Solar Cell Modules manufacturers use different types of solar cells and solar technologies, but the most commonly used material for solar cells is silicon (Si). Silicon is a key component of different types of solar panels, each with advantages and disadvantages. However, depending on how you use solar energy, it is important to understand the benefits of any emerging solar cell technology using other technologies or materials.
Solar cells are made of silicon with positive and negative layers to generate an electric field, similar to a battery. Most solar panels are made of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon.
Average efficiency range: 15%-24%
How it is made: Wafers are cut from single-crystal blocks of high-purity silicon, whose cells form unique shapes.
Appearance: The monocrystalline battery has a uniform appearance, a small black square with notches in the corners. Solar panels made with these solar cells typically have white or black back sheets.
Features: These panels conduct electricity more efficiently and perform better in hot and cool conditions, allowing them to generate more solar energy than other panels of the same size. Since this type of technology is the most mature, it also has a proven track record of durability. However, they are the most expensive panels and generate more waste during the manufacturing process.
Polycrystalline (or polycrystalline) silicon
Average efficiency range: 12%-16%
How it's made: Fragments of multiple silicon crystals are heated, melted, and pressed together to form a large solar cell.
Appearance: These solar cells have a faceted, uneven, gem-like surface, usually blue.
Features: Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient but less expensive and less wasteful in the silicon manufacturing process. These are the most popular solar panels globally, largely due to the boom in production in China over the past few years. Additionally, these solar cells are covered by a glass casing, usually made of anti-reflective glass, to increase sunlight absorption and increase the efficiency of the solar panel, while also being protected by a back sheet.