4 Great Alternatives to Silicon PV Cells in Solar Panels

What reasons are there as to why silicon photovoltaic cells are the best for solar panels?

Silicon photovoltaic cells are the most common type of solar panels available today. They are more efficient in converting light into energy and are cheaper to produce than other types of cells. Silicon panels also last longer, which means less cost on maintenance and replacements.

However, silicon is an expensive and bulky solar PV cell. Thankfully, silicon will have competing materials for solar energy collection. In the future, these four will dominate the industry.

Dye-Sensitized Solar Panels

Dye-sensitized solar panels are a type of solar panel that has the ability to produce a high voltage but relatively small amount of power. They are made up of an electrolyte and an electrode, which is usually covered with dye molecules. When in the sun, these molecules absorb the light and transfer it to electrons, which then generate electricity.


Perovskite solar PV cells are a relatively new type of solar cell which uses the mineral perovskite as the semiconductor in their structure. They are inexpensive, lightweight and flexible, making them a promising candidate to replace current silicon-based solar panels.

Quantum Dot

Quantum dots are nanocrystals that can convert solar energy into electricity and are used to manufacture solar cells. They are so small that they can capture the energy of a single photon, which means that they can absorb much more energy than traditional silicon solar panels.

This PV cell’s efficiency depends on the size of the quantum dots. Smaller quantum dots are less efficient and are cheaper to produce, while larger quantum dots are more efficient and take longer to produce.

Organic Photovoltaics

Organic photovoltaics are thin film solar cells that use organic semiconducting materials instead of silicon. Compared to silicon PV cells, organic PV cells are less efficient and can be manufactured using less energy. However, organic PV cells are more flexible, lighter and cheaper to produce than silicon PV cells.

Another great alternative to silicon PVs are asphalt shingle solar panels. First introduced by GAF in 2022, the Timberline Solar line of solar shingles are the first in the world and won multiple awards because of innovation. Learn more about it below from PR Newswire.

GAF Energy, a Standard Industries company and the leading provider of solar roofing in North America, today announced the launch of its innovative Timberline Solar™ roof to Denver-area residents. Timberline Solar™ is the only system to directly integrate solar technology into traditional roofing processes and materials. This new system incorporates the world's first nailable solar shingle, the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle ES™, which is assembled domestically at GAF Energy's U.S. manufacturing and R&D facility.

"We're thrilled to launch our Timberline Solar™ roof in Denver. Now Denver-area residents have access to the award-winning solar roof – and have a roof that pays for itself over time," said Keally DeWitt, Vice President of Communications for GAF Energy. "Solar roofs are the future of clean energy, and Timberline Solar™ is in a class of its own: reliable, durable, cost-effective, easy to install, and aesthetically superior. We're excited to bring the next generation of clean energy adoption to Denver."

Timberline Solar™ boasts an industry-defying depth of less than a quarter inch and integrates with traditional shingles to create a sleek and attractive look. It is the first product to achieve UL's 7103 certification, which authorizes GAF Energy to install the system on residential roofs as a roofing product and a solar energy product — the first of its kind to be recognized as both. In addition, GAF Energy worked with Sandia National Laboratories, a U.S. Department of Energy research and development lab, to verify the product's strength and durability. (Continue reading here to learn more)

You can always count on Roper Roofing & Solar for all your solar panel installation and Timberline Solar shingle installation needs in Golden, CO. Contact us today!

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