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

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

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

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

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

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 with blue colour.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

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

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.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels

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

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

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

Concentrated PV Cell

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 the 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?

Keep in mind that both of the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, they 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.

Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels

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?

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.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

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 aluminium 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?

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

Solar Panels

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

Moreover, solar cells themselves are actually black. And these monocrystalline solar panels are available in an extensive and wide range of variety of colours 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 colour 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 colours with respect to their back sheets and frames.

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

How Do Thin-Film Solar Panels Look?

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.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

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 link 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 millimetres thick. It means they are durable as well. You can have this type in blue and black colour 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?

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.

solar panels efficiency ratings

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?

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 vary and totally depend 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 per cent.

Solar Panel Shows Lower Efficiency

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 version.

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 per square foot basis, it 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?

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.

Cutting the Solar 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 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 labour is required to install these thin-film panels.

Hence, their installation job is less labour-intensive. These solar panels are lightweight. Furthermore, they are more manoeuvrable. It is convenient for the installers to carry and install them right onto rooftops. All in all, reduced labour costs and less expensive installation job makes them an appropriate option for you.

Which Solar Panel to Prefer?

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.

Solar Panel

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 the 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 the reason, that 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.

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 guide 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.