June 29 2021 0Comment
Solar Panel Types

Different types of solar panels

When searching to save money by maximizing the energy efficiency of your home, installing solar panels is a great idea. Having been used in big companies for years now, small businesses are finding themselves warming up to solar panels. This is because you can save quite a bit of money in the long haul, even though solar panels and their installation can be quite costly. How much return you see on your investment all depends on factors like whether your home is exposed to ample sun year-round. You should start by understanding that there are different types of solar panels.

Solar panels and their types 

There is more than one type of solar panel. There were three from the time solar panels came on the scene until recently when they started blending technologies to come up with better solar panels. Here are the different types of solar panels.

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Monocrystalline silicon, also known as single-crystalline silicon (sc-Si), makes up these solar panels. These can be readily recognized by an even coloring and uniformity on the outside, which indicates that the silicon’s purity is of a high standard. 

A monocrystalline silicon panel starts with an ingot (monocrystalline silicon, of grain size greater than 10 centimeters, that has been molten and cast into a sheet). The rest is done using the Czochralski method. Using this method, the ingot is surrounded by hard crystal. The crystal cuts four corners out of the ingot, leaving the diamonds in between.

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Polycrystalline silicon (pc-Si), also called polysilicon, is essentially the same thing as multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si), but polysilicon consists of very small crystals, of grain size under 1 millimeter, called crystallites. They give off a metal-flake effect. Multi-crystalline, on the other hand, consists of crystals larger than 1 millimeter but smaller than 10 centimeters.

These silicones consist of a meld of more than one fragment of silicon, cutting down on the quality of purity. Raw silicon is melted, molded into a square, cooled, then, cut into wafers. The Czochralski method is not used. Also, these panels have a speckled-blue finish. Because they are not a pure single-crystalline silicon, they are said to be less efficient but less expensive to produce. 

Thin-Film Solar Cells

Thin-film solar cells are formed by placing very thin layers of “thin film”, of a thickness of only nanometers to no more than micrometers, called photovoltaic material on a glass, plastic, or metal “substrate” (a surface which supports the thin-film solar cells). Various types of thin-film solar cells fall into categories determined by which photovoltaic material is placed onto the substrate. They are amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS), and organic photovoltaic cells (OPC). 

The thin-film solar cells are known to be quite a bit less efficient than their counterparts, but they are much cheaper. They also perform well in low-light (cloudy type) situations. They have a shorter lifespan than crystalline solar panels. Not a feasible choice for most homes because of the “space to efficiency” ratio, these thin-film solar cells seem to be slowly phasing themselves out. 

PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) Panels)

PERC solar panels are a newer technology. They are like a monocrystalline cell, except that there is a passivation layer added to the rear surface. It increases the amount of solar “power” that is absorbed, tends to let the electrons in the system move freely, and allows reflection of greater wavelengths of light. PERC panels collect more energy with less space and fuss, so they are perfect for small spaces. Plus, they are only barely more expensive.

Which type of solar panel is best 

Now, you know about the different types of solar panels and have some idea what is what, and at this point, you are wondering — Which one is the best? There are several things to take into consideration. 

You can use mapping services with the perfect tools to aid you in determining some things you’ll need to know. You must consider whether your home is exposed to enough direct sunlight to power your home, and how soon your neighbor’s tree shade will block your panels? When will you need a new roof, and should you get it now? You can get the answers to these and other pertinent questions.

Do you have more questions about solar panels? We can help. Email us, or give us a call now, and arrange a free onsite quote.