Connections & Mounting

PowerFilm provides many options for connecting and mounting panels to fit the diverse needs of the industries we serve. 

Small amorphous silicon thin film solar panel with wire connections
Small amorphous silicon thin film solar panel with backside contacts
solar panel connected to a pcb using backside contacts

A solar panel needs to integrate electrically and mechanically with the rest of the system. This will look much different for a smaller panel powering an IoT sensor than a large panel installed on a truck.


“In PowerFilm’s amorphous silicon products, positive and negative bus bars are located on the sides of the panels and are currently available in 3/16” – 1/2” widths. Polarity can be determined by observing the orientation of the silver fingers for standard material and interconnect triangles for indoor material, which point from positive to negative.

diagram of a small amorphous solar panel showing positive and negative polarity
small fingerless amorphous solar panel

Directly soldering wire leads to the busbars is the easiest way to connect to an Electronic Component Solar Panel. A soldering iron can be used to burn through the encapsulation layers to reach and connect to the busbar.

 

Exposed front or back-side contact options are available, making panels more compatible with large-scale manufacturing and PCB mounting (see PCB Mounting and Connection). These processes remove the encapsulation above or below the busbar to provide access to the bare metal for electrical connection.  

 

An electrical connection can also be made using selective solder, conductive epoxies, conductive inks, conductive adhesives, z-axis adhesives, or manual soldering.

 

Bus bars can also be extended outside of the encapsulation area to provide a connection.

 

Busbars are available with black tape, giving panels a discrete finish.  

Connection Methods

Small amorphous silicon thin film solar panel with wire connections

Wire Leads

We can provide wire leads on panels anywhere along the length of the bus tape. Wire position and length are set by your requirements.

Small amorphous silicon thin film solar panel with backside contacts

Backside Contacts

Through laser ablation, we can connect leads to the back or underneath panels. We can also provide backside solder contacts for you to use.

Small amorphous silicon thin film solar panel with extended bus tape

Extended Bus Bar Tape

Our WeatherPro process includes extended bus tape for easy connections. The length is set by your specifications.

Mounting Methods

Electronic Component Solar Panel on a Metal Substrate
Electronic Component Solar Panel on a Fabric Substrate

Electronic Component Solar Panels can be mounted via an adhesive bond, mechanical fasteners, or lamination (thermal adhesive) onto a substrate.

 

Panels are compatible with a wide range of adhesive materials, including pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs) such as acrylic, butyl, VHB, and others. 

 

A wide variety of mechanical fasteners such as rivets, grommets, screws, clamps, velcro, etc. can also be used for mounting. In general, make sure fasteners are at least ¼” away from active solar material and busbars.

 

Panels can also be laminated or vacuum-formed to plastic, metal, fiberglass, vinyl, fabric, carbon fiber, and other surfaces.

PCB Mounting and Connection Methods

solar panel connected to a pcb using backside contacts
mini reference design with FPC connectors

Electronic Component Solar Panels can be mounted to PC Boards using glue dots in addition to compatible methods mentioned above.

 

Placement onto a PCB can be made via tape and reel, robotic placement, or manual placement.

 

Electrical connection to a PCB can be made using selective solder, conductive epoxies, conductive inks, conductive adhesives, z-axis adhesives, wire leads, or manual soldering.

 

In addition to the electrical connection techniques mentioned in the previous paragraph, panels can also be connected with tabs inserted into plated through holes/slots or flexible printed circuit (FPC) connectors.