Solar energy for residential homes has become more accessible and affordable for homeowners in recent years. A lot of this is due to advancements in technology, but it’s also due to the tax credits that the favorable federal government is offering.
If you’re in the market for solar panels, it pays to research the types of solar panels available today. After all, you are making an investment that you will have to deal with years down the line. Making the right choice for your particular situation is crucial!
In this guide, we will walk you through some of the most popular solar panel options you can opt for today. Read on to learn which solar panels will suit your needs best.
What Are the Best Solar Panels Today?
If you’re in the market for home solar panels, there are a few solar panel options to consider. The most popular choices include:
- Polycrystalline solar panels
- Monocrystalline solar panels
- Passivated emitter and rear cell/contact solar panels
- Thin-film solar panels
The main difference between these panel types is that the cells have different characteristics and functionality. Let’s explore each option in more detail:
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Manufacturers make polycrystalline solar panels from silicon crystals. They manufacture them by melting silicon fragments and pouring them into a square mold. When the material cools they slice it into wafers where the manufacturers can then construct a solar panel.
Since there are multiple crystals in these panel types, you may also hear people call them multi-crystalline solar panels. One thing to take note of with these panels is they are less efficient than the monocrystalline option. This is due to the multiple crystals they use to make polycrystalline panels, which means there is less space for electrons to move about.
You can identify these panels by their blue hue and square shape. The advantage of getting these panels is they are one of the most affordable options on the market right now. So if you are not so bothered about ultra-efficiency, polycrystalline solar panels might be the best choice for you.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Manufacturers create monocrystalline solar panels with one silicon crystal alone. They slice the crystal into wafers and then place them onto panels to make cells.
They have a dark blue or black hue and manufacturers cut them into octagonal shapes. What’s interesting about these cells is that half of the cell can function while the other cell can’t.
For example, there might be a time in the day when part of your monocrystalline panel has a shadow over it. This won’t be a problem for the panel’s energy production as the other half will continue working. People call this half-cut cell technology.
Overall, these panels are super efficient at energy production and have excellent heat resistance, meaning they’re great for people who live in hot climates. One downside is that these panels can be pricey.
Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell Solar Panels
Passive emitter and rear cell or rear contact (PERC) solar panels are essentially an advanced monocrystalline design in most cases. The general improvement is they are more efficient.
They are more efficient because they have another layer that manufacturers add to the back of the panels. That layer relays back any sunlight that the first layer misses for another chance to absorb the light. This is why these panels are so efficient!
Thin-Film Solar Panels
Manufacturers make these panels by using different photovoltaic substances. They can add Amorphous silicon as one of the substances. They can also use cadmium telluride or a copper indium gallium selenide mix.
The manufacturer takes one of these substances and puts it onto a solid surface. The surface can either be metal, plastic, or glass. These panels are very lightweight and so people use them for applications that can’t handle so much weight.
The substance with the lowest carbon footprint that manufacturers make of this type of panel is cadmium telluride. Yet, there is an issue with the toxicity of this substance, meaning it may be hard to recycle.
The most efficient thin-film solar panels use the copper indium gallium selenide mix. You can shorten the name of these panels to CIGS solar panels.
In general, thin-film solar panels are the cheapest and easiest to install. They are the least efficient, though, out of all the panels we’ve looked at. If you have a large rooftop, thin-film panels are a good choice.
Solar Panel Installation
There are a few things to think about when installing solar panels. You should first determine what power levels you will require for your home or business.
One of the best ways to determine this is to get an energy auditor into your home to check everything out and give you advice. We recommend this solar installation company.
Such a company will also help you where the best sunlight exposure is on your roof. Remember, you have to consider that the sun shifts its position throughout the year, making things a little more complicated than you might expect.
Once you’ve figured out your energy needs and the best area on your roof for sunlight exposure, you can then think about where to place your panels. A professional technician is the best person to decide this.
Types of Solar Panels Explained
You now know all about the common types of solar panels on the market today. They have their benefits and pitfalls, so get as much advice as you can from a professional when choosing the right panels for your home or business.
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