What Is A Solar Module? What Are Its Types And Cost?
With modern technology, the use of solar energy has increased. A solar module is a collection of solar cells that work primarily to absorb the sunlight and convert it into usable electricity.
A module in a solar panel refers to the arrangement of solar cells in parallel. The greater the wattage production, the higher the energy generation per solar module.
Let’s help you find out every detail about solar modules in this guide. Dive in!
Types of Solar Modules
Location is a prime factor when deciding the type of solar panel you want to install. Differentiating the solar panels means distinguishing them based on single-junction panels and multi-junction panels.
There are other variations like first, second, or third generations. As a novice, it can be difficult to comprehend the differences between different technologies used in creating different modules. So, here’s a brief overview of the types of solar modules:
First Generation Solar Panels
The first generation is the most common and widely used generation of solar panels. It includes monocrystalline silicon and polycrystalline modules.
Mono-Crystalline Solar Modules
These solar modules are made of silicon and when combined, they are also known as single-crystal panels. They are easily identified by their homogeneous black appearance and curved edges.
The monocrystalline solar modules are considered pure because of their efficiency. The monocrystalline panels have a bigger surface area that allows the panels to capture more solar energy.
The solar panels have a coating of silicon nitride, which increases their shelf life to 25-30 years.
- – The Czochralski process is used in making the monocrystalline solar modules where a small polycrystal is immersed in a boiling cauldron of pure silicon.
- – This produces a small silicon crystal called the ingot.
- – The ingot is then subsequently cut into thin silicon chips to be used in solar modules.
There are many types of monocrystalline solar panels available on the market today. The Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact Cells (PERC) are flooding the markets as monocrystalline alternatives.
The PERC is a relatively recent solar module that adds a passive layer to the cell’s back surface. It improves efficiency in various ways discussed below:
- – It returns the sunlight into the cell, maximising the quantity of solar energy absorbed by the panel.
- – It restricts the movement of electrons in the system by reducing the natural inclination of electrons to reconnect.
- – It permits the reflection of longer wavelengths of light. Light wavelengths which are longer than 1,180 nm are difficult to be trapped by silicon chips. Therefore, they are made to flow through. It reduces the efficiency of the solar panels. The passivation layer at the PERC module targets this weakness and rectifies it.
- – The Passivated layer reflects the higher frequencies; thus, preventing them from heating the sheet.
The PERC panels are popular because they absorb more sunlight in a relatively smaller footprint. This quality makes them perfect for closed locations. Although they are expensive to invest in, they provide long-term efficiency.
Polycrystalline Solar Modules
Polycrystalline Solar Modules are used to make multi-crystalline panels. These are cheap alternatives for monocrystalline solar modules.
The Polycrystalline cells are made of more than one silicon layer. Melted silicon pieces are put into a square mould, making the polycrystalline cells much more inexpensive.
They have a lesser surface area than monocrystalline solar panels. Hence, they generate less power than monocrystalline solar panels. Yet, they’re currently the most popular type of solar module in the market.
Second Generation Solar Panels
The second-gen solar modules are different from traditional solar panels. They are commonly used in commercial and residential constructions.
Thin film solar cells are the best examples. Let’s find out the details.
Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)
Thin-film solar cells are manufactured by placing one cell over the other. The thin-film solar cells are inexpensive and highly efficient.
They are simple to manufacture, making them widely available. These panels are made of a variety of materials like Amorphous Silicon (a-Si), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS).
These cells are manufactured by companies that sandwich a layer of CdTe between two transparent conductive sheets to enhance the absorption of sunlight. A glass coating is also present on top for shielding.
The Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) places all the four parts of CIGS modules sandwiched between two layers (glass, plastic, aluminium, or steel). Electrodes are placed on the front and rear of the substance to collect electrical charges.
However, these panels have a shorter shelf life than their counterparts. Still, they’re lightweight and portable. Also, their recorded efficiency is 20 percent.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these solar cells are easy to handle and more adaptable than traditional solar technologies.
Solar Module Efficiency: An Overview
The solar modules are 15 to 20 percent efficient. However, some modules can have an efficiency level of 22 percent.
That being said, the bulk of accessible solar panels have an efficiency of less than 20%.
Solar Module Prices
The price of a solar module depends on the size, capacity, technology used, model, brand, etc.
Focusing on your needs, you can invest in solar modules with capacities ranging from 10 to 530 Watts. The price is expected to range from ₹21-₹30 per Watt.
If you invest in a 1kW solar module, it might cost around ₹95,000- ₹1,00,000.
- – A polycrystalline solar module with 335W is expected to cost around ₹20,000 to ₹25,000.
- – A monocrystalline solar module with 390W is expected to cost around ₹ 35,000 to ₹40,000.
Please note: You cannot put a number to the price of solar modules. The prices of solar panels as well as solar cells keep fluctuating every month. It’s only the seller that can give you the most accurate data regarding the solar module prices.
Which Solar Module Should You Use?
When the investment is hefty, everybody wants to know how to choose a solar system that would yield maximum benefits. We have some answers that you could use:
- – If you have limited space, you can choose monocrystalline modules to optimise the amount of space and utility savings.
- – If you have a large property, you can save money upfront by choosing polycrystalline solar panels, where a greater solar area can compensate for the lesser panel effectiveness.
- – Thin-film solar panels are better suited for commercial structures with narrow spaces and even residential buildings.
Most importantly, solar modules last up to 25 years and are a long-term investment. Therefore, whichever option you pick, ensure it fulfills all the requirements.
Q. How many solar panels are required to power a home?
Typically, 7-10 solar panels, approximately 330 watts each, are required to satisfy the monthly electrical power demands of an Indian household that needs around 2.3 KW of the solar system.
Q. What is the lifespan of solar panels?
Solar systems can last up to 25 years. Solar modules having a deterioration rate of 1 percent offer a 10 percent lower effectiveness after ten years. Therefore, a solar system can work at 75 percent efficiency even after 20 years.
Q. Which solar panel is considered the best?
Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency of 20 to 22 percent, making them the most suitable.