Types of Solar Panels Compared

At Solar Bear Tampa, we know that making the switch to powering your home with solar can be tough. There’s a lot to learn about solar panels, power systems, and battery storage, not to mention all the tax and installation processes involved. That’s why we’ve written about many of these things on this blog. Today, we hope to take some of the mystery out of the difference between types of solar panels, so that you can make the best choice for your home solar power arrangement as a consumer. 

Here are the different types of solar panels compared. 

Monocrystalline solar panels

The most efficient and long-lasting of the solar panel types is the monocrystalline solar panel. Unfortunately, because these solar panels are made out of a single silicon crystal that has been divided into several different segments, they are often rather expensive and hard to come by. If you can spring for the monocrystalline solar panels, budget-wise, it’s a good idea, since each one of these dark black panels can generate up to 300 watts of power, and since they have an efficiency rate of 20%, high for solar panels in general. However, there is often a lot of silicon crystal wasted in their production (sometimes up to 50%), which makes them somewhat wasteful and costly. While monocrystalline solar panels work less efficiently in heat, they hold up better in hail, thanks to their thicker construction. 

Polycrystalline solar panels

Like monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels are made from silicon crystals, only these are built from multiple, smaller crystals instead of a single, large crystal. This makes polycrystalline solar panels much easier to manufacture, although they aren’t as efficient and cannot store as much power as monocrystalline panels can. They also have a lower heat tolerance because the crystals have been melted and poured into square molds to mimic the appearance of full crystals. Since the crystals used in these panels are thick, like the panels used in monocrystalline solar panels, they are also a good choice for environments with high wind and hail. 

PERC solar panels

Another type of solar panel is the passivated emitter and rear cell panel, or PERC. PERC panels differ from crystalline solar panels in the method of their construction—an extra layer is added into the solar cells so that the light absorbed by the cell is reflected and then absorbed again. These kinds of solar panels are more efficient even than monocrystalline solar panels for this reason and are considered to be an advance in solar panel technology. The most efficient of the solar panel types, PERC panels can also take up less space thanks to the extra work each cell does. Because of the method of their production, they can be more expensive, but compared to the expense of monocrystalline panels, they are not too much more costly, and often the difference in price pays for itself. 

Thin-film solar panels

The last type of solar panels are called “thin-film” panels, because their silicon layers are much thinner than those of typical crystalline panels. Thin film panels can be one of three types: Cadmium telluride, amorphous silicon, copper indium gallium selenide. There is not much difference between the three types of thin film panels, but if you need a more extensive explainer, you can contact the friendly solar experts at Solar Bear Tampa today.  

The thinness of these panels cost them a lot in terms of efficiency, but it does make them more heat resistant in drier climates. Also, because of the smaller amount of materials used, these kinds of panels are typically the cheapest on the market. 

For a more thorough discussion of the differences in types of solar panels, or for a consultation about which type of solar panels are best for your home, call Solar Bear Tampa today.