Currently, we have three (3) major types of solar panels. These are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. As with any equipment, they have their most suitable applications as each of them have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the customers specific needs and available property, someone can choose one over the other.
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- Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- This type of solar panel is made of monocrystalline silicon in its purest form. Monocrystalline panels boast their high efficiency rates (~20%), high power outputs, high life-time values and high space efficiencies. These good features also mean higher cost.
- One can determine a monocrystalline panel with its uniform dark appearance and rounded edges.
- Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- Polycrystalline solar panels are made by melting raw silicon. This type usually has lower price as the process to produce is faster and cheaper. They have low efficiencies (~15%), lower space efficiencies, and relatively shorter life span as they are affected by high temperatures.
- One can determine a polycrystalline panel with its surface with squares with blue speckles.
- Thin-film solar panels are mainly advantageous with its relatively low cost and portable and flexible surface. This opens up a lot of opportunities for alternative applications. It is cheaper due to its ease and less material needed for production and low efficiency (~7-10%). This type takes a lot of space and is practically not suitable for residential installations.
All of the types have their ratings which are the power output or wattage. One may see in the specifications of the solar panels are numbers like 100W or 245W. Solar panels connected in parallel add up their power output, so as if one needs to install a 300W system, three (3) 100W panels shall be used.