Types of Solar Panels
The three main kinds of solar panels on the market right now are thin-film, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline. The design, functionality, price, and manufacturing methods of these solar panels differ. One choice may be better than the others, depending on the type of photovoltaic (PV) installation you’re thinking about.
Types Of Solar Panels
To help you decide which type of solar panel is ideal for you, we’ve broken down each type in this article according to cost, materials, appearance, and efficiency.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
The most common solar panels utilized in rooftop solar panel installations nowadays are monocrystalline solar panels. The Czochralski process, in which a silicon “seed” crystal is dropped into a molten vat of pure silicon at a high temperature, is used to create monocrystalline silicon solar cells. This procedure creates an ingot of silicon, also known as a single silicon crystal, which is then divided into thin silicon wafers for use in solar modules.
Types of Monocrystalline Panels
There are many different types of monocrystalline solar panels available on the market today. Monocrystalline PERC cells, also known as Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact cells, are becoming more and more popular. The production capacity of PERC cells is increased by using a modified manufacturing and assembly procedure. Bifacial solar panels, a different monocrystalline technology, are becoming more popular in commercial ground-mounted applications since they can produce power on both the front and back of a module.
Monocrystalline solar panels are perhaps the most expensive form of solar panel available. This is primarily attributable to the manufacturing process; as solar cells are created from a single silicon crystal, producers must pay for the crystals’ production. The Czochralski technique uses a lot of energy and wastes silicon that can be utilized to create polycrystalline solar cells in the future.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient type of solar panel, with efficiency ratings ranging from 17% to 23% on average. Some of the latest Half-cut mono PERC panels can have an efficiency of up to 25%. Because they require fewer panels to produce the same amount of electricity, monocrystalline solar panels are perfect for spaces with small roof spaces.
The efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels can be attributed to their manufacturing method. Electrons may readily move throughout monocrystalline solar cells since they are built of a single silicon crystal, boosting total efficiency.
Monocrystalline panels often have the highest power capacity ratings in addition to having the highest efficiency ratings. The majority of monocrystalline panels on the market right now have a capacity of more than 350 watts with the latest ones reaching up to 600 watts.
Monocrystalline panels look completely black, which makes them blend in well with your roof. Because of the way light interacts with the crystallized silicon, these cells seem black. However, there is a lot of empty space on the panel due to the design of monocrystalline solar cells. Monocrystalline solar panels come in a variety of colors for their back sheets and frames, despite the fact that the solar cells themselves are black. The metal frames are often black or silver, whereas the back sheet of the solar panel will most frequently be black, silver, or white. Monocrystalline panels still have a modern aesthetic overall, but they stand out a little more than thin film panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
There was a time when homeowners wishing to install solar panels on a budget would frequently choose polycrystalline panels, also known as “multi-crystalline panels.” Polycrystalline panels are made of silicon solar cells, just like monocrystalline panels. However, because of the unusual cooling process, numerous crystals form rather than just one solid crystal. These panels were all the hype before the monocrystalline solar panels took over the market. They are still in production and demand where there is a need for low-priced and mediocre performance panels.
Generally speaking, polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive than monocrystalline ones. Polycrystalline panels have historically been the least expensive alternative for households that want to go solar without significantly losing panel performance.
This is due to the fact that silicon fragments rather than a single, pure silicon crystal are used to make the cells. This makes it possible to manufacture cells considerably more cheaply for both manufacturers and ultimately end users. Between 2012 and 2016, polycrystalline panels gained a sizable market share in home solar installations thanks to low costs.
The cost difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels is, nevertheless, decreasing. Now, more households are prepared to spend a little extra to purchase monocrystalline panels with much greater efficiency and power ratings.
Efficiency ratings for polycrystalline panels typically vary from 15% to 17%. The movement of electrons through the solar cell is what causes the lower efficiency ratings. Multiple silicon cells are found in polycrystalline cells, which makes it harder for electrons to travel around and lowers the panel’s efficiency.
Due to their lower efficiency, polycrystalline solar panels typically produce between 240 and 300 watts less power than monocrystalline solar panels. Power ratings for certain polycrystalline panels are higher than 300 watts.
The efficiency and power ratings of polycrystalline panels have, however, received a minor boost over time thanks to new technologies and production techniques. When compared to monocrystalline panels; however, they still don’t stand a chance.
Polycrystalline solar cells, in contrast to monocrystalline solar cells, are typically produced using a technique that gives them a bluish tint. The cells appear marbled because of the various ways that light reflects off the silicon shards inside them. As a result, the appearance of each polycrystalline panel may vary significantly from the panel next to it. Polycrystalline panels, like monocrystalline ones, feature variously colored back sheets and frames. The back sheets of polycrystalline panels are often either white or silver, while the frames are typically silver.
Thin Film Solar Panels
Due to their lower efficiency ratings, thin film solar cells are typically used in large-scale utility and industrial solar projects. A thin coating of photovoltaic material is deposited onto a solid surface, such as glass, to create thin film solar panels. Amorphous silicon (a-Si), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), and cadmium telluride (CdTe) are a few of these solar materials. Although each of these materials produces a unique “type” of solar panel, they are all considered thin-film solar cells. The photovoltaic material condenses during manufacture into a thin, lightweight sheet that is occasionally bendable.
Thin film solar panels are the least expensive type of solar panel, partly due to their ease of installation and equipment requirements. The price you pay for thin-film solar cells will mostly rely on the type of thin-film panel; CIGS solar panels are significantly more expensive to make than CdTe or amorphous silicon solar panels in general.
Regardless of the price of the panels themselves, installing a thin-film solar panel system could be less expensive overall than doing the same for a monocrystalline or polycrystalline system. Due to their reduced weight and greater maneuverability, thin-film solar panels require less labor during installation because they are simpler for installers to take up onto rooftops and fasten. As a result, labor expenses will be lower, which will help decrease the entire cost of a solar installation.
They can produce enough electricity to power a home, but they also operate much less well and take up a lot more room. Additionally, thin film panels need to be updated more frequently than other panel types since they age considerably more quickly than other panel types, which increases long-term recurrent expenses.
The efficiencies and power capacity of thin-film solar panels are often lower than those of monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels. The materials utilized in the cells will affect the efficiency, although thin film panels that are currently on the market typically have efficiencies between 10 and 13 percent. Thin-film technology does not come in uniform sizes, unlike monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels which are available in standardized 60, 72, and 96-cell varieties. As a result, the physical size of a thin-film panel will have a significant impact on its power capacity. In general, monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels will have higher power density per square foot than thin-film panel technology.
To produce the same amount of electricity as crystalline silicon solar panels, you would need to install more thin film panels across a larger area in order to meet your energy needs. Thin film solar panels are therefore not truly practical for residential installations with constrained space. Thin film panels often have the best temperature coefficient, which means they are significantly better at handling heat than other panel types but have lower performance specifications in the majority of other categories.
The thinness and low profile of thin-film solar panels technology are its primary visual differentiator. Thin-film panels are, as their name implies, typically thinner than other panel kinds. As opposed to the crystalline wafers used in monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, the cells inside the panels are about 350 times thinner. All-black thin film panels have a modern appearance. Because of their thin shape, they can lie flat against rooftops and fit in better. In certain cases, thin film panels are so thin that it is difficult to even see the panel’s individual cells. Additionally, they often have less wiring and busbars, which leaves less open space. They have a nice aesthetic; however, they are really ineffective.
What is the Best Choice for your Home?
The best solar panel type for home solar installations is monocrystalline. Even though the cost will be slightly greater, you won’t have to give up durability or performance to have a system with a subdued appearance. Additionally, the monocrystalline panels’ high efficiency and power output ratings can help you save more money over the course of your system’s lifespan. Polycrystalline panels can be a better choice for you if money is short. Because of their poor performance and durability, thin film solar panels are not advised for residential installations. Additionally, it is unlikely that you will have nearly enough room to install the necessary number of thin film panels to meet your household’s electricity needs.
Contact Premier Energy and we can help you pick the best solar panels for your home at an affordable price.