Solar energy panels are the most advantageous solution to generate energy from free resources. These energy panels utilize semiconductor technology and photoelectric effect to convert solar energy into electricity. And as solar energy is completely free and harmless for the environment, this is one of the main solutions for the energy crisis.
Choosing the perfect solar energy panel for your home can get frustrating with so many options on the market. Keeping that in mind, here is a comprehensive guide to solar energy panel types to help you make the right decision.
So without any further ado, let us dive right in.
Main types of solar energy panels
Listed below are the four main types of solar panels available on the market. Let us take a look at what they have to offer.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are also known as single-crystal energy panels due to them being made from one single silicon crystal. They are made from the purest form of silicon without significant doping while offering extreme longevity. Furthermore, they take less space than other solar energy panels. Due to its sophisticated production technology, they are quite expensive. That means you are paying the highest price for arguably the most superior solar panels available to this day.
Polycrystalline or Multi Crystalline solar panels
Unlike the monocrystalline solar energy panels, the polycrystalline panels use multiple silicon crystals in one single cell. Multiple slices of crystal are melted into one wafer for converting solar energy into electrical energy. As less silicone is wasted in this process, they are much cheaper than the previous solar panels.
Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) panels
Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell, also popularly known as PERC, are the most efficient solar energy panels to this day. The PERC cell can convert solar energy more easily and lose less energy during the conversion process.That means you can generate more energy from the same amount of sunlight. They are also perfect for low light and extreme temperatures.
This technology can reflect the light back into the additional cell layer to increase the overall amount of light absorption. As a result, you get more energy. Moreover, it can also absorb a larger spectrum of lights, making it the most sophisticated solar panel solution. Ultimately, they are relatively cheaper than traditional solar energy panels.
Thin-film solar panels
The main advantage of thin-film solar panels is in their physical construction. As the name suggests, thin-film solar energy panels use thin layers of silicone that require no frame beneath it. That means they have higher flexibility and can be installed quite easily into complex places.
They also come in different sizes, offering more convenience. However, for the extra convenience, you have to give up on a bit of efficiency if you want to use thin-film solar panels for your home solar system.
Comparison between the types of solar energy panels
Solar panel type by performance
When it comes to performance, the highest efficiency can be seen from PERC mono cells. These solar energy panels can offer around 25 percent efficiency in optimal conditions.
The second place goes to regular monocrystalline solar panels with an efficiency rating of around 18 to 22 percent. If you have less space on your roof, then opting for these two options is a great decision.
If you have more roof space that can be covered by the panels, you can opt for the third-highest performing panels, which are polycrystalline panels. They offer an efficiency of approximately 15 to 17 percent, depending on the construction.
The lowest performance can be seen from the thin-film solar panels, with around 12 percent overall efficiency.
Solar Panel types by power capacity
Power capacity is the amount of power that system can offer every second while it is in operation. The monocrystalline solar panels offer the highest power output. Most commercially available units have a power output rating of 350 watts.
In the second place goes to polycrystalline solar energy panels with around 275 watts of power rating in most commercially available units.
Solar Panel types by cost
The cost of solar energy panels depends a lot on the amount of power they can generate. That is why while determining the cost of the panels, they are usually done by cost per watt.
In the case of monocrystalline panels, you will have to pay the highest cost per watt. But for that cost, you get to enjoy more energy efficiency and longevity.
According to Solar reviews, Polycrystalline panels cost 0.05 USD less per watt. As the price gap is significantly low, most homeowners nowadays opt for superior panels.
The lowest cost per watt is offered by the thin-film panels. Although they require significantly more space to generate enough energy to completely power a house, they are extremely cheap. So you can invest in thin-film solar panels if real estate is not an issue.
Other factors to consider when choosing a solar energy panel
In addition to the type of the panels, some other key factors should be taken into consideration while you are shopping for a new solar energy panel.
Although the lighter the panels can absorb, the higher its output will be. We can see anywhere from 0.2 to 0.5 percent decrease in efficiency for every 1°C increase in temperature.
Thin-film panels have to best temperature confidence, which means the loss of power is lower for these types of panels.
Fire rating is another big part of the consideration when you are investing in a solar panel. There are three classes of fire rating called,
Your panels must have the same fire rating or more than the roof it will be installed in
According to the UL 61203 standards, all solar panels are tested for hail impacts. Your panels must have a good hail rating if you install them in an area that goes through medium to heavy hail storms each year.
Most crystalline panels are thicker with a back frame. That is why they have a higher hail rating than average thin-film solar panels.
Although there is no hard and fast rating for a hurricane, The dept of energy has introduced some recommendations for designs that will help the solar panels to withstand hurricanes and severe damages.
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