Should I get the thin film? Silicon? What’s the difference?

solar panel and renewable energy
solar panel and renewable energy

If you’re new to off grid power, you’re probably wondering what kinds of Solar panels for your home there are and what their pros and cons are. Like you, many homes and business owners who want to install Fort Worth Commercial solar panels encounter some unfamiliar terms that they don’t have much idea about. For instance, while chatting with your installer about Renewable resources in Dallas Fort Worth, you might be questioned whether you’d like to install thin film panels or silicon panels for your home. If you don’t know the answer to this question, you have reached the right place. In this article, we are going to inform you about the meaning of these terms and what difference they make.

Let’s Start With the Basics:

Thin film Commercial solar panels and Silicon Solar panels are essentially the two common varieties of photovoltaic solar panels. Photovoltaic solar panels are the key components of a Fort Worth off grid power system. These panels produce electricity when sunlight hits them. The current generated by these panels are then put to consumer use through the battery and an inverter. Therefore, the next time you hear these terms, remember that the speaker is talking about the panels of  an off grid power system.

Silicon Solar panels for Home:

These solar panels use silicon as a material, just like computer chips. The price of silicon is subject to rise and fall. Therefore, these solar panels are made from a derivative of sand and can be cheap or expensive depending on the price. Silicon solar panels are the most common kind of solar panels. These are also quite efficient. That means their rate of conversion of sunlight into electricity is more than that of the thin film solar panels. Silicon solar panels are expensive per board. However, they are not necessarily high-cost on a per watt electricity basis. Silicon Solar panels for Dallas Texas are inflexible and are found in board form only.

Thin Film Solar panels for Home:

Thin Film solar panels are produced from a variety of substances, like Cadmium, a toxic chemical. This negative of the material has been offset by the chance to recycle the panels freely after they outlive their usefulness. Compared to silicon, cadmium is cheap. However, it is not that efficient at converting sunlight into energy like silicon panels. Therefore, the thin film isn’t suitable for houses that have little sunlight or roof area. To their credit, the thin film solar panel is quite flexible. They can come as regular roof shingle shapes, peel-and-stick roof format or even be applied to windows and walls as a spray. Thin film solar panels, otherwise known as Building integrated Photovoltaic products, are popular among people who don’t like the bulky silicon panels.


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A Designer and a Chemist create wearable solar tech


“The way that today’s wearable electronics are created is a simple process of packaging,” says Andrew. “A Fitbit or an Apple watch—they all have a PCB [printed circuit board], which holds the little electronic circuit. It allows you to ‘wear’ that device, but to me that’s not real wearable electronics. That’s only something that is patched onto another material.”

Their shared passion for solar innovation now has them working towards finalizing the design of a solar textile. While Fairbanks’s plans are to ultimately cultivate a finished fabric, Andrew hopes to take that fabric and actually manufacture marketable products. Andrew envisions fabric panels for heated car seats or even small solar panels sewn into a larger garment.

Historically, solar panels have been made out of glass or plastic—materials that are hard and can be destroyed fairly easily. Researchers first turned to textiles in 2001 in an effort to create a solar component that is pliable, breathable and flexible. Since then, solar fabrics have been incorporated into stadium covers, carports and even wearable art, but Andrew and Fairbanks claim that their fabric is superior to other groups’ in breathability, strength and density. Not only have they figured out how to utilize their process on any type of fabric, but because this is a collaboration between scientist and designer, they also have the ability to broaden the scope of solar textiles within a more commercial, consumer-friendly market.

“The biggest problem is that textiles, from an engineering and chemistry concern, are that they’re incredibly rough,” says Andrew. “They’re a three dimensional substrate; they’re not flat.”

Their solar cell consists of one layer of fabric that has four coats of different polymers. The first coat is Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), or “PEDOT”, which Andrew and her post-doc research assistant, Lushuai Zhang, discovered worked incredibly well to increase a fabric’s conductivity. The other three coats are various semiconducting dyes, such as blue dye copper phthalocyanine, that act as the photoactive layers or light absorbers for the cell. Andrew and Fairbanks have achieved repeated success with the first two coats but are still working out the kinks for coats three and four.

Fabrics, as opposed to smooth and shiny glass or plastic, are porous, which makes evenly coating them with specific polymers a bit tricky. If you consider how a piece of fabric is created, it’s made up of multiple fibers twisted together. Each fiber will have a different level of roughness, which, from a chemistry standpoint, includes multiple light scales (nanometer, micrometer, etc.).

“In order to actually put the electronically conductive polymer over that surface, you have to traverse all of these different light scales,” says Andrew. “And that’s hard.”  – read the full story here



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Thanks to competition and innovation, Solar costs are at an all time low?

technician install new generation photovoltaic solar panels on roof
technician install new generation photovoltaic solar panels on roof

A variety of factors including declining component costs, increased competition, lower overheads and better system configurations is driving solar PV systems costs ever lower, particularly for utility-scale projects, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL).
NREL’s U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark Q1 2016 shows costs for a typical 5.6 kW-DC residential PV system at $2.93 per watt, and $2.13 per watt for a 200 kW commercial system. For utility-scale PV, the authors gave a figure of $1.42 per watt for a 100 MW fixed-tilt system, and $1.49 per watt for a 100 MW system with single-axis tracking.
This represents 6% and 4% annual cost reductions for residential and C&I PV systems, but a stunning 20% reduction in costs for fixed-tilt utility-scale systems. NREL notes that while falling component costs are a factor, “increased competition, lower installer and developer overheads, improved labor productivity, and optimized system configurations also contributed, particularly for EPC firms building commercial and utility-scale projects” – read the full story at PV magazine

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