What Type Of Solar Panels Should I Choose
Different types of solar panels meet different types of needs. If you have limited amount of space on your roof, you most likely want to get as much solar energy with as few solar panels as possible. In that case, you want to prioritize high efficiency, which can lead to solar panels that are slightly more expensive. If you on the other hand have plenty of space, you have the opportunity to have more solar panels to a lower price, while you may need to compromise on efficiency.
Contact our experts and we will take a look at your circumstances, to find the best option for you!
Types Of Solar Panels: An Overview
By installing residential solar power, it’s possible for homeowners to dramatically reduce or even eliminate their dependence on traditional utility companies. First things first, however: Before you say goodbye to those monthly electric bills, it’s imperative to make sound choices about your solar investment. And generally, that starts with the panels themselves.
So, what types of solar panels can homeowners choose from? Most of today’s photovoltaic solar panel systems fit into one of these three categories: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Pros And Cons
Polycrystalline solar panels, also sometimes called multicrystalline panels, are essentially the inverse of monocrystalline. They generally have lower efficiency ratings, but they tend to be a lot easier on the wallet.
Although they lack the high efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels, their low cost makes them attractive to many budget-conscious homeowners. If you’re looking to save money on solar panel installation, polycrystalline could be a great choice.
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What Is A Solar Panel
Solar panels are used to collect solar energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.
The typical solar panel is composed of individual solar cells, each of which is made from layers of silicon, boron and phosphorus. The boron layer provides the positive charge, the phosphorus layer provides the negative charge, and the silicon wafer acts as the semiconductor.
When the suns photons strike the surface of the panel, it knocks out electrons from the silicon sandwich and into the electric field generated by the solar cells. This results in a directional current, which is then harnessed into usable power.
The entire process is called the photovoltaic effect, which is why solar panels are also known as photovoltaic panels or PV panels. A typical solar panel contains 60, 72 or 90 individual solar cells.
Lowest Performance: Thin Film
Thin film solar panels have incredibly low efficiency ratings. As recently as a few years ago, thin film efficiencies were in the single digits. Researchers have recently achieved 23.4% efficiency with thin film cell prototypes but thin film panels that are commercially available generally have efficiency in the 1013% range.
In order to meet your energy needs, you would need to install more thin film panels over a large area to produce the same amount of electricity as crystalline silicon solar panels. This is why thin film solar panels dont really make sense for residential installations where space is limited.
Fun fact! Thin film panels have the best temperature coefficient
Despite having lower performance specs in most other categories, thin film panels tend to have the best temperature coefficient, which means as the temperature of a solar panel increases, the panel produces less electricity. The temperature coefficient tells you how much the power output will decrease by for every 1*C over 25*C the panel gets.
The standard temperature coefficient for mono and polycrystalline panels typically falls somewhere between -0.3% and -0.5% per *C. Thin film panels on the other hand, are around -0.2% per *C – meaning thin film panels are much better at handling the heat than other panel types.
Calculate your solar panel payback period
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Implication Onto Electricity Bill Management And Energy Investment
There is no silver bullet in electricity or energy demand and bill management, because customers have different specific situations, e.g. different comfort/convenience needs, different electricity tariffs, or different usage patterns. Electricity tariff may have a few elements, such as daily access and metering charge, energy charge or peak demand charge . PV is a promising option for reducing energy charge when electricity price is reasonably high and continuously increasing, such as in Australia and Germany. However, for sites with peak demand charge in place, PV may be less attractive if peak demands mostly occur in the late afternoon to early evening, for example residential communities. Overall, energy investment is largely an economical decision and it is better to make investment decisions based on systematical evaluation of options in operational improvement, energy efficiency, onsite generation and energy storage.
What Is Solar Thermal Energy
Solar Thermal Energy uses the power of the sun to heat up liquids or gases, which can then be used for various purposes such as cooking or even heating houses.
One example would be Solar Water Heaters that are installed into homes and buildings.
These water heaters use the suns energy to heat up a liquid which is then transferred into tanks found in buildings or homes.
Solar Thermal Energy has been around for years and what was once used just for cooking, it now being incorporated into heating systems to keep our homes warm using clean, free energy!
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Different Types Of Solar Power Systems For Your Home
When looking into solar power technology to install in your house, a lack of knowledge about the different facets of the technology and how it works can make the process a bit daunting. However, with a bit of research, the right questions to ask your solar power installation specialist, and taking time for consideration, you can find the right solar panels that will bring you significant savings in the long term.
There are four primary types of solar panels available today. Each type has its advantages, disadvantages, and considerations when deciding on which source of power might be best for your home.
What Is Solar Efficiency
Solar panel technology is one of the fastest-developing areas of the renewable energy sector. Every year, new materials, manufacturing techniques, and designs push the boundaries of panel efficiency. This means that homeowners have never had a wider selection of options when it comes to solar panels.
Solar panel materials and designs can vary, but all panels serve the same purpose. Using special materials, solar panels generate electrons when exposed to light, and these electrons are then converted to electricity for your home. The efficiency of a solar panel refers to the amount of electricity the panel generates from light. Most panels fall somewhere between 9% and 20% efficiency.1 The rest of the energy is lost as heat. Still, the average solar panel is efficient enough to be reasonably cost effective.
Efficiency differs between different panel designs, and highly efficient panels often come at a greater cost. However, youll need to find the best value for your dollar when considering the immediate and long-term priorities of your systemand it may not be the most efficient panel available.
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Where Is Residential Solar Headed
Solar panel development is a rapidly evolving field. New technologies are being developed each year that offer increased solar efficiency, faster and cheaper manufacturing, and better long-term durability.
The newest technology in the solar market is the concentrator photovoltaic panel. Developed by the GW School of Engineering and Science, CPV panels shatter previous barriers to solar efficiency with a whopping 44.5% conversion rate.6 Using crystalline lenses, these panels focus sunlight onto very tiny photovoltaic cells that are stacked on top of each other. As concentrated sunlight passes through multiple photovoltaic cells, several wavelengths of light are captured, resulting in the impressive efficiency rating.
Right now, CPV technology is too expensive to mass-produce for consumers. However, breakthroughs like CPV panels are frequentthe next generation of solar technology might soon be found on the roof of your home.
Tempered Vs Plate Glass Solar Panels
When choosing solar panels most people tend to think about the power and the efficiency savings before they consider the kind of glass incorporated. The glass, however, is also important. Going for tempered, or strengthened, glass over plate glass can make all the difference to the longevity of your solar panel array. Whilst tempered is more expensive it can offer greater long term savings.
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What Are Bifacial Solar Panels
Bifacial solar panels can capture sunlight from both the front and back of the panel, thus producing more electricity than comparably sized, traditional solar panels. Many bifacial solar panels will have a transparent back sheet so that sunlight can go through the panel, reflect off the ground surface and back upwards towards the solar cells on the back side of the panel. These solar panels are typically manufactured with monocrystalline solar cells, but polycrystalline bifacial solar panels exist as well.
St Generation Solar Panels
These are the traditional types of solar panels made of monocrystalline silicon or polysilicon and are most commonly used in conventional surroundings.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
This type of solar panels is the purest one. You can easily recognise them from the uniform dark look and the rounded edges. The silicons high purity causes this type of solar panel has one of the highest efficiency rates, with the newest ones reaching above 20%.
Monocrystalline panels have a high power output, occupy less space, and last the longest. Of course, that also means they are the most expensive of the bunch. Another advantage to consider is that they tend to be slightly less affected by high temperatures compared to polycrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
You can quickly distinguish these panels because this type of solar panels has squares, its angles are not cut, and it has a blue, speckled look. They are made by melting raw silicon, which is a faster and cheaper process than that used for monocrystalline panels.
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Types Of Solar Panels: Pros And Cons
- Dickinson College
- Arcadia University
- University of Tennessee
Treehugger / Ellen Lindner
There are three main types of solar panels commercially available: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin-film solar panels. There are also several other promising technologies currently in development, including bifacial panels, organic solar cells, concentrator photovoltaics, and even nano-scale innovations like quantum dots.
Each of the different types of solar panels has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages that consumers should consider when choosing a solar panel system.
|Pros and Cons of the Three Major Types of Solar Panels|
|Monocrystalline Solar Panels|
|As little as 21.4 g CO2-eq/kWh, depending on type|
What Kind Of Solar Panels To Select
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient ones.
Their efficiency is within the range of 12-25 % with a typical value of 18%.
Use monocrystalline panels if either your space is limited or installing large PV panels would be too expensive.
Polycrystalline panels are similar to monocrystalline ones but:
- Compared to monocrystalline panels, need a slightly larger area to produce the same amount of electricity,
- Cost less,
- Are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels with an efficiency range of 12-25% with a typical value of 15%. However, polycrystalline panels are less expensive than monocrystalline ones and are the most widely used type of solar panels today.
Despite these differences, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are a good choice both for residential and mobile solar panel systems.
Apart from the high performance and the self-cleaning ability, they are always preferred where space is an issue and this is valid both for houses and motorhomes.
Thin-film panels usually need a twice larger area to produce the same amount of electricity, compared to mono- and polycrystalline panels.
They are the least expensive type of PV panels with the following most common varieties:
- Cadmium Telluride thin-film panels
- Copper Indium Gallium Selenide thin-film panels
- Amorphous silicon thin-film panels.
Choosing thin-film panels would mean that you have:
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Mode : Not Enough Solar
If, at any point in time, you are not generating enough solar energy for your appliances to use, your switchboard imports grid electricity to make up the shortfall, as shown in this animation and Figure 1.8.
Figure 1.8 Not enough solar so electricity is imported from the grid to top it up.
The energy from the grid in Figure 1.8 flows though the meter too. The meter records how much grid energy you import so you can be charged for it.
Again, the meter cannot measure your homes total electricity consumption . It can only measure your grid imports . Youll need to buy your own monitoring if you want to see whats going on behind the meter, and Ill show you how to do that in Step 5: A monitoring system for your solar.
The concept of behind the meter You expect your electricity meter to know how much energy you use. Sounds obvious, right?
But generating your own electricity needs a whole new mindset. You may be surprised to learn that the meter installed by the electricity retailer doesnt know and cant know the details of what is happening with your homes electricity.
When you have surplus solar, your meter cant see how much electricity your home is using or how much is being generated by the solar system. It can only measure the exported solar.
For example, if youre exporting 2 kW of surplus solar your meter doesnt know if youre generating 3 kW and using 1 kW, or if youre generating 4.3 kW and using 2.3 kW. All it knows is that the difference is 2 kW.
Do Any Solar Panels Have More Than 96 Cells
Though not as common as 60, 72, or 96 cell panels, some solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels with half-cut cells, essentially doubling the number of solar cells within the panel. Half-cut solar cells are monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cells cut in half using a laser cutter. By cutting the solar cells in half, solar panels can experience marginal gains in efficiency and durability.
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Monocrystalline Solar Panels: Pros And Cons
Most homeowners find that monocrystalline solar panels provide a sleek look and have the highest efficiency ratings. For these reasons, they may be the only viable option for homeowners who have smaller roofs and less space for panels. If you need to ensure that every square inch of paneling is designed for maximum output, monocrystalline may be the best type of solar panel for you.
However, while they’re often the most efficient solar panels, the downside to purchasing panels made from monocrystalline silicon cells is that they are fairly expensive.
Temperatures Impact On Solar Panel Efficiency
Another essential key performance indicator of solar panels reveals how their ability to produce solar power efficiently is affected by temperature increase and hot environmental conditions.
This indicator is known as temperature coefficient of power of a solar panel.
Solar panels have a negative temperature coefficient which means that the solar panels performance declines as cell temperature increases.
As you know, the solar panel rated output power is defined under the Standard Test Conditions :
- 25°C cell temperature
- Spectrum at air mass of 1.5
Typically at positive temperatures of the surrounding area, the cell temperature is about 15°C higher than the ambient one, as a result of the solar panel encapsulation.
For example, if the temperature coefficient of a specific solar panel is -0.5%/°C and the ambient temperature is 40°C, the cell temperature is expected to be roughly 15°C higher than the ambient one, as a result of the solar panel encapsulation.
In this case, the loss in the solar panel power output at 40°C is:
In other words, a panel rated at 100W under the STC would produce only 85 W at 40°C ambient temperature.
Generally, the temperature coefficient of thin-film panels is less negative compared to one of the crystalline solar panels.
This means that they may produce more power than crystalline panels under hot temperatures.
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Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Middle Of The Road
Polycrystalline solar panels are typically cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels. This is because the cells are produced from silicon fragments rather than a single, pure silicon crystal. This allows for a much simpler cell manufacturing process, thus costing less for manufacturers and eventually end-users.
How Do Solar Panels Work
Solar panels consists of numerous photovoltaic cells. When sunlight touches the surface of a Solar panel, the packets of energy from the sun are absorbed by these Solar cells. This causes the cells, to excite and start vibrating which generates green electricity. This process is known as the Photovoltaic effect, which was first discovered in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel.
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Three Different Types Of Solar Panels
The three most common types of solar panels on the market are monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels and thin film solar panels. Different types of solar panels are developed for different conditions. In this post, we will go through the differences between the different solar panels on the market.
Solar Cell Count And Efficiency
All PV panels differ in efficiency. Meaning certain types and even brands of Solar panels can convert sunlight into electricity more effectively than others. This is because panels can vary in the number of silicon cells and type they have. The cell count of a Solar Panel often determines its cost, size and weight. Although it is often believed the more silicon cells a panel has, the high wattage and power output it will produce, this isnt always the case. The power output of a panel is dependant on the quality and efficiency of the solar cells themselves.
In this blog we will explore the main three types of solar panel cells: polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin-film. Understanding the difference between the three, is the very first step to selecting your perfect panel for your home, business or community.
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