The Major Types of Solar PanelsZainsaeed
There are three types of solar panels that are most often used in commercial or residential installations: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Here is a brief explanation of each, as well as for what applications they are most useful:
Monocrystalline: Best for Efficiency
Monocrystalline solar panels are often touted as the most efficient option and are therefore best when installed for larger energy systems in commercial and residential properties. However, panel sizes do vary; therefore, monocrystalline can be used in smaller installations as well.
- Made out of silicon with a high purity rating, boosting their efficiency to 15% to 22%
- Don’t require as much space as polycrystalline and thin-film panels
- Monocrystalline panels can last upwards of 25 years due to the stable and inert properties of the silicon
Polycrystalline: Best for Cost
Like the name suggests, polycrystalline solar panels are constructed from multiple pure silicon crystals that are melted together. More crystals aren’t always better, though. Polycrystalline panels are actually less efficient than their monocrystalline counterparts. They are, however, made in a variety of power settings ranging from 5W to 250W and higher, making them a good choice for both small and large-scale installations.
- Process to create them is simpler, so they are less expensive than monocrystalline
- Less waste after the melting process, making them better for the environment
- Durable and long-lasting just like monocrystalline solar panels, so they are a good choice for budget-minded homeowners
Thin-Film: Best for Powering Transportation
Though they are lightweight and easy to move, thin-film PV cells—which are not made of silicon—are the least efficient type of solar panel. Use them only for installation that won’t need to produce too much power; flexibility and portability are the two top factors with these.
- Easier and less expensive to produce
- Excellent for solar transportation applications, such as panels that are installed on bus rooftops and refrigeration for cold-storage trucks