What is a Solar Panel?
We keep hearing about renewable energy, and how solar panels can help home owners reduce their carbon footprint and save (or even make) money. But what are solar panels, solar cells, solar modules and solar photovoltaic systems? There are so many words associated with solar that it can be a bit difficult understanding they all mean. So here it is!
It starts with a solar cell. A solar cell, also known as a photovoltaic (PV) cell is an electrical device that converts the energy in light into electricity. These cells are made of semiconducting material, which means they can carry electricity. Because they do carry electricity, it is very important that they are installed by certified electricians, to prevent injuries and fatalities.
These solar cells are put together to form a module, which you would see as a stand-alone square or rectangle. We put these solar modules together to form a solar panel. The solar PV units used all together form what is called a solar array. A full solar PV system includes the solar array, plus all of the mounting equipment, hardware, inverters, and grid connection.
What are solar cells made of? The most prevalent material used in the production of solar cells is crystalline silicon. This is a semi-conducting crystalline form of silicon either made of small crystals or a continuous crystal. Mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline are the two most commonly used types of crystalline silicon.
Mono-crystalline cells tend to be black in colour. In this form, the silicon is formed into bars and then cut into wafers. It is often more efficient and therefore more expensive.
The second common crystalline silicon used is Poly-crystalline. This type of module is typically blue in colour. Poly-crystalline is formed by melting silicon fragments together to form wafers, and is often less expensive because it is slightly less efficient.
Which material should you look for as a consumer? You may think you need the polycrystalline in order for your solar PV system to work well, but this is often not the case. While monocrystalline modules are typically more efficient, often times polycrystalline modules are just as effective. Ask your solar PV installation provider if you have any concerns about which ones they are recommending, and why they are suggesting either product for your solar PV system.
If you’re still not sure what you need, leave it to us! We will design a system custom to your needs and property. We’ll answer all your questions, and leave you with a high functioning solar PV system that will meet all your electricity needs for years to come!
Call us for more information!