An advertisement from Forme Solar featuring a person installing a solar panel, with text asking, "What types of solar panels should I buy?
An advertisement from Forme Solar featuring a person installing a solar panel, with text asking, "What types of solar panels should I buy?

What Type of Solar Panels Should I Buy?

When you're considering installing solar panels on your home, you normally consider factors such as the cost, aesthetics, and energy efficiency. While these are all significant considerations, there is a factor in solar panels that affects all three: the type of solar panels you will choose.

Most solar panels for homes today fall into one of three categories: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin-film solar panels. Each offers varied capacities, energy efficiency levels, and overall installation prices.

Do you want to know which types of solar panels are ideal for you? The ideal solar panel option for your home will be determined by your budget and the cost of installing solar energy, roof space, access to sunlight, and your desired energy efficiency.

Let's take a look at the different types of panels and what you need to know to be a smart solar energy buyer

Three Types of Solar Panels

1. Monocrystalline

Today, monocrystalline solar panels are the most often utilized solar panels in rooftop solar panel installations. These monocrystalline solar panels are made from around 40 monocrystalline solar cells and because they are made of more pure silicon, these solar cells have greater efficiency.

You'll notice that their coloration is consistent. Moreover, their cylindrical shapes help these solar cells to achieve higher efficiency. It is critical to determine your solar sun number score when deciding between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panel systems. This will help you to determine how much potential your system has based on your location and the amount of sunshine it receives.

A silicon crystal is put in a vat of molten silicon during the production process (known as the Czochralski technique). The crystal is then carefully drawn out of the vat, enabling the molten silicon to create a solid crystal shell around it known as an ingot. After that, the ingot is thinly cut into silicon wafers. The wafer is converted into a cell, and the cells are then connected to make a solar panel.

Because of the way sunlight interacts with pure silicon, monocrystalline solar cells look black. While the cells are black, the back sheets and frames come in a range of colors and styles. The monocrystalline cells have a square shape with the corners removed, resulting in tiny gaps between the cells.

However, monocrystalline cells are more expensive to produce than polycrystalline solar panels. As a result, they are more expensive to buy. They, on the other hand, tend to last longer and typically come with lengthy warranties. Solar panels of both sorts can be put on your roof or by placing solar panel mounts in a specific location of your property.

2. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline panels, also known as "multi-crystalline panels," are popular among homeowners wishing to install solar panels on a budget. Polycrystalline panels, like monocrystalline panels, are built of silicon solar cells. However, the cooling process is different, resulting in the formation of numerous crystals rather than just one. Polycrystalline panels, which are often used in residential homes typically comprise 60 solar cells.

Because of the way sunlight reflects off the crystals, polycrystalline cells look blue. Sunlight reflects differently off silicon pieces than it does from a clean silicon cell. The rear frames and frames are usually silver with polycrystalline, however, this might vary. The cell is square in form, and there are no gaps between the cell's corners.

Polycrystalline is also less efficient than monocrystalline, producing roughly 250 watts instead of 300-plus. Physically, they look similar to their monocrystalline counterparts and endure almost as long (warranties are in the 25-year range, but vary by brand).

3. Thin-Film Solar Panels

You've probably heard of thin-film solar panels. They are a newer type of solar panel and are less frequently used for homes but mostly used in large-scale utility and industrial solar installations because of their lower efficiency ratings.

Unlike monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, thin-film panels are made from a variety of materials. The most common form of a thin-film solar panel is made from Cadmium telluride (CdTe).

Manufacturers create this sort of thin-film panel by sandwiching a layer of CdTe between transparent conducting layers that help capture sunlight. A glass layer is also present on the top of this sort of thin-film technology for protection.

Amorphous silicon (a-Si) may also be used to make thin-film solar panels since its composition is similar to monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Although these thin-film panels use silicon in their composition, they are not composed of solid silicon wafers. Rather, they are made of non-crystalline silicon that has been put on top of glass, plastic, or metal.

Unfortunately, amorphous panels do not last longer than the other types of solar panels— According to the American Solar Energy Society, they estimated that they will last between 10 and 20 years. Furthermore, they are only about 7% efficient.

In terms of advantages, they are less expensive to manufacture and install than other types of solar panels.

What type of panel is best for your installation?

As you're determining what type of solar panel you want to use for your system, much of your decision will be based on the specifics of your property and situation. Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels have advantages and disadvantages, and the solution you should pursue depends on your property and your solar project goals.

Property owners with plenty of solar panel space might save money upfront by installing lower efficiency, lower-cost polycrystalline panels. If you have limited room available and are looking to help you save money on your power bill, installing a monocrystalline solar panel is best for you.

In terms of thin-film panels, this sort of solar panel is most commonly used if you're installing it on a huge, commercial roof that can't support the added weight of standard solar equipment. Because they have a greater surface area to work with, these roofs can also afford the lower efficiency of thin-film panels. Furthermore, thin-film panels can be a good choice for portable solar systems, such as those seen on RVs or boats.

Start your solar journey today with Forme Solar

If you’re not sure which of the types of solar panels will work best for your project or you want some assistance in understanding solar panel technology, our experts at forme solar can assist you in determining the right panels for your unique project.