Thinking About Thin-Film Solar

| 11/17/2009 2:13:00 PM

Tags: solar, solar power, PV, thin film, electricity, renewable energy,

We’re working on an article about thin-film photovoltaics (PV) for our February/March 2010 issue, and in the process I’m learning more about this very cool technology.

What is Thin-Film PV? Thin-film is a lightweight and flexible type of PV. Because it's so light and flexible, thin-film PV is also versatile: For example, you can mount it on the side of a tent or backpack, or integrate it directly into the roof of your home. It’s an alternative to crystalline silicon, which is still the most common type of PV. Some thin-film panels are manufactured with amorphous silicon, while others are made with cadmium telluride, or other non-silicon materials.


August September 2008 Cover 
October November 2006 Cover 

A Little Time Travel. We’ve written about thin-film PV several times in the last few years. In fact, we’ve even put thin-film PV on the cover twice (see left). So, just for fun, here’s a quick trip back into the Mother Earth News archive for more information on this technology.

2008. For an idea of what a house with thin-film PV looks like, check out the cover photo from our August/September 2008 issue. It's not easy to see the thin-film solar panels, and that's kind of the point. If you’re not crazy about the way solar panels look, one of the benefits of thin-film PV is that it can be very unobtrusive.

2006. Here’s a thin-film installation where it's easier to see the PV panels. This cover photo from our October/November 2006 issue shows the thin-film PV laminates that our editor in chief, Cheryl Long, installed on her barn roof.  You can read all about her PV system in the article Easy Solar Power.

David Haggard_4
1/2/2010 5:30:33 PM

Please include information on where the do-it-yourself homeowner can buy thin-film "peel & stick" PV. I have been searching, and all I can find is suppliers that sell it already built in to their roof panels, or they will come and do it for you. None seem interested in selling to me to do it myself. If it truly is peel & stick, why can I not find a supplier so I can stick it on my existing steel roof? I have a brand new garage with 1200 square feet of south-facing steel roof, just begging for thin-film PV!

12/2/2009 7:20:18 PM

Bruce, Go ahead and post your questions, we can all benefit from the dialog.

Bruce R_1
11/30/2009 1:34:20 PM

Uncle Red... is there some way to contact you directly? Don't want to bother all the good people here with my questions. Thanks!

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