Thin Film Solar Panels
Introduction to Thin Film Solar Panels
The amount of people using solar panels as a means of generating electricity is constantly on the rise. The old solar panels may now be history. That is because of the new technology using thin film photovoltaic cells.
What are Thin Film Solar Panels?
Anybody that has used a sun powered calculator will have seen the strip across the top that uses the sun to power the calculator. Most thin film solar cells on a calculator are only about an inch in length yet they work great. This works exactly the same as the thin film solar panels that may be seen on rooftops. They are much smaller in size yet work just the same, if not better, than the original solar panels.
Thin Film Solar Panel Production
Reams of aluminium foil get rolled through large presses very similar to those that are used when printing newspapers. After this, a printer is used to deposit a thin layer of semiconducting ink. Another press is then used to deposit the CdS (Cadmium sulfide) and ZnO (Zinc oxide) layers. The final step of the process is the cutting of the foil which is the finished product of the thin film solar cells.
Thin film solar panels are a lot easier to install than the original chunky solar panels. They only take about 5 - 10 minutes to install from start to finish and are simply fixed in place with an adhesive. Then the output from the PV gets connected to an inverter and then the switch is flipped. The main reason for this is the weight- the original panels are very heavy whereas the thin film solar panels are very light. Because of the ease of installation, it means that the costs have come down when hiring a contractor to install them. This type of solar panel is now moving on from just being for the home and can now be seen on cars too.
Unlike the original big and heavy solar panels, thin film solar panels use a lot less raw materials to manufacture them. Because of the thickness of the cells they can easily be placed anywhere they are needed.
After understanding the technology of thin film solar energy it is much easier to imagine a future where this will be used by many more home owners and car manufacturers alike.
- Cost - Thin film solar panels are continuously getting cheaper and will probably continue to do so which makes them a great alternative for powering a home.
- Application - They no longer have to be placed on a roof. Because of the flexibility, it is now easy to apply them to cars, backpacks and clothing among many other things.
- Fewer defects - There are much fewer defects with the thin film solar panels due to the much simpler process of manufacturing.
- Performance - Unlike the original solar panels, thin film panels work much better in shaded areas and areas with low light.