Solar Panels – Definition, Glossary, Details – Solar Mango

Solar panels are active devices that convert light into electricity. Hence solar panels are also called photovoltaics because of their ability to generate electricity from the photons in sunlight.

Solar cells are capable of producing less than 1 V of electricity each. This doesn’t amount to useable voltage. Hence solar cells are assembled together to form a solar panels of desired power and voltage rating.

Coming to how solar panels work, the basic unit of a solar panel is the solar cell. These solar cells are silicon based and they absorb photons in sunlight. This absorption of energy makes them release electrons from silicon atoms and when the electrons are captured, we’ve electricity!

Solar panels are based on various technologies. The major categories are:

  • Monocrystalline based:Monocrystalline solar panels are made from high purity silicon. Here each solar cell is cut from a single, continuous piece of silicon crystal. They are the most efficient as well as expensive technology.
  • Polycrystalline based:Polycrystalline (also called multicrystalline) solar panels are also based on silicon. But these consist of multiple small silicon crystals unlike the homogenous structure that the Monocrystalline technology has.
  • Thin-Film technology:Thin-film solar panels are usually either amorphous Silicon based or Cadmium Telluride based. As the name suggests, they use a much thinner level of photovoltaic material than the other technologies. They are therefore relatively cheaper but come at an expense of compromised efficiency.