Solar Nerd articles about: Panel Technology

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The disappearing polycrystalline solar panel
Most solar panels on the market today as made with silicon. There are two types: polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon. To make monocrystalline solar cells, a single large crystal is grown. In contrast, polycrystalline silicon is made from small crystals that are formed into a larger ingot. With both types, the silicon is sliced into thin wafers to make individual silicon cells. Growing a large crystal of silicon is a more difficult process, which is why monocrystalline solar panels have traditionally been more expensive.
What are CdTe solar panels?
Most solar panels today - and virtually all that are sold for residential use - are made with silicon solar cells. Hundreds of millions of polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon solar panels are manufactured annually. The economies of scale of this global manufacturing make it difficult for new technologies to break into the market, but one that has carved out a sizable market share is cadmium telluride. Also referred to as CadTel or CdTe for the atomic symbols for cadmium and tellurium, this is a thin film solar technology.
Closeup photo of a solar panel
When will solar panels be more efficient?
When it comes to buying solar panels for your home, the first thing that manufacturers usually tout is the panel’s efficiency. Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight hitting the panel that gets converted into electricity. The intensity of sunlight can be expressed in watts - the same unit used to measure electrical power. For example, if 1,000 watts of sunlight is shining on your solar panel and it generate 200 watts of electricity, the panel is 20% efficient.
Photo of a home solar array.
What are the best solar panels for your home?
Are you a meticulous number cruncher who breaks out the spreadsheet whenever you’re planning a big product purchase? I certainly am. The last time I bought a car, and made a spreadsheet with the specifications of all the car models I was considering. I rank-ordered them in each of the categories that were important to me, and made my decision based on which one performed the best. Figuring out which solar panel is best for you is a little like that, although with this article I hope to make is less complicated for you.