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Last updated: 25 April 2018

Solar Panels: Which Is the Best Type?

Learn How the Types of Solar Panels Differ from Each Other

Solar panels (photovoltaics or PV panels) are made of silicon. The silicon used to build the panels takes variety of forms, but the main difference is its purity. The purity of the silicon is directly correlated with the efficiency of the panels to convert solar energy into electricity. Although panel efficiency is greater when the purity of the silicon increases, the price of these panels rises too.

Efficiency is an important factor when choosing solar panels, but there are also some other aspects to take into account to determine which type of solar panel will be the best fit for your needs. After going into the details of the three different types of panels available for domestic use, we will present some issues to consider when choosing solar panels.

Three Types of Solar Panels

The three types of panels differ in price, materials and efficiency.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

The solar cells in these panels are made of monocrystalline silicon (mono - Si), which is of extremely high purity. Cells are made of silicone blocks with cylindrical shape. The four sides of the cells are cut in order to increase the effectiveness and to be less expensive to produce.

This is the most effective type of solar panel but is also the most expensive one. They are suitable if you have a limited space where you can install the panels or if the price is not an issue to your budget. With these panels you will get the most electricity output per panels used.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline (P- si) cells contain less silicon which makes the panels a little bit less efficient, but also less expensive, than monocrystalline solar panels.They are also called multi-silicon or ribbon panels. Since they are less efficient, you will need to install a larger number of panels to generate the electricity required to meet your consumption needs. Polycrystalline panels are the most commonly used type since they offer a good balance between efficiency and price.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

These panels are made of thin, light, photovoltaic material. Mass production is easy and as a result they are the least expensive type. Having said that, they are the least efficient panels and in order to generate the needed electricity, you need to cover a large area with panels.

They don’t have an aluminium frame around them which helps with the cleaning (since less dirt accumulates over time). They are usually not very useful for residential applications since you will require a lot of space. However, if space is not an issue, thin- film solar panels are still a viable option to meet some of your energy needs.

Having mentioned the three main types of panels available for domestic purposes, here we give you a checklist to consider before going solar.

What Is Your Budget?

Different types of solar panels vary in price. Do you want to get the best panel available or you have price constraints? The three main types differ in price and efficiency. Monocrystalline panels are costly but at the same time most effective, so you will be needing less of them.

Thin- film solar panels, on the other hand, are less expensive but are also less efficient and you will need more of them. Regardless of which type you choose, all things equal, price usually means quality. Quality solar panels will last you longer and generate power for more time.

Read more: What Is the Instalation Cost of Solar Panels?

Is Solar Going to Be the Only Power Source in Your Household?

Do you want to power your house exclusively with solar energy or will you be happy with just trimming down some of the energy bill? The more power you want, the more panels you will need to generate the required electricity. Which type of solar panel is best for your needs comes to the answer of the question underneath.

How Much Space Do You Have Available for the Solar Panels?

The larger the area that the solar panels cover, the more sunlight they can harness. If you have a large area available where you can install solar panels, you could buy less expensive types - polycrystalline or thin film panels. Although they are less efficient, they will still generate enough energy to cover your needs.

If you only have small space available, you would be better off with monocrystalline solar panels. They are most effective type and you will need less panels to meet your energy needs. Remember that this is the most expensive type.

Ream more: 7 Benefits of Using Solar Energy