Amorphous solar panels: What you need to know

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Amorphous solar panels

As the solar industry continues to grow, so do its product offerings. Various alternative solar panel technologies offer some unique advantages over traditional solar panels. One alternative to conventional panels is amorphous solar panels: thin-film solar panels constructed to be bendable while using less material. This article will explain what you need to know about this exciting technology.

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Key takeaways

  • Amorphous solar panels are the cheapest per watt ($/watt).

  • Amorphous solar cells are more widely used in low-power electronics than solar panels.

  • Amorphous solar panels aren't for everyone: they are much less efficient than traditional solar panels.

  • To compare quotes with different types of solar equipment, check out the EnergySage Marketplace.

Like all solar panels available today, amorphous solar panels (a-Si) capture energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity. These solar panels are made from non-crystalline silicon on top of a glass, plastic, or metal substrate.

Unlike other solar panels, amorphous solar panels don't use traditional cells; instead, they're constructed using a deposition process that involves forming an extremely thin silicon layer on top of a substrate. The thin film interconnects using laser-cut patterns instead of the mechanical connections used in traditional solar panels. This construction allows amorphous panels to be extremely bendable and lightweight while generating electricity.

It's important to note that amorphous solar cells are mainly used to power smaller devices – solar panels using amorphous cells are not widely available commercially.

Because they're lightweight and flexible, amorphous solar panels are often easier and cheaper to install than traditional ones. They're generally not used in rooftop solar arrays due to their low efficiency, but you may be able to fit them on curved surfaces or in smaller spaces due to their flexibility. That makes amorphous panels potentially applicable in unique installation situations. Aesthetically, amorphous solar panels have lower profile designs than traditional panels, making them particularly attractive to those seeking a more discrete design.

Traditional rigid solar panels fall into two categories: polycrystalline or monocrystalline. Like amorphous panels, both polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels are made from silicon. Monocrystalline panels use cells composed of a single crystal for higher efficiency and a premium cost. In contrast, polycrystalline panels come from melted fragments of many silicon crystals and come at a lower price point but are comparatively less efficient.

Amorphous solar panels vs. monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels

(Click to sort ascending)
Amorphous Solar Panels
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
CostLeast expensiveMost expensiveLess expensive
EfficiencyLeast efficientMost efficientLess efficient

Advantages of amorphous solar panels

Because they're so thin, amorphous panels require less silicon, making them more sustainable. Their flexibility also makes them less prone to cracks, one of the most common solar panel defects. Due to the reduced materials and ease of installation, you can also expect amorphous solar panels to cost less than traditional solar panels.

Disadvantages of amorphous solar panels

Amorphous solar panels are significantly less efficient than traditional solar panels. Most amorphous solar panels are only about 7 percent efficient, whereas monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels can exceed 20 percent efficiency. This means you'll need much more roof space to get the same output as traditional solar panels.

Every home will have different considerations when comparing solar panels. Because their efficiency is much lower, amorphous solar panels are generally best for those looking to power smaller loads like electronics. They also might be a good choice if you have a roof with a large surface area, allowing for a larger installation. Some experts recommend installations of amorphous solar panels in places like greenhouses or windows. While amorphous solar panels may be cheaper in terms of $/watts, you'll probably save more overall with traditional solar panels because of their higher efficiency. Importantly, if you're considering amorphous solar panels, they'll still be eligible for the federal solar tax credit.

Since their inception in the 1970s, amorphous silicon cells have become more widely used: amorphous solar panels are now the second most popular thin film solar panel option! Here are some companies that offer amorphous cells and products:


Panasonic, one of the leading solar panel brands, has an amorphous solar cell product called Amorton. You can use these cells in low-light settings – such as in the morning or evening – for indoor and outdoor applications. Panasonic doesn't sell its amorphous solar cells directly to consumers; instead, you can purchase the products that use Amorton from outside retailers.


NauturePower offers small, affordable amorphous solar panels used to run low-power electronics. You might consider their products if you're looking for an on-the-go power source – like traveling by car, RV, or boat. If you're interested in NaturePower amorphous solar panels, you can purchase them through Home Depot and Amazon.

WSL Solar

WSL Solar is a China-based manufacturer that creates amorphous solar cells to power in-home electronic devices. Like Panasonic, WSL Solar does not sell their solar cells directly to consumers – you'll have to purchase products that use their amorphous cells through outside retailers.

EnergySage is the nation's online solar marketplace. When you sign up for a free account, we connect you with local solar companies who compete for your business with custom solar quotes tailored to your needs. Over 10 million people visit EnergySage annually to learn about, shop for and invest in solar. Sign up today to see how much solar can save you.

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