Installing Solar Panels

by April Reinhardt
(last updated February 20, 2015)

A collection of individual silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight, solar panels are comprised of those individual cells housed within a frame. The cells are wired together and connected electrically, framed by metal, and backed with either plastic, metal, or fiberglass. The entire unit—or panel—is covered by glass to protect it from the elements. Solar panels are pre-manufactured in many sizes, and can be mounted on a rooftop, on the side of a structure, or as a stand-alone unit.

There are basically three types of solar panels:

  • Monocrystalline solar panels are manufactured using monocrystals, also called single crystals. Monocrystalline solar cells combine unpolluted silicon and monocrystals to form their solar cells. Thus, this type of solar panel is the most efficient, yet also the most expensive, of the three types of panels. The individual cells are processed from thin wafers of monocrystals, and then wired together into a solar panel.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels, sometimes called multi-crystalline, also use crystals in their construction, but the crystals are slightly less efficient than monocrystals because they aren't as pure. Polycrystals are grown in a large block of many crystals, giving them a shattered glass appearance, and are less expensive than monocrystals.
  • Amorphous solar panels do not use crystals in their construction. Instead, a thin layer of silicon is distributed on metal or glass to create a solar panel. And although they are much less expensive than crystal solar panels, their energy efficiency is also mush less, requiring additional square footage to produce the same amount of power as crystal solar panels.

There are also three types of panel arrays to choose from; fixed, adjustable, or tracking. Tracking panels follow the sun's path continuously. Fixed panels are completely stationary, while adjustable panels are able to be adjusted a few times each year.

Typically, a 100-watt solar panel costs about five hundred dollars. You can run a microwave, refrigerator, computer, several lights, a color television, and an air conditioner using about five 100-watt solar panels. Some utility companies help defray the cost of installing solar panels and some people even "go off the grid" using solar energy—meaning, they use the public electric company only in times of emergency.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

MORE FROM APRIL

Getting Help with Moving

When the move is over, make sure that you thank each person individually as they leave. Plan to take them all out that ...

Discover More

Replacing Windows

Whether you're replacing a small windowpane, or a sliding glass door pane, the premise for replacing a window is the same. ...

Discover More

Natural Rugs

Although consumers today view the use of a natural rug as a trendy, conscious effort to be eco-friendly, ancient ...

Discover More

Find the Right Tool Right Away Finally, a homeowner's set that includes all the tools needed to complete basic DIY projects at an affordable price! The tools are stored in a molded case for security and portability. Check out Stanley 65-Piece Homeowner's Tool Kit today!

More Home Improvement Tips

Using Electrical Testers

Electrical testers are a great tool to have when you do any type of electrical work. Unfortunately, if you don't know how to ...

Discover More

Replacing a Circuit Breaker

If you have ever been nervous to replace a bad circuit breaker, have no fear. This is one of the easier electrical jobs that ...

Discover More

Choosing Bathroom Light Fixtures

For some reason, the bathroom tends to be one of the most overlooked rooms in the home when it comes to interior decorating. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured home improvement tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven minus 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured home improvement tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)