Why Are All Solar Panels the Same Shape?

November 27, 2016

When you think about solar panels – whether they’re mounted to cars, buildings or other structures – you probably think about flat, rectangular or square-shaped devices that lay flush along a surface. Generally speaking, solar panels used for offsetting the cost of consuming electrical power are shaped the way they are due mostly to optimizing the efficiency of the panel. A solar panel must meet a few key conditions in order for it to be as economical and as efficient as possible:

  1. The panel must expose as much surface area to the sun as possible. This also means having a surface that doesn’t cast a shadow on itself.
  2. The panel must be able to be manufactured on a mass scale. If solar panels were shaped in specific ways, they couldn’t be installed on universally flat surfaces like roofs and awnings.
  3. PV cells must maintain connectivity with the rest of the electrical system. This includes connectivity to inverters and control cabinets.

To meet these design criteria, a flat panel works best. Thickness, length, width and weight of solar panels are all variable factors that will depend on the manufacturer, the location of the structure onto which the panels will be installed, and the preferences of the customer. Having a large, exposed surface area with plenty of room for PV cell internals along with sufficient rigidity, all contribute to what makes a solar panel the best it can be.

Regarding solar panel design, what could the future hold? Right now, companies are experimenting with making solar panels that are flexible, ultra-thin and even transparent. There are also projects involving integration of solar panels into roadways and building materials that could eventually be part of ‘green’ structures that don’t have any grid connectivity at all.

Urban Solar is always on the cutting edge of solar panel technology, and we only use the best panels from the most reputable manufacturers. If you’d like to get started on a free energy assessment for your home or business, contact us today. Our technicians and estimators are ready to work with you every step of the way.