Thin Film Solar Panels

Opt for durable thin film solar panels for an affordable solar panel system

With a large enough roof, thin film solar panels can be used on more homes thanks to their durable, lightweight design

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Thin FIlm Solar Panels

Why Thin Film Solar Panels Are A Popular Option

Climate change is negatively affecting the environment by bringing on more extreme weather. The result of this is a changed energy landscape, and more and more people are searching for a green energy solution that’s affordable.

Enter: Thin film solar panels.

As implementing green renewable energy in our lives becomes more essential, here at ESE Solar we know the importance of offering a cost-efficient solar panel system so we can ALL make a difference today.

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What Are Thin Film Solar Panels?

Thin film solar panels are film-thin panels that convert solar energy to electric energy. They’re similar to regular PV panels in that they’re also photovoltaic material converting sunlight to electricity.

These thin solar panels are second-generation thin-film solar cells. In addition, these solar panels are ultra-thin, and each layer is only a micron thick. Multiple layers of this photovoltaic material make up the thin solar panels.

With the ultra-thinness of the panel layers, the solar panels are lighter and more flexible than regular PV solar panels. Vehicles like RVs and boats usually use these thin panels because the panels are light enough and won’t hinder their movement, but increasingly, thin film solar panels are being seen as a viable and affordable option for your home energy needs.

However, the efficiency and effectiveness of thin solar panels vary depending on their use, manufacturing materials, and technology.

Different Types Of Thin Film Solar Panels

Types of thin film solar panels vary in their materials and cost.

More significantly, panels differ in their effectiveness in converting solar energy to electric energy, as well as mass production, availability, and carbon footprint.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels (a-Si)

Amorphous silicon solar panels (a-Si) are more environmentally friendly than other thin film solar panel options because they don’t contain toxic materials like cadmium.

Additionally, they use fewer materials than traditional PV panels.

They’re the oldest thin film solar technology, which has given amorphous silicon panels more time to develop and move further than other thin solar panels.

On the other hand, amorphous silicon solar panels have low efficiency in converting solar energy – around 7%. For this reason, amorphous silicon systems will require an expansive roof space in order to install enough panels to be considered a viable option.

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin solar panels are the most used thin film solar panels because of their acceptable levels of efficiency in converting solar energy for low manufacturing costs.

Their levels of efficiency can range from 10% to 15%, and they will reach 19% in ideal circumstances. For all these reasons, cadmium telluride (CdTe) is the most common thin film solar cell used.

However, they also have some significant drawbacks. As its name suggests, cadmium telluride (CdTe) contains large amounts of cadmium, which is a highly toxic material.

Even though cadmium telluride solar panels don’t remotely affect people by the material’s toxicity during manufacturing and installation, the disposal of these amounts of cadmium can be detrimental to the environment. With proper installation and removal, this becomes less of a concern. Always choose a reputable business like ESE Solar to carry out work of this kind.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar panels are the most effective thin film solar cells.

They’re 15% efficient in converting solar energy, and optimally they convert up to 20% of the light to electricity, which makes them comparable to crystalline silicon PV cells.

In addition, they’re the most productive in low light as they work as efficiently both early in the morning and later in the evening.

They also have low manufacturing costs. However, they remain slightly less effective than regular PV cells.

Copper indium gallium selenide panels are a little more expensive to mass produce than regular solar panels or even cadmium telluride film thin panels due to their components. They also contain small amounts of cadmium which aren’t as large as the amounts found in cadmium telluride.

Organic PV Film Thin Cells

Organic PV film thin cells can’t compete with other variations of thin film solar panels.

They’re the least efficient in converting solar energy to electric energy and have the shortest life span of all four types.

However, they’re cheaper and made of organic materials which can make them a more desirable option.

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Summary Of Thin Film Solar Panel Differences

Here’s a short table to sum up all the differences between these thin solar panels.

Types of Thin Solar Panels

Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels (a-Si)

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)

Organic PV 

Efficiency

Low solar converting efficiency up to 7%.

Solar converting efficiency ranges from 10% to 15%, 19% in ideal circumstances.

15% solar converting efficiency.

Lowest conversion efficiency.

Toxicity

Environment friendly

Highly toxic

Low toxicity

Organic material

Use

Usable in homes with large roof spaces

Most commonly used in thin film solar panels

Most efficient in low light

Shortest life span

Production

 

Low mass production

Low manufacturing cost and low mass production

Cheapest manufacturing costs

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Thin Film Solar Panels

Advantages

  • Thin film solar cells are flexible and easy to handle due to their thinness. 
  • They’re less likely to crack or get damaged.
  • Thin film panels are cheaper to manufacture, transport and install. 
  • Lower carbon footprint because of the materials used in production.

Disadvantages

  • All thin film panels are less effective in converting solar energy than other options available.
  • Some require expansive roof spaces to work. ESE Solar can advise about the options available to you. 
  • Some contain toxic materials.

ESE Solar's Green Solutions

Green renewable energy is the future, and saving energy is the only way forward in the face of rapid climate change.

We offer smart solutions for installing solar panels and even storing your solar energy while you’re away. Whether at work or on your summer holiday, none of your energy will go to waste.

We offer a full assessment of your green energy needs, and this in-depth assessment will decide whether thin film or regular solar panels are a better fit for your home. Simply fill in this form to have your solar needs assessed within 48 hours. Then, the assessment will be used to design a system best suited to your needs.

Get The Best Solar Deals With ESE

Enquire with us today and get your solar installed within 4 weeks!

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Thin Film Solar Panel Summary

Thin film solar panels are the best to use under certain circumstances. We advise against using thin solar panels if your home has limited roof space.

However, thin solar panels can be optimal and cheaper to buy and install than regular PV panels if you’ve got the space needed for them to be efficient for your home.

Upon assessment and survey of your property, we’ll advise you of the various options of panels and systems to choose from so you’re always presented with the best options for you and your energy needs.

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FAQ's

Some of the most common questions about thin film solar panels are answered for you here…

The thin film makes solar panels more durable than regular PV panels and less likely to get cracked or damaged due to environmental causes.
Thin film solar panels are used for homes, businesses, and farms, but currently, they’re mostly used in vehicles. They’re highly efficient for boats, RVs, and even buses, but as the technology continues to advance they become even more suitable for home use.

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