How Are DIY Solar Panels Made? Posted on 12 May 07:30
DIY solar panels come in different sizes, models and brands. However, do-it-yourself photovoltaic modules all share a similar manufacturing process.
Although you don’t need to know how they’re made to install — and save money with — a PV panel array at your home, it will help you make better choices when selecting the equipment for your solar kit.
DIY Solar Panels Use Crystalline Silicon to Collect Sunlight
Most photovoltaic panels on the market today use crystalline silicon in their solar cells. Two forms are commonly used with DIY solar modules: monocrystalline silicon and polycrystalline silicon.
With the monocrystalline form, the silicon cells are manufactured from a single crystal. Polycrystalline cells are made by melting multiple silicon crystals together. The crystalline silicon is cut into thin disks, usually less than half an inch thick. As the slicing can damage the fragile cells, the disks are then treated and polished.
Next, metal conductors and dopants, or trace impurity elements that affect the electrical properties of the silicon, are added. The conductors are then aligned in grid format, spread to make a flat sheet of solar cells.
Glass and Substrate Materials Protect the Silicon Sheets
As we mentioned, solar cells are delicate. For protection from the elements, the front of the crystalline silicon sheet is covered with a thin layer of tempered glass, a material that resists breakage.
At the back, the solar sheet is attached to a supportive substrate. The substrate is typically made of aluminum, plastic or polyimide, though other durable materials may be used instead.
To attach the substrate, photovoltaic manufacturers use a thermally conductive cement to help keep the DIY solar modules from overheating. Overheating can damage the silicon cells and reduce efficiency.
But this thermal cement may not be enough to prevent overheating. As an added measure, do-it-yourselfers should make sure their photovoltaic panels are mounted in a way that allows for adequate airflow under and around the panels.
Aluminum Frames Strengthen DIY Solar Panels
On most do-it-yourself photovoltaic panels, an aluminum frame surrounds the glass-solar/silicon/sheet-substrate sandwich. This framing adds strength to the structure and protects the edges of the solar modules from damage and moisture infiltration.
In addition, the frames allow the solar panels to be mounted in a variety of ways. With the proper racking components, photovoltaic modules can be placed on any rooftop material, including asphalt or wood shingles, clay or concrete tiles and metal roofing. And the panels can easily be mounted at the proper angle to harness the maximum amount of the sun’s energy.
If the roof isn’t suitable, the aluminum frame allows photovoltaic panels to be safely and securely mounted at ground level.
Solar GOODs, your online superstore for energy independence, has everything you need to design your own cost-effective, do-it-yourself photovoltaic system. To explore our many options for DIY solar panels, visit our website today.