All You Need To Know About Flexible Solar Panels
Solar panel technology is experiencing various advancements, and several companies are introducing improvements to some of the present structures in the solar market. One of the recent innovations is relating to the flexibility of solar panels. Solar panels are made up of silicon wafers, whether they are monocrystalline or polycrystalline. These wafers are only slightly thicker than a human hair.
However, recent technology is incorporating new approaches to making thinner wafers, hence producing flexible solar panels. Some of these technologies have experienced some breakthroughs. For instance, the introduction of thin-film panels into the solar market. These films are made to be thinner than the silicon wafers, hence making them more lightweight and durable than their older counterparts.
Apart from this, there is also the innovative technology recently introduced into the market by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This technology seeks to introduce organic solar cells as a replacement for the ultra-thin silicon cells. These organic materials, coupled with graphene electrodes, are thinner, more flexible, and have higher stability than the silicon wafers. However, the most popular of the flexible solar panels as of now is the thin-film panels.
Pros And Cons Of Thin-film Panel Usage
The main advantage of a thin-film panel is its weight. Due to its lightweight, it becomes easier to install them anywhere. The thin-film panel will favor those who have smaller roofs or weaker buildings with some structural defects. These buildings might not hold the traditional rooftop solar panels, but they sure will be strong enough to accommodate the thin-film solar panels. Another good location where a thin-film solar panel might be a great choice is at carports.
Another reason you might want to choose a thin-film panel instead of the traditional solar panel is the cost implication. Thin-film panels are generally cheaper, and the cost of installation is also smaller than the conventional panels. The reduction in installation is attributable to the ease of handling as you do not have to do any heavy roof-mounting job before installing a thin-film solar panel.
The main downside to thin-film solar panel usage is its low efficiency. The range of efficiency of a traditional solar panel varies between 16%-20%. However, this is not the case with thin-film panels as they have a much lower efficiency of 7% and 13%. The implication of this is that more panels will be needed to get the same efficiency from a thin-film solar panel when compared with the classic panel.
This will be a bad call for individuals or companies who have limited space for solar panel installation. However, if the energy needed is not so much, then the individual or company can consider opting for the thin film panel, as they are a much cheaper alternative.
Smaller solar projects will enjoy the use of thin-film panels, such as boats and recreational vehicles. This is because of the durability and lightweight of thin-film panels. Hence, it is best to consider this option over the classic panels for smaller projects.