What You Should Know About Thin-Film Solar Panels

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According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar power accounted for 58% of all new generating capacity added in the U.S. from January to March 2021. This is backed by solar experiencing a 37% growth in 2020. The solar energy market is blazing hot! Maybe you’ve heard of thin-film solar panels, but not sure what makes this type of panel special. So, it makes sense to learn about thin-film solar panels and how they may benefit your house.

What are Thin-Film Solar Panels?

Here’s an amazing fact. Thin-film solar panels are produced with solar cells about the thickness of a human hair. These cells have light absorbing layers almost 350 times smaller than traditional rigid solar panels. Manufacturers make these panels by distributing a small amount of silicon on a plate made of ceramics or glass. One benefit is they are less costly to manufacture. They also offer the lightest photovoltaic (PVC) cell while being highly durable.

Thin-film solar panels are generally produced with one of the following technologies:

  • Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)
  • Amorphous Silicon (a-Si)
  • Copper Gallium Indium Diselenide (CIGS)
  • Gallium Arsenide (GaAs)
  • Organic photovoltaic (OPV)

Cadmium Telluride is the most widely used thin-film technology as the panels can absorb sunlight near the ideal wavelength. Amorphous Silicon is the next most popular thin-film option on the market. These panels are bendable and crack less often than traditional solar panels. Gallium Arsenide and Copper Gallium are mostly used for spacecrafts and are very costly to produce. Organic photovoltaic cells can be colored and even produced as transparent cells. Though OPV panels are easy to manufacture and low cost, they are less efficient and have shorter lifespans.

The thin material these types of solar panels use allows some of them to be made for solar products, such as solar shingles and tiles. Keep in mind traditional solar panels typically range from 16% to 23% in efficiency. Thin-film solar panels, flexible with a wide variety of manufacturing options, are only 7% to 19% efficient. You would need to install more of these panels to produce the same amount of electricity as crystalline or polycrystalline rigid solar panels which can have efficiency rates over 33% for top-of-the-line panels.

Overall, thin-film solar panels are an excellent choice when needing to have lightweight, flexible, and adaptable panels. These panels excel in low light conditions, when skies are overcast, at producing more clean energy than other types of rigid panels.

Ready to begin saving money on your monthly utility bills? Call the Cool Blew Solar panel installation experts at 623-234-2836.