There’s more choice for the consumer than ever before in solar technology today. In fact, installations grew 43 percent in 2020, even with the effects of the pandemic. So, the popularity of solar energy is growing, but what are customers choosing most for panels?
There has been a lot of news lately about thin-film solar panels. This is one of the new types of solar panels available on the market now. But, if you’re wondering what the difference is with a thin film solar panel, keep reading.
This solar panel installation guide will help you make an informed buying decision.
A Brief History of Solar Technology
We should begin with a basic understanding of how solar energy has evolved. Humans have been using the sun’s energy for almost three thousand years. But it’s only in the last twenty that major developments have advanced the technology.
Photovoltaic (PV) energy was a 19th-century discovery. But it wasn’t until recently that scientists concerned themselves with reducing the cost. The earliest practical application for a consumer product came with polysilicon.
Researchers found that crystalline wafers were most effective in harnessing the sun’s energy. This type of solar panel is also more resistant to overheating than others. But supply chain backlogs from the pandemic have made the material more costly.
Economics spurred science to develop new technology faster. As a result, thin-film solar has become a viable alternative.
The Evolution of Thin Film Solar Panels
Enter the thin film solution. Thin-film solar panels consist of cadmium telluride, a mixture of refined ores. It’s more a crystalline base than silicon. Not only is thin-film solar less expensive to manufacture, but it’s much lighter in weight.
Low cost and reduced weight are the key features that solar research teams look for today. Yet, there are drawbacks to these types of solar panels. The thin-film solar panel cost is less to produce. But solar power installation could cost more because of the special equipment needed.
But efficiency is the issue. Compared to silicon solar panels, thin-film solar panels produce far less energy. The latest figures show that to equal the output of silicon, a roof would need 50 percent more space with thin-film panels.
If you have the space for more panels, there are some advantages to thin-film solar. Thin-film solar panels perform better in extreme heat. They keep a better temperature coefficient than silicon panels. Because of this, your solar panel maintenance cost could be lower. In short, they have a longer lifespan.
The Final Comparison
The difference to you as a consumer comes down to three factors. Choosing a thin solar panel for your home can work if you have enough space to make up for the power deficiency.
Your solar panel cost will be offset by the life of the material. But there is one more consideration. The initial material has less environmental effect than silicon. Yet, thin-film solar increases in toxicity as it ages.
So, it comes down to a trade-off decision of short-term versus long-term effects. Whichever type of solar panels you choose, know you’re still on the path to cleaner energy. Technology is improving every day. So, be sure to come back for more informative pieces like this one.
Read More: Five Ways To Use Solar Energy At Home