The Three Top Types of Solar
Most people aren’t aware, but not all solar panels are created equal. Names like polycrystalline or thin film, may not ring any bells, but there are clear differences between the types of solar panels and which jobs they are good for. We are going to look at which ones are the best solar panels for your needs. We will cover the three top types, as well as their most common uses.
Polycrystalline Solar Cells
The typically blue spotted solar cells you see are the of the polycrystalline variety. This type is slightly cheaper to produce – they are simpler to create, and there is less silicone wasted in their construction. Raw silicone is poured into a square mold and then cut. However, the overall quality of the silicone is usually less. This change in quality typically leads to polycrystalline cells having a slightly less efficient output when compared to monocrystalline; they must usually be larger in order to produce the same amount of energy. They also have less overall heat tolerance, meaning their lifespan in warmer climates may be reduced from their counterparts. That said, compared to many of the other solar types, polycrystalline remain very popular due to their cost efficiency
String Ribbon Solar Cells are a subset of polycrystalline panels since they use the same silicone – the creation procedure, however, is entirely different. Wires are pulled through molten silicon to create thin strips which are then layered together. This process uses much less silicone but typically creates a panel on the lower end of the polycrystalline efficiency bracket. Though cheaper, they tend to require the largest surface area to produce an equivalent amount of power.
Monocrystalline Solar Cells
Monocrystalline solar cells are on the more expensive end of photovoltaics (method for generating electric power by using solar cells) to produce, but give out a slightly more efficient energy output in the end. They also tend to have slightly longer lifespans. Their higher efficiency also makes them suitable for smaller surface areas.
You can differentiate monocrystalline pretty easily from polycrystalline by looking at the panel. Polycrystalline will have perfectly rectangular pieces of silicon; monocrystalline will have a square shape with rounded edges.
Thin-Film Solar Cells
Thin film cells are typically thin layers of photovoltaic materials placed over a surface. They can be made from different materials and may vary in their overall energy output. This is a type that is growing both in popularity and technological advancement. Their nature allows them to be more easily mass produced and generally allows them to be purchased for less. If space is not an issue, they are a popular choice.
While it can be hard to determine what the best solar panels for your needs are, there is no shortage of options. While we covered the more popular types, remember there are still others such as Amorphous Silicon solar cells and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar cells which may also be worth looking into.