How Do I Choose The Right Solar Cells?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: Solar technology is coming fast and I want to get on board, but there are different varieties of solar cells. How do I choose the right solar cells?

Answer: Solar cells come in a variety of types, with silicon-based solar cells being the most popular. The advantages of silicon over its competitors are its efficiency rating. When sunlight hits solar cells, a reaction takes place that generates electricity. Silicon is able to convert around 20% of the sun’s energy into electricity.

The main drawback to using silicon-based solar cells is cost. Silicon can be expensive to manufacture, and the semiconductor industry hasn’t found a way to reduce its price significantly yet.

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As an alternative to silicon-based cells, other materials are becoming increasingly popular. Some alternatives are organic solar cells, which taps into the molecular structure of certain materials and uses their chemical makeup to interact with sunlight and produce electricity.

The main advantage of organic cells is cost; they are much cheaper to manufacture then their silicon counterparts. While the biggest drawback is (you guessed it) efficiency, as organic solar cells can typically convert only 5% of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. It would require purchasing and installing more organic solar cells to produce the same amount of power silicon-based cells could produce.

In the future solar cells may be available that use photosynthesis, the chemical process that plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Fortunately, whether you choose silicon-based solar cells, or their less expensive competitors, DIY kits are available which can cut back on installation costs.

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