What Are Solar Panels Made Of?

What are solar panels made of, 6 primary components of solar panels
What Are Solar Panels Made Of

Solar panels are becoming a more and more popular option for homeowners looking to lower their energy bills and help the environment. But what are solar panels made of and how are they made?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at solar panel technology and what goes into making these devices. I recommend reading from the top down but if you want to skip sections, tap on any of the bullets below:

What are the raw materials needed to make solar panels?

Many of today’s solar panels are made of 6 primary components:

  1. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells
  2. Reinforced glass
  3. Aluminum or plastic frame
  4. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) film layers
  5. Polymer solar backsheet
  6. PV junction box with diodes, cables, and connectors

Let’s talk about each one.

1. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells 

Photovoltaic cells are made up of layers of semiconductor material, typically silicon.

When sunlight hits the silicon cells, it is absorbed by the semiconductor which triggers the movement of electrons. The rattling of these electrons is what generates DC electricity (i.e. the photovoltaic effect).

Solar panels are composed of multiple photovoltaic cells which are connected in series. The combined output of these solar cells is sent to an inverter that converts the DC electric current to the usable AC electricity you and I use at home.

Recommended: This is how solar panels work.

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2. Reinforced glass

It helps to protect delicate solar PV cells from the elements and provides a sturdy base for the panes. It also helps increase the efficiency of the solar panel by allowing light to pass through more easily, resulting in better energy generation.

Additionally, the reinforced glass can help reduce the risk of breakage and increase the panel’s longevity.

3. Aluminum or plastic frame

The type of frame used for solar panels can impact the system’s performance and durability.

Aluminum frames are generally stronger and more durable than plastic frames, making them a preferable choice for installations that may be exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Aluminum frames are also more thermally efficient and can help keep the solar cells cooler, improving their efficiencies.

4. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) film layers

The Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) film layer acts as a protective coating for the underlying solar cells, providing insulation.

It also helps to keep moisture out, ensuring that water or other environmental factors don’t damage the solar cells.

5. Polymer solar backsheet 

Typically made of fluoropolymers, such as ETFE, PTFE, or PVDF, they have excellent abrasion, weathering, and corrosion resistance. This makes them ideal for the harsh outdoor environment.

6. PV junction box with diodes, cables, and connectors

PV junction boxes with diodes, cables, and connectors provide a connection point between the solar cells in the panel and the rest of the electrical system.

Junction boxes use diode-based protection to prevent short circuits and overvoltage issues in your electrical system.

On the other hand, the cables and connectors provide a secure and reliable link between your junction box and the rest of your solar system. Thus, allowing the electrical current to flow safely.

How are solar panels made?

The most common modern solar panels are made by fitting a thin layer of silicone that’s sandwiched between two layers of glass within a metal frame. That’s the gist of it, at least.

most common modern solar panels are made by fitting a thin layer of silicone that’s sandwiched between two layers of glass within a metal frame

Here’s a more detailed version:

1. Create silicon from quartz sand

To make silicon from quartz sand, you’ll need to heat the sand to a temperature of around 2,000-2,500°C. The quartz sand is placed into an electric arc furnace and heated until it melts and forms a liquid. The liquid is then cooled and allowed to crystallize into silicon.

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2. Add a doping material

Doping materials such as boron and phosphorous are added to silicon to regulate its conductive properties. Together, they form a silicon ingot – the raw material needed to create solar cells.

You’ll need to carefully measure out the amount of doping material you add though.

You will also need to evenly distribute the doping material throughout the cell. This can be done through a process called ion implantation.

3. Convert ingots to solar cells

First, solar ingots must be cut and shaped into the desired size and shape of a solar cell.

Then, they must be treated with a chemical agent to remove impurities. An electrical contact must also be applied to the cell for the next step.

4. Attach solar cell busbars and fingers

Busbars are in charge of collecting the DC electricity that needs to be sent to your system’s inverter. Fingers, on the other hand, are responsible for delivering DC from your solar cells to their busbars.

Conductive adhesive or solder is used to connect the busbars to the solar cells. Once attached, you’ll need to connect them using a thin wire or tabbing. To complete the assembly, you will also need to attach the fingers to the busbars.

5. Assemble and finish with a junction box

Creating a junction box requires wires, silicone caulk, and other essential items. Connect the wires to the junction box and make sure all connections are securely in place.

Use the silicone caulk to seal the junction box. When the caulk has dried, your solar panel is ready to be mounted and connected to your power system.

What are the different types of solar panels?

Several types of solar panels are available for residential and commercial use. The most common types are mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline, and thin-film solar panels.

Several types of solar panels are available for residential and commercial use.


Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single crystal of silicon. These panels are highly efficient making them the most popular choice for residential and commercial solar power systems.

They are also the most expensive type of panel, but their superior efficiency makes them a worthwhile investment in the long run.


Polycrystalline solar panels are also one of the most popular types of solar panels used in residential and commercial photovoltaic systems today.

Unlike monocrystalline, polycrystalline solar panels are made of many silicon crystals cut from a single silicon ingot. This makes them easier to produce and, therefore, more affordable.

They’re slightly less efficient, though.

Thin-film panels

Thin-film panels aren’t made from the same materials as the previous two. Instead, they use copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), cadmium telluride (CdTe), or amorphous silicone (a-Si).

They are the more lightweight and less expensive option but are also the least efficient.


What are solar cells made of?

Solar cells are made of semiconductor materials, most commonly silicon. However, gallium arsenide and cadmium telluride are also other options. Metals such as copper, silver, and zinc also form part of the cell and are responsible for electrical conductivity.

Do solar panels contain toxic materials?

The materials used in the solar panel manufacturing process are considered safe and non-toxic under normal circumstances. However, if your solar panels are damaged, it is important to take caution when handling them.

Where are most solar panels made?

Most solar panels are manufactured in countries with strong solar energy markets, such as China, the United States, Japan, and India. China alone produces around 70% of the world’s solar panels. Many of these countries are investing heavily in renewable energy technologies, making them attractive locations for solar panel production.


To create solar panels you will need a variety of materials, including glass, metal, and plastic. By understanding what these different components are and what they do, you can better understand how solar panels work and what benefits they provide.

That being said, it is still highly recommended that you buy your panels rather than making them on your own.

For one, it’s safer. Second, it could be far more cost-efficient because of the Australian government’s many green energy incentives. Finally, you can only be eligible for said incentives if your system was installed by a CEC-accredited installer.

So, should you need a quote, we have a network of pre-vetted installers on the ready. We can get you 3 FREE quotes right away.