J Ferg Knowledge Base
What You Should Know About the Types of Solar Panels
When you decide to go solar, you may not realize how many options you have. There are many different types of solar panels. Each type varies in performance, capabilities, energy-efficiency levels, and total installation costs. Here are the most common types of solar panels, so you can decide which one is best for your home.
Monocrystalline panelsMonocrystalline solar panels are cylinder-shaped, dark black and uniform in color. They are one of the most popular types because their solar cells are made of a single silicon crystal. Silicon is a material with low toxicity, long-term durability, and optimal thermal expansion properties. Since monocrystalline panels use pure silicon, they tend to achieve higher levels of efficiency, with an efficiency rate of 15-20%. During manufacturing, the smoothing and rounding of the cell edge also helps them produce more electricity. This means your home will need fewer panels. While monocrystalline solar panels have a higher cost, they usually last longer and often come with more extended warranties. Solar panel manufacturers LG and Q Cells, which were SolarReviews top two solar panel picks in 2021, manufacture monocrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline panelsPolycrystalline solar panels are made from many different pieces of silicon instead of just one which results in a cheaper cost. However, they are less efficient, producing around 50 watts less than monocrystalline panels. They are also not as heat tolerant. The most significant benefit to these types of panels is the cost. Monocrystalline panels range from about $1 to $1.50 per watt, while polycrystalline solar panels are around $0.90 to $1 per watt.
Thin-film panelsAlthough newer and used less frequently, thin-film panels are rising in popularity. These are not crystalline solar panels. Instead, they are made by rolling layers of semiconductor material out on a surface to create a film. They are the easiest solar panels to manufacture, generate less waste than crystalline panels, and are more flexible. However, they are also less efficient and degrade quicker.
How to decide which solar panel is right for your homeWhen deciding which type of solar panel you prefer, you should consider several aspects:
- Roof space
- The panel’s access to sunlight
- Desired energy efficiency
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