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Solar Manufacturing – Exhaustive Expert Review

Solar manufacturing is the process of making solar panels, which are made of cells, that convert energy from the sun into electric energy. Silicon stands as the major material that is used in manufacturing solar panels. Solar panels are mostly either monocrystalline or polycrystalline in nature.

As people embrace solar energy, it becomes more clear to arm yourself with the inner operations of solar panel manufacturing. This article aims to explain several key aspects of the manufacturing of solar panels. Let us embark on this difficult but easy to understand process.

Understanding Solar Manufacturing?

Solar manufacturing involves the making and brining together of diverse parts and materials across the solar value chain, with the main part being solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. These panels have numerous smaller parts, such as wafers, cells, glass, back sheets, and frames.

Apart from panels, producing various other products is necessary for solar energy systems, including inverters, wiring, combiner boxes, and racking and tracking structures. And that’s only considering PV systems. For concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) systems, additional manufacturing is required for heliostats, receivers, and thermal storage systems.

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Types of Solar Panels

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

The efficacy of polycrystalline solar panels needs to improve compared to their monocrystalline silicon counterparts, usually staying below the 17% mark. Nonetheless, their strength lies in their cheap prices, which makes them a more economically viable option.

The importance of added efficiency truly emerges when faced with spatial challenges on your rooftop. In turn, this will force you to make good use of the available area.

In situations where space poses no challenges, one can increase the number of polycrystalline panels to compensate for their comparatively lower efficiency. It is extremely important to dispel the misconception that lower efficiency equals bogus quality when looking at solar panels.

In the case of polycrystalline panels, their relatively reduced efficiency can be connected to their material characteristics. These panels consist of multiple silicon crystals per cell instead of a single crystal that aids the electron-carrying process more efficiently.

Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels come with durable manufacturer warranties, which goes to show their dedication to providing top-notch products.

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  • Includes 10AWG MC4 connectors and mounting hardware.
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DOKIO Semi-Flexible Solar Panel 100W
  • The DOKIO Semi-Flexible Solar Panel 100W 12V Bendable Thin Film Monocrystalline.
  • Offers an easy and efficient way to power your home, cabin, RV, boat, or any other off-grid application.
  • High efficiency solar panel is made with a semi-flexible monocrystalline material. Incredibly lightweight and thin. Can be bent up to 30 degrees. Perfect for a variety of curved surfaces.
  • The included junction box is water-resistant. Includes a set of MC4 connectors for quick and easy installation.
  • 600W of energy per hour in direct sunlight.
  • Durable and reliable.

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Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels exhibit the utmost efficacy ratings within solar energy. These panels possess the ability to usually convert more than 20% of solar radiation into electrical power, with the most advanced panels now going past an efficiency of 22%.

Opting for mono panels proves highly advantageous when you lack enough space on your rooftop, as they produce high electricity output per square foot. Another key point is that mono solar panels are distinguished by their black photovoltaic cells. And many potential users and buyers prefer this aesthetic appeal over the lighter blue hue of poly solar panels.

The primary disadvantage of these panels resides in their high buying price. However, as a trade-off, they provide a high electricity output for each panel bought.

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Thin-Film Solar Panels

Unlike polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panels, thin film solar panels are not divided into cells. Instead, these panels cover their entire surface with layers of photovoltaic material.

One advantage of the thin film that clearly stands out lies in its obvious flexibility and light weight, owing to its use of material layers as opposed to rigid cells.

Furthermore, one can find adhesive thin-film panels that can be used on windows and other vertical surfaces. These panels have gained popularity, particularly within RV solar energy systems.

However, it is worth noting that thin film panels generally lag behind the other two types in terms of efficiency. Additionally, thin films require a larger surface area to match the amount of solar power that monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels produce.

Due to this characteristic, thin film finds its niche in vast commercial and industrial roofs and ground-mounted solar farms. Conversely, thin film panels are not usually widely accepted for home applications due to their spatial demands, often overshadowing their productivity potential.

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How Solar Panels Are Made

Refining Raw Materials

Silicon is the second most available element on Earth, following oxygen. Silicon compounds are present in rocks, sand, clay, water, plants, and even certain animals. To purify silicon, it has to be heated to its boiling point at 1,410°C.

This high temperature helps with the extraction of cylindrical crystals from the molten silicon, ultimately creating single crystals. Especially, single crystals are formed by extracting cylindrical crystals from molten silicon.

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Monocrystalline solar panel cells come from a solitary silicon crystal, similar to the concept of single origin coffee. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels are made up of a blend of silicon crystals, which result in a slightly reduced efficiency compared to their monocrystalline solar panels.

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Solar Panel Manufacturing Process

The initial step in making of the solar panels includes the removal of impurities from silicon gotten from quartz sand. Following the purification process, the silicon is consolidated into solid masses that look like rocks. Subsequently, these masses are melted together, giving rise to cylindrical ingots.

Furthermore, a steel furnace with a cylindrical shape is employed to achieve the desired form. Throughout the manufacturing process, great attention is paid to making sure all atoms align in the desired orientation and structure.

In order to produce positive electrical polarity upon the silicon, boron is added into the process. Monocrystalline cells, which give a single silicon crystal, exhibit remarkable efficiency at a higher cost.

On the other hand, for polycrystalline cells, multiple silicon crystals are melted together. These panels bear a broken up, glass like appearance due to various silicon crystals. Once the resulting ingot has significantly cooled, it is carefully polished to yield flat surfaces.


Making Wafers During Solar Manufacturing

The stage that follows in the production of solar panels follows the creation of ingots. When producing wafers, the cylindrical ingot goes through a process of precision slicing into thin discs. This meticulous operation is carried out one step at a time, employing a cylindrical saw.

Alternatively, manufacturers can employ a multiwire saw, which enables the simultaneous cutting of multiple discs.

Note that the thin silicon material has a shinny quality that causes it to reflect light. Generally, to lower the reduction of sun rays, a slender film of anti glare coating is by great care applied onto the discs.

Typically, this coating is made up of titanium dioxide and silicon oxide, although alternative materials may also be used.

Applying the coating mentioned above involves heating it until the molecules reach a boiling point or making it to a spattering process. In the case of spattering, manufacturers employ high voltage techniques to remove the molecules of the coating material, subsequently depositing them onto the silicon substrate.

Furthermore, the wafers can undergo additional polishing procedures to remove residual saw marks. However, certain manufacturers are opting to forgo these polishing steps, as the presence of saw marks can enhance overall efficiency.

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Manufacturing Solar Cell

While silicon serves as the active substance within a solar cell, creating a contemporary solar cell involves many components. Typically, the silicon is meticulously sliced into thin sheets, similar to the width of a standard piece of paper.

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Subsequently, a specialized coating is with great care applied to the silicon sheets. This increases their capacity to absorb sun rays while lowering any reflective properties. Metal conductors are introduced to enable the smooth movement of electrons, which are visible as minute visible gridlines.

Specifically, the conjunction of these oppositely charged wafers makes a conduction junction that clearly shows the flow of electricity.

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Making Solar Panels from Solar Cells

Upon the completion of solar cell production, manufacturers ensures connections between them using metal connectors. Solar panels are formed by bringing together these solar cells into a matrix-like structure.

After the solar cells are all connected together, a thin glass casing is placed on the side facing the sun to enhance sun rays absorption. A highly durable polymer based material also creates the back sheet. This acts as a protective barrier against external elements such as water and soil, safeguarding the solar cells.

You can use a junction box when connecting the modules.

Subsequently, the manufacturer adds a frame, further fortifying the defense of the cells. The different parts are securely bound using ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), a resilient polymer adhesive. There are different solar panels for different functions, for example;

  • 48-cell panels: Optimal for small home roofs.
  • 60-cell panels: The conventional size is widely used.
  • 72-cell panels: Suitable for large scale installations.

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Testing and Certification

In different regions such as Europe, the USA, Australia, and other countries, distinct decision must be met for a solar panel to attain accreditation and be deemed suitable for utilization.

Each region imposes unique testing requirements, allowing Solar Panel Manufacturers to present the technical specifications of their products. This can be in the form of a comprehensive data sheet.

In Australia, the responsibility for testing and accrediting new solar panels lies with the Clean Energy Council. Furthermore, DNV GL is a prominent independent entity engaged in rigorous testing procedures for solar panels.

Annually, they release a list of top performing solar manufacturers, aiding consumers in identifying high-quality products.

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Can You Make Your Own Solar Panel?

It is strongly advised to avoid trying to create homemade solar panels. Despite the apparent simplicity of assembling panels using the correct materials. The potential risks and drawbacks associated with errors in constructing DIY panels, such as fire hazards, far outweigh any benefits they may offer.

To be safe, relying on professionally manufactured solar technology that adheres to rigorous standards and goes through thorough durability testing is highly advised.

Partnering with an expert solar installer is important to ensure the usage of top notch materials in constructing your solar panels, assuring their efficiency throughout their 25-year warranty period or even beyond.

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As we see a growing trend toward solar panel manufacturing to produce solar energy, it is certainly important to keep in mind the production process of solar panels.

We can understand the importance of effective production techniques in getting the sun’s electricity by digging into the complexities of solar cell production, including silicon and various panels.

In conclusion, using solar energy helps a great deal to putting in place a sustainable future and enables individuals to enhance the environment. Staying current on solar manufacturing and its role in creating a cleaner, greener world as technology develops is critical.

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