Silicon Solar Cell: Types, Uses, Advantages & Disadvantages

A silicon solar cell is a photovoltaic cell made of silicon semiconductor material. It is the most common type of solar cell available in the market. 

The silicon solar cells are combined and confined in a solar panel to absorb energy from the sunlight and convert it into electrical energy. 

These cells are easily available in the market and are widely used due to their cost-effective pricing. They have a lifespan of over 25 years and can function without requiring high maintenance. Due to these benefits, they play a crucial role in the solar panel market. 

Let’s find out more about these solar cells in the sections listed below.

How Does A Silicon Solar Cell Function? 

A silicon solar cell works the same way as other types of solar cells. When the sun rays fall on the silicon solar cells within the solar panels, they take the photons from the sunlight during the daylight hours and convert them into free electrons. 

The electrons pass through the electric wires and supply electric energy to the power grid. The direct current from the sunlight is transformed into alternating current within a solar inverter. It is then made to pass through the cables to charge different devices and appliances.  

Types Of Silicon Solar Cells 

Silicon solar cells have three broad classifications based on the photovoltaic cell category present in each:

  1. Monocrystalline silicon solar cells
  2. Polycrystalline silicon solar cells
  3. Amorphous silicon solar cells 

Let’s explore these solar cells in detail now!

Monocrystalline silicon solar cell

This solar cell is also recognised as a single crystalline silicon cell. It is made of pure silicon and comes in a dark black shade. 

Besides, it is also space-efficient and works longer than all other silicon cells. However, it is the most expensive silicon cell variant.  

Polycrystalline silicon solar cell

As the name suggests, this silicon solar cell is made of multiple crystalline cells. It is less efficient than the Monocrystalline cell and requires more space to accommodate. However, it is a bit cheaper and comes at affordable prices. 

Amorphous silicon solar cell

This solar cell is one of the most significant thin-film variants. It can be utilised for various applications and has a high absorption capacity. 

It has a maximum efficiency of 13%, less than the other two types. However, amorphous silicon cell is the cheapest. It’s ideal for charging small electronic devices like calculators and watches. 

Additionally, it has a simple design and can be deposited on many structures like glass and plastics. 

Uses Of Silicon Solar Cells

Due to their economical price and efficiency, there are several uses of silicon solar cells. The most notable silicon solar cell uses are as follows:

  • – The silicon solar cell is employed in the automotive industry. It aids in the charging and operation of battery-powered motors.
  • – It is beneficial in charging calculators. Besides, it charges household appliances like washing machines, lamps, fans, air conditioners, heaters, and coolers. It helps lower the electricity bill.
  • – A silicon solar cell is used to produce electricity in power farms.
  • – It is used in chemical reactions and the processing of minerals.
  • – Business-related industries also employ these silicon solar cells.

Cost Of A Silicon Solar Cell 

Due to the usage of pricey and high-quality silicon in manufacturing, silicon solar panels used to be extremely expensive. Additionally, the cost of purifying silicon cells was also high. 

But as technology advanced, low-cost silicon materials made it possible to produce affordable silicon cells. Government subsidies have also contributed to decreasing the overall cost.  

Customers must contact the manufacturers to find the exact price before making a purchase. The cost of a silicon solar cell can alter based on the number of cells used and the brand. 

Advantages Of Silicon Solar Cells 

Silicon solar cells have gained immense popularity over time, and the reasons are many. 

Like all solar cells, a silicon solar cell also has many benefits:

  • – It has an energy efficiency of more than 20%. 
  • – It is a non-toxic material. Therefore, it is not harmful to the environment. 
  • – The silicon solar cell can be placed in solar panels and used for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. 
  • – It is a cost-effective option. 
  • – It offers good photoconductivity. 
  • – It is lightweight.
  • – A silicon solar cell is resistant to corrosion and does not rust easily. 
  • – It can handle intense sunlight and high temperatures. 
  • – It does not require high maintenance. 
  • – It can be used for diverse applications.

Disadvantages Of Silicon Solar Cells 

Although there is no shortage of advantages of using silicon solar cells, they also have some drawbacks too. 

The following are the disadvantages of using silicon solar cells:

  • – They are heavily reliant on the weather.
  • – An enormous room is needed to store and accommodate them.
  • – Their installation cost is higher than those of electrical systems.
  • – They demonstrate intermittent problems.
  • – Users need to purchase batteries and inverters separately to convert solar energy into electric energy and save the excess for later use.

Conclusion 

With so many advantages, silicon solar cells are undoubtedly the future of the solar panel market. 

These cells are plentiful; thus, they won’t become obsolete over the next few years. Despite being less expensive than other cells, they are still more expensive than electrical systems. This added cost is the biggest challenge in the solar industry. 

The manufacturers are continuously looking for a solution to this problem. Silicon solar cells will likely rule the market if they can be made more affordable than they are now.

FAQs 

Q1. Is silicon good for solar cells?

Yes, silicon is quite good for solar cells. Amongst all the other materials, silicon solar cells have superior optical, electronic, thermal, mechanical, and environmental properties. 

Q2. Are silicon solar cells thick?

Yes, silicon solar cells have a thickness of 100-500 ┬Ám. They are made thick so that they are able to handle thin wafers. 

Q3. Which type of silicon is used only in solar cell applications?

Amorphous silicon solar cells are used in solar cell applications as it provides an affordable production process and requires minimal power.