There are four main types of home solar panels currently available: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin-film solar panels. The solar cells in the panel determine what type it is. Each kind of solar cell has distinct characteristics, making specific boards more suited to various situations. We’ve compiled a complete overview of monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels that will help determine the best type for your home.
Which type of solar panel is best?
Monocrystalline solar panels have become among the most well-known solar panels used for rooftop solar panels in the present. Solar cells made of monocrystalline silicon are made with the Kochanski method. This is where the ‘seed’ crystal made of silicon is placed in the molten state of silicon at a very high temperature.
The process creates one silicon crystal, called an ingot. It is cut in thin silicon wafers used later in the solar module. Passivated Emitter and Rear contact cells, also called the PERC cell, are becoming more sought-after monocrystalline alternatives. Solar panels with Bifacial faces are another monocrystalline technology that can generate electricity on the back and front sides of a module. They are getting more popular in the commercial field of ground-mounted systems.
Panels made of polycrystalline, also called ‘multi-crystalline panel,’ have become very popular with homeowners looking to set up solar panels for their homes on a tight budget. Polycrystalline panels found on dwellings for residential use typically have 60 solar cells.
The thin-film solar cells are mainly utilized in large-scale utility and industrial solar installations due to their low-efficiency ratings. Thin-film solar panels are produced by laying the thin layer of photovoltaic material on an un-smooth surface, similar to glass. Some of these photovoltaic compounds comprise Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) as well as copper indium gallium ester (CIGS) and Cadmium Telluride (Cadet). Each of these materials produces an entirely different type of solar panel. However, they all belong to the thin-film solar cell category. n manufacturing, the photovoltaic substance is formed into a thin sheet of lightweight material that is, in some instances, flexible.
Types of solar panel based on performances
Most efficient Monocrystalline
Efficiency ratings for monocrystalline solar panels vary between 17% and 22%, which earns them the title of being the highest-efficiency solar panels of theirs. The higher efficiency of monocrystalline panels makes them perfect for homes with a limited surface area, as they require fewer panels to produce the power you demand.
Solar panels made of monocrystalline silicon have their production process to thank for being efficient. Since the monocrystalline cells are composed of a single crystal made of silicon, electrons can effortlessly flow through the cell, increasing the efficiency of the entire cell. The monocrystalline panels offer the most efficient ratings, but they generally also have the highest ratings for power capacity. The majority of monocrystalline panels on the market are today equipped with an output of at least 325 watts. However, they can increase to 350 watts or more!
Mid-tier Performance: Polycrystalline
Efficiency ratings for polycrystalline panels generally vary from 15% to 17 percent. Low-efficiency ratings are due to the way electrons move around the cell. Because polycrystalline cells are made up of many silicon cells, the electrons can’t move as swiftly and, as a result, lower the panel’s efficiency.
The lower effectiveness of polycrystalline panels implies less power output than monocrystalline panels, typically between 240 and 300 watts. Specific polycrystalline panels come with power ratings that exceed 300 watts. However, modern technologies and manufacturing techniques have given the power and efficiency for polycrystalline panels slight improvement over the past few years, slowly closing the gap in performance between polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels.
The lowest performance
The lowest performance thin-film
Solar panels made of the thin film have meager efficiency ratings. Even several years ago, the efficiency of thin films was only in several single digits. Researchers recently reached 23.4 percent efficiency using the prototype for a thin-film cell. However, the panel made of a thin film that is available commercially typically has a 10-13 percentage range efficiency.
To fulfill your energy requirements, you’ll need to put in additional thin-film panels across vast areas to produce similar amounts of energy as the crystalline silicon panels. This is why thin-film solar panels do not make sense for residential installations, where the space available is limited. Although they are less efficient in many other areas, thin-film panels have the highest thermal coefficient. When the temperature of a solar panel rises, the conference will produce less power. The temperature coefficient will tell the amount of power output decreases above 25°C that the panel experiences.
The typical temperature coefficient for polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels usually ranges between -0.3 percent to -0.5 percent. Thin-film commissions, however, average approximately -0.2 percent, so the panels made of thin-film are more efficient at absorbing heat better than other types of meetings.
Solar panel types by price
The most expensive solar panels
Monocrystalline solar panels can be the most costly of the three solar panels due to their manufacturing process and higher efficiency capabilities. But, as the manufacturing process and solar panels’ technology have advanced, the price gap between polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels has decreased considerably. As per the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, monocrystalline solar panels currently sell at around $0.05 for each watt more than polycrystalline panels.
Mid-cost Polycrystalline panels
The polycrystalline panel has been the most affordable choice for homeowners considering solar without sacrificing panel performance in the past few years. The low cost of polycrystalline panels allowed them to take up a substantial market share of residential solar installations from 2012 through 2016. As mentioned earlier, the cost gap between polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels is reducing. More homeowners are prepared to shell out a higher price for more power efficiency and better efficiency for the monocrystalline panel.
Lowest cost: Thin-film panels
Solar panels made of thin-film are the lowest costs of solar panel varieties, primarily due to their ease of put up, requiring less. However, they have fewer capabilities and require large amounts of space to produce the electricity needed to power a house. Furthermore, thin-film panels degrade faster than other types of meetings and, therefore, need replacement more frequently, resulting in higher cost-per-year recurring expenses.
Types of solar panels based on appearance
The most attractive: Thin-film panels
Film panels that are thin sport the look of a sleek, black appearance. The thinness of their design lets them lie flat against the roofs, meaning they can blend more seamlessly. In reality, it’s nearly impossible to see individual cells inside the panel with certain thin films. They also contain fewer busbars and wiring, which means smaller white areas. However, as they are incredibly inefficient, you’d have to wrap the complete roof with thin-film panels. This might or not be what you want.
Mid-tier appearance Monocrystalline panels
Monocrystalline panels are characterized by the appearance of a solid black, which makes them look very delicate in your home. However, how the monocrystalline solar cells are designed creates plenty of space. Certain manufacturers have figured out how to deal with this by using black packing or shaping the cells differently. However, these changes in appearance can impact the price and the effectiveness of solar panels.
An appearance with the worst look
Polycrystalline panels can appear like an unruly thumb. The method by which polycrystalline solar cells are produced creates the appearance of marbles, blue. This means that every single polycrystalline panel is distinct from the next one. The majority of homeowners don’t have a keen view of the look of panels made of polycrystalline. Thin-film panels typically have lower hail and wind ratings than polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels. Therefore, even though thin-film panels may appear appealing, a bad storm can significantly damage.
Aspects Affecting Solar Panel Types
The heat tolerance of a solar panel is one of the most significant factors affecting its efficiency. Every degree that the temperature increases result in a drop in output, as measured by the panel’s temperature coefficient. In this regard, thin-film boards have the edge over crystalline panels, whose output loss is only 0.2% versus 0.3% – 0.5% for thin-film meetings.
It is also essential to ensure that the building is weather-resistant. Colder climates need to have hail resistance. In comparison to crystallized panels, thin-film panels are more susceptible to hail damage. It is also important to take into account degradation caused by light. During the first few hours of sunlight exposure, oxygen from the production process temporarily reduces performance. It usually results in a loss of 1% – 3% of output.
Which type of solar panel is best for your home?
Solar panels with monocrystalline cells are the ideal design for installing solar panels for homes. While you’ll pay more, you’ll be getting an elegant appearance without sacrificing quality or longevity. Additionally, the superior performance and efficiency ratings that you can get with monocrystalline panels will help you save money throughout the system’s life.
If you’re working on a tight budget, polycrystalline panels could be more suitable for you. We don’t recommend thin-film solar panels for residential installations because their durability and performance aren’t enough to make the cost worthwhile. You likely won’t have enough space for the number of thin-film panels required to cover your household’s electricity consumption.