Types of Solar Panels Compared

If you are planning on installing solar panels, you have probably noticed that there are a few different types on the market. Their differences are more than just cosmetic—they perform in varying ways. Each kind has different capabilities, energy-efficiency levels, and installation costs.

Our solar installation pros at Solar Bear compare the different types of solar panels so you can make the right choice for your home.

Types of Solar Panels

The four most popular types of solar panels include:

  • Solar shingles
  • Polycrystalline solar panels
  • Monocrystalline solar panels
  • Thin film solar panels

The best solar panel option for your home ultimately depends on your budget, roof space, access to sunlight, your energy needs, and your desired amount of energy efficiency.

Solar Roof Shingles

The newest solar panel option on the market is solar roof shingles. They are the modern answer to a beautiful roof and mimic asphalt shingle roofs in appearance—but with the added benefit of being a solar energy system.

Solar shingles are just as durable as asphalt shingles and protect your roof just as effectively. Each solar shingle can produce anywhere from 13-67 watts of solar energy, but keep in mind, the cost to install solar shingles will be more than the installation of asphalt shingles.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Solar panels are made of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline cells. Typical rooftop solar panels have up to 40 solar cells. Ultimately, the solar panel type that you choose will determine the cost and amount of roof space that your solar installation will require.

Polycrystalline solar panels were the first to be developed. They are rectangular and are created from melted silicon on a mold. Polycrystalline cells are not as efficient or tolerant to heat as monocrystalline cells and do not generate as much electricity from the sun.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panel cells are made from pure silicon. They are round which helps them achieve higher efficiency. Further, you will need fewer of them to generate power.

They are more expensive to purchase and install than their polycrystalline counterparts, but they tend to last longer which is a bonus.

Thin Film Solar Panels

Thin film solar panels are newer and are less frequently used for home installations, though they are growing in popularity.

These panels get their name from how they are produced. Layers of a semiconductor material such as silicon, cadmium telluride, gallium selenide, and copper indium are rolled out as a film. They tend to be less efficient than crystalline solar panel options and require more roof space. But thin-film panels are more flexible and inexpensive compared to crystalline solar cells and can be manufactured into shingles.

Choosing Solar Panels

When you get ready to buy solar panels for a residential install, you will want to consider how the above types of solar panels perform in terms of aesthetics, efficiency, and cost.


First, consider how you want your solar panels to look.

  • Solar shingles take the place of shingles on your roof and mimic the look of asphalt shingles
  • Monocrystalline solar panels are typically arranged in neat rows and columns of sleek black cells.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels have rows of cells and a bluish hue.
  • Thin-film solar panels can be either blue or black. They are slimmer and have a lower profile, but you must install more of them to match the power output of other kinds of solar panels.


Solar panels vary in their energy efficiency.

  • Solar shingles are quite efficient and can reach around 20% efficiency. This means that 20% of the sunlight is being converted into usable energy.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels produce the most power and have high-efficiency ratings of 20%
  • Polycrystalline solar panels are a bit less efficient at around 15-17%
  • Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient type somewhere between 5-11%


Last, the cost is an important factor to consider when installing solar power.

  • Solar shingles can be quite expensive since you are ultimately covering your entire roof with solar shingles. Prices can range from $60,000-$75,000.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels are challenging to manufacture and tend to be in the more expensive range.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels are generally affordable since they can be assembled with small fragments of silicon.
  • Thin-film solar panels vary in cost depending on the material used to make them, but they are cheaper than the other solar options.

Install Solar with Solar Bear

If you are unsure of which solar panels will best fit your needs, call Solar Bear! Our experienced solar technicians can inspect your home and help determine what kind of solar panels are best for your home and energy needs.

Florida is a great place to go solar and Solar Bear is the leading solar panel installation company across the Sunshine State!

Ready to get started? Call Solar Bear today—407-904-7585!