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What Are Solar Panels Made of, and How Are They Made?

August 24, 2022

It’s no secret that solar energy is more popular than ever before, and with popularity comes a lot of questions! While many people want to know details about the sustainability and efficiency of solar panels, others are curious about the technology behind them. Read on to learn what solar panels are made of and how they’re made.

The Materials

The main component of a photovoltaic solar panel is silicon wafers. Over 90 percent of all solar panels utilize silicon, so it’s a safe bet that you see silicon at work whenever you spot a solar panel in the wild. Silicon is a core ingredient in creating semiconductors, but panels aren’t complete without the other bits and pieces. They are also composed of metal, glass, plastic, and wiring.

Although they all use silicon, there are three different types of solar panels:


As the name suggests, a monocrystalline panel is made with a single crystal. These panels blend high efficiency with a high price tag.


Polycrystalline panels are exactly what you think—multiple silicon crystals. This is a more budget-friendly option and probably the panels you’ll install on your roof if you’re looking for solar panels in New Mexico.


Finally, thin-film panels use amorphous silicon to produce flexible panels with lower efficiency.

Silicon Properties

There are a few reasons solar panel manufacturers use silicon as the semiconductor material in almost all commercially available solar panels. First, it’s affordable and widely available. Because solar panels are so popular, these factors are essential considerations.

In addition, silicon is also optimal for the conversion process from sunlight to electricity.

Finally, silicon has a long lifespan, so solar panel installers can offer extended warranties.

The Process

It begins with the melting of silicon, after which the silicon is mixed with multiple supportive elements. Next, manufacturers make sheets of silicon which they cut to make component cells. Plastic or glass is then used to protect the cells. After that comes the simple process of installation!

Now that you know what solar panels are made of and how they’re made, we hope you have a greater appreciation for the incredible scientific minds it takes to make sustainability possible.

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