Thin Film Cells

a man installing thin film solar cells on a rooftop
Thin film cells are often installed on rooftops because they cannot be blown off. (img source)

Thin film cells are made by placing thin, tiny layers of a photovoltaic material (usually silicon) onto a wafer that is then assembled into the solar cells. These cells are much cheaper than rigid solar cells because of how they’re made: no silicon boules or molds are cut up and there’s no wasted material from it.

Thin film cells are less effective than rigid cells and must take up more space to reach similar efficiency ratings. However, they’re lightweight and flexible – they can be mounted on non-flat surfaces and aren’t easily blown off by wind or other elements. Unfortunately, they will eventually wear down and overheat faster than rigid cells. Even so, the pros and advances of thin film cells can often outweigh the negatives.