Are you looking to invest in a solar panel system for your home? Are you wondering what types of solar panels are best for you?
The number of homeowners installing solar panels at home keeps increasing. In 2020 alone, 43% of electricity production came from solar energy. This is thanks to policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit, which led to the rapid decline of cost.
Today, you can buy an average-sized system at $20,000 or lower. This is a 70% drop from the original pre-incentive price of $40,000 in 2010.
Are you looking to join the smart energy transition trend? Then this article is for you. Here are three types of solar panels that you need to know to get you started!
The oldest and most common type of solar system is monocrystalline panels. This type of solar panel has at least 40 pure silicon monocrystalline solar cells, thus the name.
Due to the interaction between sunlight and silicon, monocrystalline solar panels appear black. Although the cells are black, you can choose various designs and colors for the back sheets and frames.
Manufacturers use a process called the Czochralski. This method places a crystal “seed” of silicon in a vat of pure molten silicon. This creates a single solid crystal shell called “ingot.”
The ingot is then sliced into silicon wafers, which they use to make solar cells. Finally, they’ll assemble the solar cells to make the solar panel. Since monocrystalline solar panels have one crystal silicon, electrons can flow with ease.
As such, these panels have the highest efficiency rating among all the types of solar panels. It ranges from 17% to 22%, thus producing more power than other types of solar panels.
This makes them ideal for homeowners who have limited roof space. A few monocrystalline solar panels are enough to generate the solar energy you need.
Monocrystalline performs the best in a warm climate. They’re also projected to last for as long as 25 to 30 years, depending on usage.
High Power Capacity
Further, monocrystalline panels are also known for having the highest power capacity. A lot of monocrystalline panels have a power output of at least 320 watts. If that’s not enough, the market also offers panels that go up to 375 watts or higher.
The downside is that these panels are more expensive. However, some companies offer great solar financing deals.
Polycrystalline panels, also called multicrystalline panels, is a cheaper alternative for monocrystalline panels. These residential panels contain at least 60 solar cells.
What distinguishes polycrystalline from monocrystalline cells is the fact that they are blueish. This happens because silicon fragments have a different way of reflecting sunlight than pure silicon. You also can’t find gaps between its corners.
As with monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline is also made of silicon solar cells. The difference is that polycrystalline panels use a different cooling process. This is why several crystals form instead of one.
Since each polycrystalline panel consists of multiple silicon cells, electrons can’t move through them as easily. As a result, the efficiency rate of the panel is lesser, ranging from 15% to 17%.
A lower efficiency rate also implies that polycrystalline have lower power output. Most polycrystalline panels available in the market have a power output of 240 watts. However, some polycrystalline panels can go as high as 300 watts.
Thin-film solar panels
Thin-film solar panels are a newer development in the industry. These types of solar panels are 350 times thinner than silicon panels. You can find them in black or blue, depending on the material used to make them.
Thin-Film solar panel is the cheapest among all other solar panels. This is because it uses lesser materials and is easier to manufacture.
Since they are lightweight and flexible, they are easier to install. As such, homeowners get to save on installation costs. However, among the three types of solar panels, this has a shorter lifespan.
A few years back, the efficiency rating of thin-film solar panels was in single digits. Thanks to researchers, they now come in the 10% to 13% efficiency range.
Homeowners will need to install more to get the same amount of electricity that crystalline panels produce. This is why thin-film solar panels aren’t recommended for a home with limited roof space.
What makes them superior is that they have the best temperature coefficient. This means that they’re less affected by high temperatures. As such, when it gets hot, their performance will decrease by only a little.
To be specific, they lose -0.2% per degree Celsius. This is much smaller compared to the -0.3% and -0.5% drop of mono and polycrystalline panels.
Further, these solar panels come with high-quality glass layers. Such makes thin-film solar panels robust against moisture. Thus, they’re the best solar panels for areas with tropical climates.
Thin-Film Solar Panel Variations
What makes thin-film panels different is that they don’t always use silicon. A solar company creates these by placing the main material between the conductive material and a layer of glass. The main material can either be cadmium telluride, amorphous silicon, or copper indium gallium selenide.
Cadmium telluride requires the lowest water and leaves the lowest carbon footprint. The problem is that because cadmium is toxic by nature, recycling is more expensive.
Meanwhile, amorphous silicon panels use non-crystalline silicon. This allows them to have the lowest production cost, thus, the lower price.
Copper indium gallium selenide panels, as the name suggests, combine thin layers of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium. This combination makes it have the highest efficiency rate among thin-panel types. However, efficiency is not comparable to crystalline silicon panels.
Learn About Types of Solar Panels and More Today!
Whether you choose monocrystalline or thin-fil solar panels, you’re looking to gain great benefits from them. From being able to save money from electric bills to help mitigate climate change. These types of solar panels guarantee that every dime of your money is worthwhile.
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