What Are the 3 Types of Solar Panels?
There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. The type of panel you choose depends on the size and purpose of your solar power system and the roof space available at your property. It’s also important to consider the environmental impact of each panel as old solar panels can contain toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium, which need to be disposed of properly.
Monocrystalline solar panels use a single silicon crystal which is cut into wafers to create the individual cells of the panel. The panels are able to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently than polycrystalline solar panels because the silicon molecules are more aligned. However, the manufacturing process required to produce monocrystalline silicon is energy-intensive and results in a high price tag. Additionally, the panel’s efficiency declines when they are covered in snow, dirt or leaves and when operating at very high temperatures.
Polycrystalline solar panels are a more cost-effective option than monocrystalline silicon because they use fragments of silicon rather than a pure crystal. This allows for a much more simplified cell manufacturing process and reduces the cost for manufacturers and end-users. Polycrystalline panels are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels but still offer good performance in most circumstances.
A common misconception is that solar panels only work in full sunshine, but this is not true. Solar panels can generate energy even when the weather is cloudy, rainy or overcast, and this energy can be stored in batteries so that it can be used at any time of day or night.
Thin-film solar panels are a relatively new type of solar panel that uses light-absorbing layers of semiconductor material to generate electricity. These materials can be a variety of things including cadmium telluride, amorphous silicon and copper indium gallium selenide and are placed between thin sheets of conductive material with a layer of glass on top for protection. This allows for the creation of a solar panel that is much more flexible than the traditional mono and polycrystalline panels, making it suitable for more diverse applications.
Thin-film solar panels are also far more environmentally friendly than their counterparts, and they can have a much sleeker appearance that is much more in keeping with the aesthetic of modern buildings. They are often a dark grey or black color and can be a great option for homeowners who don’t want their solar panels to stand out on their roofs.