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Different Types of Solar Panels

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Find the Right Solar Panel That Fits Your Home or Office

When you think about installing solar panels, you usually consider factors like cost, aesthetic, and energy efficiency. While these are important factors, there is a factor in solar panels that will affect all three of these: the types of solar panels you choose. The types of solar panels on the market today will affect how much installation and manufacturing cost as well as how the panels will look on your roof. It’s one of the most important considerations for a solar panel installation.

There are about seven types of solar panels, and each one has its pros and cons. The right solar panels will depend on your specific situation and what you hope solar panels will do for you. In this guide, we’ll discuss three major types of solar panels for generating power at your home and/or office that are currently available in the market, the pros and cons of each type, and how to choose the best type of solar panel for you.

The major types of solar panels

There are three major types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline (also known as multi-crystalline), and thin-film. Each type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and the solar panel type best suited for your installation will depend on factors specific to your own property and desired system characteristics. Also each of these types of solar cells is made in a unique way and has a different aesthetic appearance.

The three types of solar panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels. Each of these types of solar cells is made in a unique way and has a different aesthetic appearance. Here’s the breakdown for each type of solar panel.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are the oldest type of solar panel and the most developed. These solar panels are made from about 40 of the monocrystalline solar cells.

Monocrystalline solar panels are generally thought of as a premium solar product. The main advantages of monocrystalline panels are higher efficiencies and sleeker aesthetics.

To make solar cells for monocrystalline solar panels, silicon is formed into bars and cut into wafers. These types of panels are called “monocrystalline” to indicate that the silicon used is single-crystal silicon. Because the cell is composed of a single crystal, the electrons that generate a flow of electricity have more room to move. As a result, monocrystalline panels are more efficient than their polycrystalline counterparts.

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline solar panels generally have lower efficiencies than monocrystalline options, but their advantage is a lower price point. In addition, polycrystalline solar panels tend to have a blue hue (colour) instead of the black hue of monocrystalline panels.

Polycrystalline solar panels are also made from silicon. However, instead of using a single crystal of silicon, manufacturers melt many fragments of silicon together to form the wafers for the panel. Polycrystalline solar panels are also referred to as “multi-crystalline,” or many-crystal silicon. Because there are many crystals in each cell, there is less freedom for the electrons to move. As a result, polycrystalline solar panels have lower efficiency ratings than monocrystalline panels.

Thin-film solar panels

Thin-film solar panels are an extremely new development in the solar panel industry. The most distinguishing feature of thin-film panels is that they aren’t always made from silicon. They can be made from a variety of materials, including cadmium telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon (a-Si), and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS). These solar cells are created by placing the main material between thin sheets of conductive material with a layer of glass on top for protection. The a-Si panels do use silicon, but they use non-crystalline silicon and are also topped with glass. As their name suggests, thin-film panels are easy to identify by their thin appearance. These panels are approximately 350 times thinner than those that use silicon wafers. But thin-film frames can be large sometimes, and that can make the appearance of the entire solar system comparable to that of a monocrystalline or polycrystalline system. Thin-film cells can be black or blue, depending on the material they were made from.

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