4 Most Popular Types of Solar Panels Explained – What Are Your Options?

Let us talk and discuss in detail about the types and range of varieties possessed by solar panels.

Here we will talk about 4 most popular and widely used solar panel types. Have a look at their details. You can consider any of these options for sure.

One needs to know that earth receives 1,366 watts of the direct amount of solar radiation on a per square meter basis, it is true.

Energy collected from the sun, it is marked and termed as a reliable and sustainable energy source. It is for this reason that the trend of solar panel installation, it is growing every single day.

There are varied kinds of solar panels. Furthermore, not all solar panels look and work the same. Their design is different. Their operations and functioning are different.

Moreover, they come with various characteristics. So, let us get enter into the world of solar panels and understand them better.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels:Monocrystalline Solar Panels

First one, we have these Monocrystalline Solar Panels. They are also called and termed Mono-SI. They are made by using monocrystalline silicon.

Regarding their characteristic look, you may have seen that they are available in dark colors.

Most importantly, these solar panels have rounded edges. It is because of their silicon’s purity that they work with efficiency. In other words, their efficiency and working rate can reach up to 20%. Apart from that, they are more durable.

They tolerate high temperatures. These solar panels give out a high power output. Their single drawback is that they are more expensive.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels:Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Then we have these Polycrystalline Solar Panels. They are known as p-Si too. Most noteworthy, these kinds of solar panels offer and give a distinctive look.

They have squares and also uncut angles. They are induced in blue color.

Regarding their production process, it is less time-consuming and not much hectic. The overall production process is comparatively cheaper.

Giving you a rough idea, these solar panels are made and manufactured by melting raw silicon.

However, they show a lower efficiency rate. It is about 15%. Upon exposing them to hot and extreme temperatures, they lose their durability.

We can say that there is not much difference between these monocrystalline panels and Polycrystalline Solar Panels.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels:Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels

Next, we have Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels. These are thin-film solar panels and named as A-SI.

In addition, these panels are composed of thin-film solar cells. It is in these smaller solar power systems that these panels are used and installed.

Besides, silicon or cadmium, or copper is used in the making process of it.

Their best part is that they are easy to make and produce. For some of the individuals, they are a  cheaper option.

They require and need less material for their making and production. Beyond, they are flexible and affordable. You will not find any difficulty while applying and installing this solar panel.

It is convenient to apply and show a decreased amount of sensitivity towards extreme and high temperatures. They make use of triple-layered technology.

And this induction of technology is highly suitable and appropriate among the thin film variety. Their drawback is that they have a shorter lifespan and shorter warranty time.

Concentrated PV Cell:Concentrated PV Cell

Lastly, here comes Concentrated PV Cell solar panels. Most importantly, they are of a multi-junction type.

They show an efficiency rate and an output of 41%. It is because of their curved mirror surfaces that they are extremely efficient.

These solar panels do have lenses as well as cooling systems. A large number of individuals have ranked and rated them as the most efficient and best of all solar panels because they show a high percentage of running power and efficiency. 

The concerning point is that they can only show maximum efficiency until and unless they face the sun exactly at a specific angle. You can use a solar tracker for this job that specifically follows the sun.

Materials Used In Different Solar Panels:

As solar panels are made to generate and produce electricity, that is why their solar cells are made by using a semiconducting material. This material generally converts solar light into electricity.

Furthermore, we have seen that the most common material that is used in the form of a semiconductor is silicon.

How Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels are Made?Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Keep in mind that both of the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are composed of solar cells.

These cells are made with the use of silicon wafers. If you plan to build a monocrystalline panel or polycrystalline panel, then you have to assemble the wafers right into rows and columns.

Create and make a rectangle of these wafers. You can then cover them with the use of a glass sheet, and after that, you can frame them together. Both of these solar panels, their cells are manufactured from silicon.

However, these panels vary in the composition aspect of the silicon. It is seen that Monocrystalline solar cells, they are usually cut from a single and also pure crystal of silicon.

But these polycrystalline solar cells are induced and injected fragments and pieces of silicon crystals. These fragments are melted together before they are cut into wafers.

How Thin-Film Solar Panels are Made?Thin-Film Solar Panels

These thin-film panels are made and manufactured by using an extensive variety of materials. You can either manufacture them by using cadmium telluride (CdTe).

This material is the most prevalent and common type of material utilized in the making of a thin-film solar panel.

What manufacturers do is that they keep and place a thin layer of CdTe right in between transparent conducting layers. These layers capture sunlight. This solar panel has a glass layer on the top side of it for security and protection.

In addition, you can make these thin-film solar panels by using and embossing amorphous silicon (a-Si).

This construction material is similar in terms of the composition like being used in the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. As thin-film panels make use of silicon and they do not need solid silicon wafers.

You may have heard the name of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) solar panels. They are termed as a popular and commonly used type of thin-film technology.

It is seen that CIGS panels are composed of four elements. And these elements are placed and induced between two conductive layers. Moreover, these conductive layers can be made of glass, plastic. Or they can be made of aluminum or steel.

In this subjected solar panel type, electrodes are placed and embossed right on the front and also at the backside of the material. This way, these panels can capture a maximum amount of electrical currents.

How Solar Panels Differ In Terms of their Looks and Shapes?Solar Panels

All the above-mentioned types of solar panels, they differ in their looks, designs and shapes.

As you have seen differences in terms of their materials and production phase, the same way, you will see differences and variations in their appearance.

The Appearance of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Talking about monocrystalline solar panels, they have black cells. You might be wondering why this solar panel has black cells, we will tell you.

It is their overall interaction process between light and pure silicon crystal that makes these solar cells black in color.

Moreover, solar cells themselves are actually black. And these monocrystalline solar panels are available in an extensive and wide range of variety of colors specifically for their back sheets and frames.

The back sheet side of such solar panels are black, silver or it can be white. And the metal frames are made and designed in black or silver color shades.

Look of Polycrystalline Solar Panels

These polycrystalline solar cells have and consist of a bluish hue. This hue comes because of the light that is reflecting off the silicon pieces and fragments present in the solar cells.

These panels consist of different colors with respect to their back sheets and frames.

Their frames are of silver color. And their back sheets are commonly made in silver or white color.

How Do Thin-Film Solar Panels Look?Thin-Film Solar Panels

These thin-film solar cells possess an aesthetic factor in them. This is one of their prominent distinguishing and differentiating factors.

In addition, these panels are extremely thin. They have a low-profile. You can say that they are slimmer as compared to other panel types.

The solar cells present and embedded within these panels, they are roughly and approximately 350 times thinner than that of the crystalline wafers that are installed and induced in monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

You can prefer to go for adhesive kind of thin-film solar panels. This kind of panel connects and links itself as close as possible right the surface of a roof.

A few of the thin-film panels consist of frames that are all up to 50 millimeters thick. It means they are durable as well. You can have this type in blue and black color hues.

The Trend of Using Bifacial Solar Panels

Have you ever heard about these bifacial solar panels! You may consider this option for sure.

Most noteworthy, these bifacial solar panels have the potential to capture sunlight. It is from the front side and backside of the solar panel that they trap and capture sunlight.

These panels manage to produce and to generate more electricity than that of comparably sized and traditional looking solar panels. They have a transparent looking back sheet. In this way, all of the sunlight amounts will be able to go and pass through the solar panel.

This back sheet reflects off the solar panel ground surface. It is with the help of monocrystalline solar cells that they are made of! If you want to buy polycrystalline bifacial solar panels, then they do exist as well.

How Solar Panels Differ Regarding their Efficiency Ratings?solar panels efficiency ratings

No matter, you are buying whatever kind of solar panel, they vary in terms of their efficiency rating as well as power rating. Starting our discussion with these monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels!

We have seen that of all important and crucial panel types, these monocrystalline panels possess the greatest and highest efficiency. They show immense power capacity.

They often reach the scale of efficiencies higher than that of 20 per cent. And talking about polycrystalline solar panels, their scale and level of efficiencies fall in between 15 to 17 per cent.

One can say that monocrystalline solar panels generate more amount of power because they are perfect and ideal in showing efficiency.

They are designed and made in higher wattage modules. These days, a few of the monocrystalline solar panels are installed with more than 300 watts of power range capacity.

Some of the models are even reaching and meeting the scale of more than 350 W. But these polycrystalline solar panels have lower wattages. Furthermore, both of these types are not of the same and exact size.

Some of the solar panels, they come and infused with 60 silicon cells each. And they are further surrounded by 72 or 96 cell variants. This size range is suitable for large-scale installations.

Which Solar Panel Shows Lower Efficiency?Solar Panel Shows Lower Efficiency

Thin-film solar panels show and deliver lower efficiency. Moreover, they have lower power capacities than that of monocrystalline or polycrystalline panel varieties.

All in all, this aspect of the efficiency varies and totally depends on the kind of material used in the making of a solar panel. On an average basis, thin-film solar panel efficiencies lie and reside closer to 11 percent.

These panels do not come and available in a uniform size range. Likewise, we have these monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels that do come and made in standardized 60 and 72 and also 96 cell variant versions.

But in the case of thin-film panels, this does not happen.

It depends on the overall physical size of a thin film panel that how much its power capacity will come out to be! The larger the size of a panel, it means more power capacity will be offered by it.

It is generally seen and noticed that the power capacity scale of a solar panel on a per square foot basis, is more in monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels than that in thin-film panels.

How Cutting the Solar Cells In Half Increase Efficiency of Solar Panels?Cutting the Solar Cells

A few of the solar panels have and consist of more than 96 cells. But such kind of models is not pretty much common these days.

Likewise, we have 60, 72 cell panels or 96 cell panels, some solar panels come and accompanied by half-cut cells.

Most probably, these Half-cut solar cells are usually and generally monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cells.

They are specifically cut in half with the help of a laser cutter.

Moreover, upon cutting down these solar cells all and completely in half, you are going to see marginal and extensive improvement in the efficiency and durability of a solar panel.

The Difference In Price among the Varied Types of Solar Panels:

Different types of solar panels come with different price tags. The kind of materials used in them and their manufacturing process decide their cost and price tag.

So, let us all check out that which of the solar panels are budget-friendly and which one is costly:

Monocrystalline Solar Panels are of the High Cost!

The higher cost factor is shown by monocrystalline solar panels. No doubt, they are likely to be the most and extensively expensive option for the individuals. Their manufacturing process makes them not so a pocket-friendly option for the user.

As these solar cells are made by using a single silicon crystal, it is for this reason that manufacturers need to face and absorb this heavy amount of costs.

This whole manufacturing process is known and called with the name of the Czochralski process. Making the phase of these solar panels is energy-intensive. It is for sure labour-intensive.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels are of Medium Cost!

If you want to buy polycrystalline solar panels, then you are going to bear the medium cost. They are neither expensive nor budget-friendly for you. But they are typically and comparatively cheaper than that of monocrystalline solar panels.

The difference in price tag happens because solar cells are generated from sections of silicon fragments instead of using a  single and pure silicon crystal.

This way, the solar cell making and manufacturing process comes out to be simple. Hence, this process makes it easy for users to buy these solar panels.

Thin-Film Solar Panels are Extremely Budget and Pocket-Friendly!

The low-cost factor is attached to thin-film solar panels. Buying this solar panel does not hurt your bank account. Most certainly, CdTe is the common of all and the cheapest kinds of a solar panel to make and manufacture.

On the other hand, CIGS solar panels are more costly and expensive to produce as compared to both of these CdTe or amorphous silicon panels.

You need to understand that the overall cost and price range of a thin-film solar panel, it is lower. Its installation job does not need heavy money as well. No additional labor is required to install these thin-film panels.

Hence, their installation job is less labor-intensive. These solar panels are lightweight. Furthermore, they are more maneuverable.

It is convenient for the installers to carry and install them right onto rooftops. All in all, reduced labor costs and less expensive installation job makes them an appropriate option for you.

Which Solar Panel to Prefer?Solar Panel

You need to consider lots of factors while choosing and selecting a solar panel. Your decision will be based on a large number of factors.

It depends on your budget, property, electricity needs what kind of solar panel you want to purchase.

We can say that Monocrystalline, polycrystalline panels and thin-film panels, each of these types have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

If you have got a lot of space in your home and you are planning to mount a solar panel, then go with the option of lower-cost polycrystalline panels. However, if any home-owner has got a limited space available.

And he is looking for ways to maximize and boost his electric bill savings, then what he can do is to install and set up a high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panel.

For large roofs, it is advised to go with the option of thin-film panels. They are recommended for large scale roof types. For big roofs, avoid going and buying a piece of traditional solar equipment. It will not fulfil your purpose at any cost.

Such traditional solar panels fail to handle the additional weight. Big roofs easily afford the aspect of lower efficiencies. For this reason, thin-film panels are suitable for them. 

This same type is even available in the form of portable solar systems. It means you can utilize them as a useful solution and feel free to install these portable solar systems on RVs or boats.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the 4 main types of solar energy?

There are basically and generally four main types and variations of solar energy. Below you can check out the details about them:

We have this hybrid solar energy. This is a kind of solar energy where you are going to see the combination and amalgamation of clean energy sources.

This includes solar power and wind energy, or it can carry the fusion and injection of geothermal heat pumps. These energy sources are usually and typically incorporated with engines or generators. 

Then we have photovoltaic PV panels. Most importantly, these PV panels are made by using silicon semiconductors right within solar cells.

Moreover, these panels convert sunlight right to electricity. We are now seeing the excessive dominance of PV panels in China.

Moving on, we have for our readers this concentrated photovoltaic panel. This is an upgraded form of electricity that makes use of solar arrays. This type of solar energy has an edge over the rest of the solar panels as it is injected with concentrating lenses and does not pack itself with flat silicon cells. 

Lastly, there is solar thermal energy. This energy type is marked and identified as a highly efficient and durable thermal energy system that manages to produce electricity with the help of huge arrays of mirrors. Besides, these mirrors track as well as reflect sunlight completely onto a solar tower and turn a generator and thus successfully create electricity. 

Which type of solar panel is best?

There are different types of solar panels. But it is recommended to go for monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. They are durable and ideal as compared to other solar panel types. In addition, monocrystalline possess the highest efficiencies and also power capacity.

They can reach efficiencies scales as larger as and higher than 20 percent. Besides, polycrystalline solar panels, their efficiency range fall and lie between 15 to 17 percent.

What are the most efficient solar panels?

When it comes to the most efficient solar panels, then keep in mind that they possess the maximum of all efficiency ratings. Their ratings go as high as 22.8% regarding and concerning their efficiency zone.

High and top-quality solar panels, their efficiency rating falls in between the range from 15% to 17%. You can have solar panels from brands like Sun power and LG. Then we have REC solar brand. It shows a 21.7% rating. Furthermore, we have a CSUN brand and a Solaris brand.

How big is a 1 kW solar panel?

Solar panels are available in different and varied size ranges. There are a few solar panels that consume and take 90% of your rooftop area.

On the other hand, if you have got a 1kw solar panel, then it is going to consume a 10 square meter area of your rooftop. There is also this general rule of thumb that 1 kW capacity solar system, it produces and generates 1600 to 1700 Kwh of electricity on a yearly basis.

Conclusion!

We hope that this extensive and in detail discussion on solar panels have given you enough information. If you have already got a solar panel in your home, then you can share with us which type you preferred and how it working for you!

Moreover. we will share more buying guides regarding which solar panels are suitable for which properties and situations.

Individuals are somehow loving the use of these panels. Their electricity bills have immensely reduced a lot. As these panels run on a Renewable Energy Source, that is why people prefer them. So, to reduce your electricity bills and see low maintenance cost, try this option.

These solar panels offer diverse applications. They are hassle-free to maintain. Lastly, these solar power systems run on clean and pure energy taken and captured from the sun. You will be able to combat and tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

This system reduces and lowers down your collective and overall dependence on the usage of fossil fuels.

If you no longer want to use traditional electricity that is being sourced and taken from fossil fuels like that of coal and natural gas, then try this mode. Stay tuned as more details on solar panels are coming up.