Solar Panels : An eco-friendly electric generator
Solar panels generate free power from the sun by converting sunlight to electricity with no moving parts, zero emissions, and no maintenance. The solar panel, the first component of a electric solar power system, is a collection of individual silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight. The photons (light particles) produce an electrical current as they strike the surface of the thin silicon wafers.
The first component needed is one or more Solar Panels. They supply the electricity and charge the batteries. A very small system could get away with a couple 240 watt panels but figure at least 4 to 8 for a small to medium system.
The 3 basic types of Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels :
The most efficient (15 – 20%) and expensive solar panels are made with Monocrystalline cells. These solar cells use very pure silicon and involve a complicated crystal growth process. Long silicon rods are produced which are cut into slices of .2 to .4 mm thick discs or wafers which are then processed into individual cells that are wired together in the solar panel.
Polycrystalline solar panels :
Often called Multi-crystalline, solar panels made with Polycrystalline cells are a little less expensive & slightly less efficient than Monocrystalline cells because the cells are not grown in single crystals but in a large block of many crystals. This is what gives them that striking shattered glass appearance. Like Monocrystalline cells, they are also then sliced into wafers to produce 12 the individual cells that make up the solar panel.
Amorphous solar panels :
These are not really crystals, but a thin layer of silicon deposited on a base material such as metal or glass to create the solar panel.
These Amorphous solar panels are much cheaper, but their energy efficiency is also much less so more square footage is required to produce the same amount of power as the Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline type of solar panel. Amorphous solar panels can even be made into long sheets of roofing material to cover large areas of a south facing roof surface.