Made in the U.S.A Solar Panels
Cinnamon Solar is proud to install made in the U.S.A. solar panels from Auxin Solar (based in San Jose), Sunniva (Georgia) and SolarWorld (Oregon) — all manufacturers with a strong commitment to U.S. manufacturing. Auxin’s new 100,000 square foot factory in San Jose is highly automated, resulting in relatively low costs compared to other manufacturers. As a result, Cinnamon Solar’s pricing for a rooftop system using U.S. made solar panels is almost always less than a system using panels from other countries. Nevertheless, we do provide options for different panel manufacturers, particularly when our customers want a very high efficiency panel or are extremely cost conscious.
Over the years we’ve used solar panels from factories all over the world; our experience with Chinese, Japanese and Korean panels has been excellent—reliable performance at a good price. We would prefer made in the U.S.A solar panels, but the prices for made in the U.S.A solar panels were too high. The reason is that the solar panel manufacturing process has historically been very labor-intensive.
To get an idea of the potential for cost savings through automation, it’s helpful to understand the traditional manual fabrication process. To make a 60 cell solar panel out of standard 6″ square solar cells, a number of steps are necessary:
- Solar cells are strung together with wires into columns 10 cells high. Traditionally, most of the factories have long tables with workers wearing white hats wielding soldering irons.
- A large piece of tempered glass is covered with a thin sheet of transparent glue (usually EVA), sort of like laying out a bedsheet.
- Six of these columns of soldered solar cells are then placed carefully on top of the glass and glue. It’s tricky to lay them all out straight.
- Another layer transparent glue is placed over the cells (second bedsheet).
- A waterproof backsheet is then placed on top of the top layer of glue (sort of like a bedspread).
- This “laminate,” composed of glass-glue-cells-glue-backsheet, is then heated and compressed in a big machine called a laminator.
- The laminate is then trimmed so that there are no backsheet or glue remnants on the side of the glass.
- The solar panel frames are prepared by injecting adhesive (similar to silicone caulk) into the glass grooves on the four frame sections.
- These pre-glued frame sections are then squeezed onto the laminate.
- The frame sections are then hydraulically pressed tightly together in a hydraulic framing machine.
- The junction box is then glued to the back of the completed solar panel.
- The solar panel is tested for proper output and electrical continuity.
- Bar code, certification and manufacturer labels are applied to the solar panel
- The completed solar panel is then cleaned and placed in a shipping container.
In the past, each of these steps has been primarily a manual process. In addition, this process required manual handling from assembly station to assembly station.
Solar Panel Manufacturing Automation
Over the years, machines have been developed to automate many of these steps, synchronize their operation together, and transport semi-finished components from machine to machine.
Stringer-tabbers handle steps 1 and 3. Computer-controlled conveyors move assemblies from station to station. Automated EVA cutters prepare the EVA and backsheets, automated laminators process two or three panels at a time, automated gluing machines apply just the right amount of adhesive, and the manufacturing process is completed with automated framing machines and automated testing machines.
By automating many of these processes, the labor cost disadvantage of U.S. manufacturing is mitigated. Moreover, the shipping and time-to-market advantages of local manufacturing provide an additional cost savings, making made in the U.S.A solar panels, a compelling alternative.
Contact Cinnamon for a fast and free quote for solar for your home. We’ll customize a system for your needs and step you through the various size and design options that will work best on your rooftop.