The future of solar power has never looked brighter. The US has already surpassed 2 million installations and projected to hit three million by 2021 and four million by 2023. Still, there is so much information about solar energy and installations a lot of people still don’t know.
For instance, did you know that there are different types of solar panels? Different panels are constructed using different cells, which gives each type different characteristics. There are three main solar panel types—monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.
In this post, we’ll explore all these options and help you make an informed decision about which one is most suitable for your home.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are by far the most popular solar panel types in the market. Most people choose these panels based on how they look because the solar cells are single black color. They are easily identifiable by the shape of the silicon wafer, which looks a lot like squares that have their corners cut off.
The Monocrystalline Panel Construction
Monocrystalline panels get their name from how they are constructed. Every one of the solar cells is constructed with a solar wafer, made of one single crystal of silicon. Manufacturers use the Czochralski method to form a single crystal. They take the seed crystal and place it into a high-temperature vat of molten pure silicon.
The molten silicon forms around the seed to create one crystal, after which it is drawn up. This crystal, also known as an ingot, is sliced into thin wafers, which are in turn used to create the solar cells.
Most often than not, you’ll find that a monocrystalline panel contains about 60 to 70 solar cells, which highly depends on the size of the panel. Most residential properties use the 60-cell silicon panels.
When it comes to performance, out of all the different types of solar panels, monocrystalline solar panels have the highest power, capacity, and efficiency. The efficiency can range from 17 to 22%, which is quite a considerable amount. Given the fact that these panels are made from a single crystal, the electrons have the ability to flow easily through the cells.
This makes the cell efficiency a lot higher compared to other types of solar panels. It also means that you require fewer panels and less space to reach the required power capacity. This makes them an ideal option for homeowners with limited space.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Also known as multicrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels are the best option if you’re looking to install solar panels on a budget. Polycrystalline silicon cells don’t have their corners cut off. The large white spaces on the panels are not as visible as the ones on monocrystalline panels.
They come in a blue color due to the manufacturing process. Most people consider this a disadvantage as they are not aesthetically appealing. Additionally, they are also less efficient compared to monocrystalline panels.
Like monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline cells are manufactured using a seed crystal placed in molten silica. The major difference is that instead of pulling out the crystal, the silica vat is allowed to cool down.
It results in multiple crystals that have a marbled blue appearance. Polycrystalline panels also have about 60 to 70 cells, just like monocrystalline panels.
Given that these types of panels have multiple silicon crystals in each cell, it’s a lot harder for the electrons to flow efficiently. This means that the overall efficiency of the solar panels is lower compared to monocrystalline panels.
The efficiency rates border between 15 to 17%, which makes them a lot cheaper. Not by a lot, though, because you need more panels to reach your required power capacity.
Thin Film Solar Panels
Thin-film solar panels are quite different from the first to solar panel options because they are solid black. They also lack the normal cell outlines on the face of the crystalline solar panels.
They are lightweight and also very flexible, making them one of the easiest solar panel install. These are popular in large-scale operations like industrial and utility applications because they have more efficiency.
The construction process of thin-film solar panels involves depositing thin layers or photovoltaic substance on solid surfaces such as glass. Some of these photovoltaic substances include cadmium telluride, amorphous silicon, and dye-sensitized solar cells. Different materials create different types of solar panels, but they are all categorized as then film syllables.
Thin Film Solar Panel Performance
This is, by far, one of the worst solar panel technologies because they have incredibly low efficiency. They range between 10% and 13% in efficiency, which means you would need multiple panels to meet your desired power capacity.
For this reason alone, these solar panel options are not suitable for residential installations due to the limited amount of space on the roof. Additionally, they also degrade faster and need to be replaced a lot more often.
Bonus Solar Panel Type: Solar Shingles
Solar shingles are relatively new in the market, but it’s an installation option that’s already a growing trend. They can mimic architectural shingles and come with the added benefit of solar energy.
They are just as durable as asphalt shingles and will protect your home like a regular roof. Solar shingles are also designed to withstand different types of weather elements. However, they are also expensive compared to the first three options.
Different Types of Solar Panels: Which Is Suitable For Your Home?
These are the four different types of solar panels. In general, residential homeowners can start by ruling out thin-film panels as they are not a practical option. Monocrystalline panels make more sense for residential applications.
They offer better efficiency and a sleeker aesthetic appeal. However, they tend to be more expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget but still want to install solar, polycrystalline panels will get the job done.
There are two things more important than choosing the best type of solar panel: choosing the right brand and choosing a professional solar panel installer. Beyond that, if you want more information posts on home improvement, please visit our blog section today!