Main Ingredients of Solar Panels

by scrubbo on January 26, 2011

There is a lot of talk about solar panels these days, because of climate change and all the other green energy related technologies. Pretty much anybody is familiar with them and many already use it. What are the ingredients required to make a solar panel?

The single most important element required to make a solar panel is silicone. Special properties of this material allow light particles to be absorbed and solar power to be generated. Scientists do look for alternatives, but so far if you are going to buy a solar panel, it’s going to be a silicone based panel, because this technology exists for decades, proven and there is plenty of silicone (think sand) around.

Simplest solar panel is made out of solar cells. Each solar cell is basically a thin piece cut off the one silicone crystal. Every piece is made smooth and applied some additives to increase light absorption. In more advanced design silicone is sprayed to form a thin surface. A few layers applied one on top of the other to make sure maximum light is absorbed by it. No matter of technique, the main ingredient stays silicone.

Now you have your silicone solar cells, but you will need to connect them together if you want to generate any significant electricity. Each cell is an independent electric generator, but they don’t output high voltages. For example one silicone cell can give you 0.5 Volts, if you want to be able to charge your 12V batteries you will probably need a 16V solar panel, so all you have to do is to connect 32 cells together. Tin covered copper ribbon is most commonly used conductor to connect (solder) your cells together.

Now you have an array of silicone cells soldered together, maybe you are making a solar panel for rv for example. You will have to protect it from snow, rain and hail. So the last most important ingredient is a protective cover. It has to be transparent and sturdy to withstand various kinds of weather abuse. Glass or plexiglass works best.

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