How Are Solar Panels Made?

Solar panels harness the sun’s immense power, converting it into electricity that powers our homes, businesses, and an array of devices. While the concept might sound intricate, the manufacturing process of these panels is a testament to both simplicity and genius. At their core, solar panels are assembled from fundamental components such as solar cells, silicon, metal, and glass. When used together, these materials capture and convert sunlight into usable energy, leading to a more sustainable future.

Delve into the intricate world of solar panel manufacturing. Discover the journey from raw materials to the carefully constructed modules ready for installation. It starts with designing and making solar cells, then putting them in strong metals and covering them with good glass.

By understanding this, we appreciate the technology on our rooftops and recognize the progress in sustainable energy solutions. Learn about the skills, creativity, and commitment involved in making each panel before a professional installs them on your home.

Solar Panel Origins

While solar panel production occurs worldwide, including in the U.S and Europe, a significant portion comes from various Asian nations. Shifting production to countries with more affordable labor has become the norm in many industries.

However, many top-tier panels are produced in the U.S, ensuring quality throughout the manufacturing stages. For instance, brands like Panasonic and Mission Solar are exemplary in this regard. Panasonic divides its manufacturing between the U.S. and Malaysia, whereas Mission Solar exclusively produces in the U.S.

Conversely, Jinko Solar, a more budget-friendly option than Panasonic or Mission Solar, has its manufacturing hub in China. Canadian Solar, another brand, originates from Canada.

It’s essential to note that a panel’s individual raw materials are globally sourced, with supply chains spanning various nations. For those keen on U.S.-made panels, there’s a wide array to select from.

Solar Panel Materials

Fundamentally, solar panels are made from solar PV cells, silicon (polysilicon or otherwise), metal, and glass. Solar cells are paramount, converting solar radiation into electricity. These cells, the panel’s photovoltaic component, convert sun rays into energy.

Comprising silicon, these cells are shielded by a glass layer, permitting sunlight to reach the cells and initiate energy generation. Once exposed to sunlight, these cells produce an electric current, which an inverter then translates to usable AC power.

Cells are connected with wiring, covered by a backsheet and glass, and held in a metal frame. The backsheet acts as an insulation, safeguarding the cells from environmental hazards and potential electrical faults. EVA is important for protecting cells and capturing light, while also stopping moisture from getting in.

The metal frame provides rigidity, enhances durability, and facilitates easy mounting. Other materials, such as anti-reflective coatings, improve efficiency by minimizing sunlight reflection, allowing for better light absorption.

To grasp the intricacies of solar panel creation, let’s unpack the production process:

Steps for Solar Panel Creation

Step 1: Develop either p-type or n-type solar silicon cells, which means positive or negative charge. Traditionally, p-type cells were the norm. These have a positive base layer mixed with boron, while the top layer contains phosphorus. N-type cells, however, have an inverse structure and are known for their efficiency and resilience to extreme sunlight.

Step 2: Connect solar cells to create a single panel; typically, 60 to 72 cells form one. This arrangement ensures optimal energy output and coverage. Proper interconnection is crucial, as it ensures the seamless flow of generated electricity.

Step 3: Affix the backsheet for solar cell protection. This layer safeguards the cells from moisture, environmental wear, and potential electrical mishaps, providing longevity to the solar module.

Step 4: Add a glass front, permitting sunlight to reach the cells and providing a protective barrier. This specialized tempered glass ensures maximum light permeation while offering resistance against external impacts.

Step 5: Enclose the panel within a metal frame using silicon. This structure not only provides support but also offers mounting points and protection from the environment.

Step 6: Attach a junction box safeguarding the panel’s wiring. This component acts as a hub for electrical connections, ensuring safety and efficient energy transfer.

Step 7: Assess the panel’s quality and robustness before dispatch. Rigorous quality assurance tests are done to ensure each panel’s efficiency, durability, and safety.

Post-quality checks, panels are ready for deployment, whether on residential rooftops or vast solar farms. Different types of solar panels have consistent production methods, but each has unique attributes for specific needs and environments. Innovations in material science and manufacturing processes continue to advance the solar industry, promising more efficient and sustainable energy solutions.

Solar Panel Types

There are 3 main types of solar panels. The primary solar panel categories include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Monocrystalline panels derive from a single silicon crystal, while polycrystalline ones involve melting multiple crystals together. Monocrystalline versions, being more efficient, are generally pricier than their polycrystalline counterparts.

For those prioritizing aesthetics, cost, and efficiency, consultation with a solar expert will help in determining the ideal fit.

Thin-film panels are predominantly reserved for large-scale solar projects, attributed to their lower efficiency. These panels are different from mono and poly types. They use a thin photovoltaic layer, like cadmium telluride, on glass.

Thin-film panels are cheap and easy to install, but they are not efficient or durable enough for most home installations.

Quality Control of Solar Panels

Throughout the manufacturing journey, materials undergo scrutiny for defects. Any compromised solar cells get discarded. Each constructed panel faces extensive testing against adverse weather conditions, potential wear and tear, and electrical efficiency.

Laboratories simulate extreme temperatures, strong winds, hail impacts, and prolonged UV exposure to assess resilience. Technicians monitor power output and degradation over time to ensure longevity.

Additionally, quality control specialists inspect the junction box, frame, and connectors for any inconsistencies. Interconnection tests ensure optimal energy transfer. Beyond physical assessments, panels undergo electromagnetic interference testing to validate safe operation. By maintaining these stringent standards, manufacturers ensure the highest panel performance and reliability for end-users.

Crafting DIY Solar Panels: A Good Idea?

While assembling your solar panels might seem tempting, the risks, such as potential fires, overshadow the DIY allure. Professionally produced solar panels undergo stringent quality checks, ensuring longevity and safety. 

Collaborating with a seasoned solar installer guarantees high-grade materials, ensuring the panels serve you for their designated lifespan. Transitioning to solar panels is a commendable move towards a cleaner, greener future.

Call 8MSolar for help with a solar panel system that will lead you to sustainability.

FREE Virtual Consultation