Made

Solar panels are made up of PV cells, or photovoltaic cells. These cells conduct electricity by absorbing the sun’s energy. 

how are solar panels made

This energy is then extracted through the conductive metals in the panel, which are the grid-like lines you’ll see on the panel. The energy then becomes usable power for your home.

If you’re wondering what solar panels can power, the answer is varied. The appliances your solar panels can power depend on how many panels you have. The type of panel you have also make a difference. Some can store energy more efficiently than others, meaning they can provide more electricity to your home.

The amount of electricity they can make depends on the type of PV cells you opt for.

When looking at how solar panels are made, there are two components to consider. There’s the panel itself, and the PV cells. We’ll go into more detail about the different PV cells below.

Solar Panel Materials

The main material in a solar panel is the PV cell. 95% of cells in solar panels sold these days are made from silicon, which is a semiconductor. All this means is that the material is able to conduct electricity, which is the main job of a solar panel.

solar panel materials

When sunlight hits these silicon cells, electrons are released. This might sound complicated, but essentially, these electrons are what power your home. 

The other components of a solar panel are glass, plastic, metal, and wiring. These materials make up the panel itself. 

The wiring is used to connect the panel to your home’s electricity grid. This ensures that the power stored in your solar panel can be used in your home. 

At this stage, you might be wondering what glass is used for solar panels, and which metal is used for solar panels. Let’s break it down.

The wires in solar panels are metal. They’re typically made from aluminum or copper. Silver is used to connect the wires, as it is a good conductor. This just means electricity can move through it easily.

The PV cells are covered by a layer of glass. It’s important for this layer of glass to be covered by an anti-reflective coating. This protects the silicon cells, but still lets light through so that the solar energy can be stored.

Silicon PV Cells

There are three types of silicon PV cells used to make solar panels. They are the following:

Monocrystalline Silicon Cells

These are made from a single silicon crystal. They’re the most expensive PV cells, but they generate the most electricity, making them the most efficient.

Polycrystalline Silicon Cells

Polycrystalline cells are made by melding together multiple silicon crystals. They make a decent amount of electricity and are more affordable than monocrystalline silicon cells. They’re the most popular option for rooftop solar panels.

Thin-film Silicon Cells

These are made from something called amorphous silicon. They’re used to make flexible solar panels that you can travel with. They’re popular among outdoor enthusiasts. They don’t store as much power as the above options, but they’re perfect if you’re on the move and need some power.

what are solar panels made out of

The type of solar panel you choose depends on what you need from it, and how much you need to power. Did you know that you can get solar panel kits that are made to travel with you?

They’re perfect for you if you’re wanting to try out solar panels, but don’t want to spend time shopping for all the components needed to set up your off-the-grid power source.

How Solar Panels Are Made

The manufacturing process for solar panels has become standardized and streamlined as they’ve become more popular. 

First, solar cells are made. The silicon is melted down and mixed with supportive elements. The melted down mixture is used to make sheets of material. This is then cut into the component cells that are used in the solar panel.

This part of the process is done in mass production factories. Laser cutting is used to expedite the cutting process. Once the cells are created, they’re coated with a protective layer of glass or plastic, depending on the manufacturer.

Next, the completed solar cells are connected together in the right shape, configuration and size. This is done by soldering them to the panel base, which is a conductive metal. 

The base needs to be a conductive metal because this is how the electricity is moved from the panel to your house. There are wires connected between the base and your house’s electricity grid. 

Lastly, the unit is placed inside a protective plastic frame. This insulates all the electrical components and protects them with a layer of glass. It’s then placed into a box and sent out to installers.

Solar Panel Safety

The idea of harnessing solar power to make electricity is relatively new, leading many to wonder whether solar panels are safe

how solar panels are made

There’s no evidence that they’re harmful to human health. They emit very weak electromagnetic fields, and humans being exposed to this low level of electromagnetic fields have been studied extensively. 

This means that although the technology might be new, we know it’s safe for human use.

Some people have also shown concern about solar panels potentially causing cancer. Luckily, there is no evidence of solar panels being carcinogenic. The concern stems from the fact that the panels emit a small amount of radiation, so it’s understandable.

We know that solar panels don’t cause cancer because the levels of electromagnetic fields and radiation they emit are within set limits. These standards are set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and are backed by years of safety research.

In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, we know that solar panels are a safe and cost-effective way to power your home. 

They can power more than just your home though: you can purchase flexible solar power kits which can be used while you’re on the move to power small electronic devices.

Solar panel kits are made using silicon PV cells combined with other materials such as wires, a glass protective layer, and a protective casing. This casing keeps your solar panels safe from the elements but also keeps you safe by eliminating any risk associated with electromagnetic fields and radiation.

The result is a safe, efficient product that you can use to reduce your electricity bill at home.

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