Solar Panel Size: What Size Panels You Should Produce?
As we continue to search for sustainable energy sources, solar power has emerged as one of the most promising options. One of the key components of solar panels is the solar cell, which converts sunlight into electricity.
In this article, we will explore the different sizes of solar panels that can be produced in a solar production line, and discuss how to choose the optimal size for your needs.
Sizes Of Solar Panels In A Solar Production Line
Solar panels come in three main sizes, namely 60-cell, 72-cell, and 96-cell. The 60 and 72-cell solar photovoltaic panel size are the most commonly used for residential purposes. The 96-cell measures 17.5 square feet which makes it far too large for residential purposes. It’s much more suited to commercial use.
As you may have guessed, the more cells a solar panel has, the larger and more expensive it will be. 72-cell solar panels have more, so are larger than 60-cell panels. The same goes for 96-cell panels.
While panels with more cells are heavier and take up more space, they also produce more energy. A 96-cell panel has a higher wattage than a 72-cell solar panel. A 72-cell PV panel has a higher wattage than a 60-cell panel. This makes them more suited for larger commercial uses like factories or warehouses where energy demand is higher.
60-cell solar panels are the most commonly used in residential installations
Solar Cells And Solar Panel Production
Solar cells are electronic devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They are the building blocks of PV panels, which are used to generate electricity from the sun. The solar panel manufacturing process involves assembling several solar cells together, connecting them with wires, and enclosing them in a protective casing.
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A solar cell is made up of several layers of semiconductor materials, usually silicon. When sunlight hits the cell, it excites the electrons in the semiconductor material, causing them to flow through the cell and generate electricity. The process of making a solar cell involves several steps and machines, including:
- Growing a thin layer of silicon on a substrate
- Doping the silicon with impurities to create a p-n junction
- Applying a metal contact to the top and bottom of the cell
- Testing and sorting the solar cells based on their electrical properties
types of solar cells and their Characteristics
There are several types of solar cells, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common types of solar cells are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film.
Monocrystalline Solar Cells
Monocrystalline solar cells are made from single-crystal silicon. Manufacturing monocrystalline silicon is very slow and expensive compared to polycrystalline. However, the demand for monocrystalline silicon continues to rise due to its superior performance.
The main advantage of monocrystalline solar cells is their higher efficiency compared to all other types of solar cells. The main disadvantage of monocrystalline solar cells is they are the most expensive.
Monocrystalline solar cells produce the most efficient solar panels
Polycrystalline Solar Cells
Like monocrystalline, polycrystalline solar cells are made from silicon. The difference between them lies in manufacturing. Whereas monocrystalline cells are made from a single silicon crystal, polycrystalline solar cells are made from multiple silicon crystals melted together.
The main advantage of polycrystalline solar cells is they are cheaper compared to monocrystalline ones. However, these solar cells are a little less efficient than monocrystalline solar cells due to the way they are made.
Polycrystalline solar cells are typically cheaper than monocrystalline
Thin-Film Solar Cells
Thin-film solar cells are the least popular type of solar cell. Thin-film solar cells are made by depositing a layer of photovoltaic material onto a substrate, such as glass, plastic, or metal. These solar cells are a few nanometers thick and are much thinner than the wafers used in either polycrystalline or monocrystalline cells.
This manufacturing method gives thin film one significant advantage over crystalline cells. Thin-film solar cells are lighter and more flexible due to their thin construction. They are also much cheaper to produce.
With that said, thin-film solar cells are nowhere near as efficient as silicon-based solar cells. This is the primary reason why they are not popular as other panels.
You can find out more about the differences between monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film solar cells in our article which explores what solar panel types manufacturers can produce.
Overview Of How A Solar Panel Is Made
The solar cell is the primary component of a solar panel. Once the solar cells have been manufactured, they are assembled into solar panels. The assembly process involves several steps, including:
- Laying out the solar cells in a specific pattern
- Soldering the cells together to create a circuit
- Encasing the cells in a protective material, such as glass or plastic
- Adding a backing material to provide structural support
All these steps are carried out by machines such as stringers and laminators. Here is a more detailed explanation of the solar panel machines that used in solar panel assembly.
Future Solar Panel Technologies
From our discussion of solar panel size and efficiency, it’s clear how important squeezing the most energy from a solar panel is. This is why there is a lot of research and development of new solar technologies. Two interesting developments in solar module design are bifacials and perovskites.
Bifacials are simply two-sided solar panels. They collect light on both sides of a panel while also following the sun throughout the day. This allows them to produce up to 9% more energy than single-sided solar panels.
The major downside to bifacials is they are far more expensive than their single-sided cousins. This makes them unsuited for residential purposes.
Perovskites are an emerging solar cell technology that is still under development. They are a promising replacement for silicon wafer solar modules as they are cheaper to make and more efficient.
At present, however, perovskites have a shorter lifespan compared to silicon modules. This is why they are yet to make it to mass production. Should they become viable, perovskite cells will offer a drastically cheaper and less resource-intensive solar cell.
Conclusion And Key Takeaways
Choosing which solar panel size to produce largely depends on your budget and your target market. If you are on a thin budget you may want to produce smaller solar panel sizes as it is cheaper. If you want to produce solar panels for the commercial market then you will have to produce larger solar panel sizes.