Amorphous vs Crystalline: The Best Solar Technology For Your Application

Posted on 01/28/2019 at 12:00 by Seth Hansen

Amorphous vs Crystalline The Best Technology For Your Application Title Graphic


You’re creating a new product and thinking through different details. Power isn’t just a part of the puzzle you find yourself having to put together. It is the most important piece.


Well into the digital age, companies are looking for new and unique ways to power products that enhance value, lead to a great customer experience and make business sense.


Many times grid power is unavailable and products have to stand alone and perform day after day no matter the conditions.


When researching renewable solutions to these power problems solar is almost always at the top of the list.


The solar market is enormous and extremely competitive with companies rising and falling every single day.


A couple simple Google searches can lead you to thousands of different ultra cheap off the shelf solutions, but under heavier scrutiny, these solutions rarely ever meet your businesses’ specific needs.


PowerFilm isn’t confined to pushing a small selection of products or even a single technology.


We offer a wide range of amorphous silicon and crystalline silicon solutions.


If one of our standard configurations isn’t what you are looking for, no problem!


Custom solutions are our focus and we are dedicated to creating the best possible panel by selecting the ideal charge controller, encapsulation and substrate that’s best for your application, specific use case and operating environment.


Our goal is to listen to your specific requirements and suggest the best solution.


Before recommending the solar technology that is the best for your needs let’s examine the key advantages of amorphous and also of crystalline:


Amorphous Advantages:



  • Amorphous silicon material inherently has more tolerance for defects than crystalline. (Just how durable is amorphous silicon thin film solar material? (Watch this extreme durability test where we punctured one of our panels.) Therefore, if you damage a portion it doesn’t have a large effect on overall power output. Conversely, crystalline panels are far more brittle and if handled roughly the entire panel will fail.



  • Depending on the design, panels can be easily rolled or folded for storage and transport. Foldable Solar Panels can be deployed and stored in seconds meaning quicker set up and tear down. Rollable Solar Panels are 100% waterproof and IP67 rated making them the perfect lightweight solution for any marine environment.



  • Amorphous is one of the lightest solar technologies on the market today. When you are carrying your primary power source on your back, weight is of the utmost importance. Amorphous silicon technology is paper thin making it ultra-light when compared to other solar technologies.



  • Looking to integrate solar material into your product? Amorphous conforms seamlessly to simple curves in any product and rather than detracting from the intended design, solar integration enhances the overall aesthetic.  



  • Using our roll-to-roll process, we have total control of size, shape, voltage, current and power (especially compared to crystalline where customization, on smaller scale panels, is difficult). After listening to your specific application’s needs we can create a custom solution that is ideal for you.


Shade Tolerance

  • Amorphous is the best solar technology for low-light or poor light environments. Amorphous is inherently more shade tolerant than other solar technologies on the market. Additionally amorphous performs better in less than ideal sun “turning on earlier in the day and staying on later in the day.”


Indoor Performance

  • A special version of our amorphous material is available and optimized for indoor light sources. Amorphous has better indoor performance compared to crystalline (in one test we conducted amorphous outperformed crystalline by 4x) and we are constantly taking additional steps to make the material even better indoors.


After reviewing the advantages of amorphous compared to other technologies what if you are looking for something else?


What if weight, portability, and flexibility aren’t vital for your particular application?


Don’t worry, we have other options.


We understand that amorphous silicon isn’t always the best solution.


Current crystalline products on the market are cheap, ineffective and often fail in the field. PowerFilm now offers superior crystalline solar panels for specific use cases.


Crystalline Advantages:



  • If you are concerned about cost, crystalline solutions can be half the price or less per watt (when compared to amorphous). A quick Google search will return results on hundreds of different low cost crystalline solar panels but more often than not you get what you pay for. Our crystalline solutions are less expensive than our amorphous solutions and can be perfect for specific applications. We source only the highest quality crystalline cells, arrange panels utilizing whole cells rather than cut cells, employ the best lamination and backing for your specific operating environment and tune an integrated custom charge controller to output the exact amount of power that you need.



  • Other crystalline solutions on the market are one size fits all. The only problem is that while inexpensive, these panels aren’t tuned to your specific use case and don’t cater to your needs. We are able to customize the substrate, lamination, and integrated charge controllers. Don’t worry about sourcing a specific charge controller and determining where to house it. We integrated the charge controller into the solar panel so you get the proper power, peace of mind and one fewer item to design around and source.



  • Often times so-called “high efficiency” crystalline solar panels aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Many are manufactured using cut cells (to build voltage, but cutting cells introduces many different issues. Learn more about the advantages of whole cells vs. cut cells.) Additionally, many panels are produced and never tested to ensure the panel is defect-free. PowerFilm sources only the highest quality SunPower cells, leading to high efficiency and reliable solar panels.


You’ve reviewed the key differences between amorphous silicon and crystalline silicon. You’ve learned that all crystalline solar panels are not created equal and now you have to decide what solar manufacturer is right for you.


When making that all important decision consider the following:


PowerFilm Advantages:


Not confined to a single technology

  • PowerFilm has extensive experience with solar technologies including amorphous silicon, crystalline silicon and gallium arsenide. We will listen to your specific power needs, design constraints and operating environment, suggesting the solution that will perform best for you.


Design complete custom solutions

  • With whatever solar technology you select for your project we create the best solution incorporating a range of choices in substrates, encapsulations, electronics, charge controllers, batteries, etc.


Speed to market

  • Our design and manufacturing team can rapidly prototype, iterate quickly and help your product get to market before the competition.


100% US-based company

  • A facility based solely in the United States allows for total control of every part of the design, engineering and high-quality manufacturing process. Additionally, our team will take your call or reply to your email quickly and professionally so you can spend less time on the phone and more time on your business.


Track Record

  • The solar industry is incredibly volatile with companies rising and falling each day. With over three decades in business, we have the expertise and knowledge to help you at each step of your product’s journey.


Power is an important factor when introducing any new electronic product. Selecting the best partner to work with is more important still. Solar is booming and there are more options now than ever before.


PowerFilm isn’t locked into offering a single product or even a single technology. Our focus is on developing a solution that is perfect for you, utilizing whatever technology is best suited for your application.


We would love to help you develop and power your next product.


Interested in learning more about how we can create a total power solution for you? Contact us and let’s start a conversation today.


Categories: Solar Education