Solar Panel Types: What’s the Right Choice for Your Home?
Solar panels are an integral part of your home energy system. The kind of solar panel you use will have a direct impact on your energy efficiency, total installation cost, and performance of the system. So before installation, it’s important to know what are the different types of solar panels, their pros and cons, and which one is the best for your home.
What Is A Solar Panel?
With solar energy gaining momentum in the US and the world, you must have heard a lot about photovoltaic panels or solar panels, even if you don’t have them in your home. Before we dive into more details, let’s first understand what a solar panel is.
A solar panel consists of multiple PV cells, and together, they absorb sunlight and make electricity out of solar energy. When a number of solar panels are installed together, it’s called a solar array.
Types of Solar Panels
Currently, the solar industry uses 3 types of panels for installing a PV system: Monocrystalline panels, Polycrystalline panels, and Thin-film panels. All the solar panels you see around are made of either of these types of panels.
1. Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Made from a single silicon block in wafer format, these panels are known for their high efficiency, durability, and seamless all-weather performance. The individual cells of the panel consist of a pure form of silicon, which maximizes the production of electronic energy from sun rays. These are characterized by black-colored cells. The panels are ideal for roof-mount solar systems in both urban and rural regions.
- Monocrystalline panels are 15% to 24% efficient, which makes them the top performer among all types of solar panels
- They don’t require a lot of space for installation
- With a high lifespan, these panels easily outlast their warranty period
- They generate more electricity, so you’ll purchase less from your local utility grid, and save money
- More economical option in the long run, despite the high initial cost
- They have a high heat tolerance
- The manufacturing process (Czochralski process) for the monocrystalline solar panel is a long and complex one, which makes it more expensive
- The panels are fragile—they can get damaged by tree branches, or if something heavy hits the panel on a stormy day
- In case the panel gets covered by snow, dust, or any other external factors, the output gets hampered
- Lots of silicon waste is generated in the making of these panels, and there’s also a high carbon footprint
2. Polycrystalline Solar Panel
These types of solar panels are made of polycrystalline silicon, a material consisting of multiple fragments of silicon crystal. Characterized by blue photovoltaic cells, these panels are not as highly efficient as mono solar panels, but they have a long shelf life. The panels are ideal for off-grid solar systems located in remote areas, traffic lights, street lights, solar farms, as well as roof-mount systems.
- The manufacturing process is simple, so the panels are not as pricey
- They have a considerably lower carbon footprint (during manufacturing) than monocrystalline panels
- The efficiency rate is 13% to 16%, which is lower than monocrystalline panels
- Need a large space for installation
- The visual appeal is not ideal
- These panels have low heat tolerance
- The lifespan of the panels is less, especially if you live in a hot climate region
3. Thin-Film Solar Panels
The most inexpensive of the lot, these panels are made of thin film PV material placed on top of a substrate, which could be plastic, metal, or glass. When compared with crystalline silicon panels, these are ultra-thin, lightweight, and flexible. The panels are typically used in traffic or street lights, and in large solar power stations.
- The manufacturing process is simple, so the panels are inexpensive
- Thin-film panel is lightweight
- The installation process is quick and hassle-free
- These panels are ideal for boats, RVs, buses, or any other portable modes
- It has a low carbon footprint
- These panels are not widely available
- Efficiency is between 7% to 18%—the lowest of all types
- They have a short lifespan
Which Type of Solar Panels Should You Get & Why?
Speaking from a long-term perspective, monocrystalline solar panels will eventually offset the initial cost with their high efficiency and long shelf life. They work the best for residential projects. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels are economical, durable, and more eco-friendly, but efficiency is not their best suit. As for thin-film panels, they work great when you need to install off-grid solar in remote areas.
Each type has its own pros and cons, so before the installation, make sure to do your research, and speak to the solar company to discuss your requirements, budget, and priorities. They will suggest which panels would work the best for your project.
No matter which type of panels you choose, you are embracing the power of solar energy and reducing the use of fossil fuels. You’re not only taking a step towards making the world better and greener, but you’re also making smart financial decisions for yourself and your family. To know more about solar installation, get in touch with our experts at KR Solar.
Which is the most efficient solar panel?
Monocrystalline solar panels are 15% to 24% efficient. So without a doubt, they are the most efficient among all types of photovoltaic panels.
Which is the least expensive solar panel?
Thin-film solar panels are the least expensive of the lot.
Which solar panel lasts the longest?
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have a high life expectancy. You would usually get a 25-year warranty from the developer, but the panels last way longer than that.
How long does a thin-film solar panel last?
Thin-film solar panels could be the least expensive, but it also has a shorter lifespan. Depending on the circumstances and quality of the panels, they can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years, a lot less than crystalline panels.