Thin film solar is made by coating a sheet of glass or steel with a very thin layer of a light-absorbing substrate. The most common materials used are amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium, and diselenide. Although sometimes referred to as panels or cells, thin film technology is not made from crystalline wafers and is thus neither.
Thin film solar has an electricity return rate of about 9-13%, which means it requires more roof space to generate the same amount of electricity when compared to crystalline modules. But thin film, as the name implies, is the thinnest and more flexible solar technology on the market today. These characteristics allow thin film solar to be used on a wider variety of surfaces, such as roof tiles, and other surfaces that need not be flat.
Cost and Durability
Because much less of the light-absorbent material is required, thin film solar is much cheaper than crystalline silicon panels. And while less efficient than a crystalline panel, thin film solar technology is significantly less expensive. As the technology is relatively new, there is no consensus on the average lifespan of thin film panels. Currently, manufacturer’s warranties range from 3 to 20 years.
Learn more about the advantages of solar energy.