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What Are the Main Types of Solar Panels for Your Home?

types of solar panels

There are more than 2.7 million solar panel systems in the United States alone, and you might soon be among that number if you find that solar panels are right for you. But what are the different types of solar panels, you might ask? Is there any significant difference between them, and is one better than the other?

How can you know which type of home solar panels is right for you and your home? Keep reading and learn more about the different types of solar panels below. 

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are often referred to as mono panels. They are a relatively simple type of solar panel in terms of construction because they consist of one sheet of silicon. You will find these solar panels on all sorts of buildings, especially residential buildings. 

In particular, because these solar panels are relatively streamlined compared to other solar panel options, the benefit of these panels is that they can fit in very small spaces. For example, if you don't have a lot of space on your roof for any other kind of solar panel, mono solar panels should still be a valid option. They are also unique because they last a very long time, often longer than other solar panel options. 

Keep in mind, however, that there are two main types of mono solar panels: bifacial and passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC). The benefit of PERC panels is that they involve an extra layer in their solar cells that helps with energy absorption and conduction. As a result, these solar panels are perfect for mounting on your roof and absorbing as much light energy as possible. 

Bifacial solar panels, on the other hand, as the name suggests, can absorb light from both the top and bottom sides. For that reason, there is not much of a point in having these solar panels on your roof. Instead, it is best to have these panels set up on the ground so that the sun can hit both sides of the panels at different times of the day. 

The Appearance of Mono Solar Panels

The design of these solar panels is relatively simplistic. If you ever manage to look at mono solar panels up close, you will find that they are mostly black. However, there is some white space that permeates the solar panels, so they are not completely black. While mono solar panels are quite streamlined due to the fact that they consist of a single layer of silicon, they are not the most streamlined solar panels on the market. 

For that reason, they will not be able to lay flat on your rooftop. Instead, they will sit slightly raised on the rooftop. While the panels will not be very noticeable, most people will still be able to notice them on your roof. 

Keep this in mind if you are worried about the way solar panels might affect the overall look of your house. However, the solar savings are always worth the changes in your property's appearance.

Another downside of mono solar panels is that they can be quite expensive. 

This is especially true if you want to get several solar panels at once. However, as long as you live in a sunny area, you should eventually get your money back for your solar panels through the energy they generate for your home.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline, or poly, solar panels are a bit older in design compared to other kinds of solar panels. For that reason, if you are looking to buy solar panels at some kind of discount, you can try buying poly solar panels. Even though they are older and not as streamlined as mono solar panels, they still work quite well. 

They manage to accomplish what they are designed for, but the downside is that they are not as efficient as newer solar panels. For that reason, even though you will save some money when buying them, you might not make your money back with solar savings as quickly. It will be especially difficult for these solar panels to generate enough energy if you live in a place that isn't often sunny. 

At the same time, poly solar panels do not work well in very hot areas such as Arizona, Florida, or Texas. While these areas have plenty of sun for the solar panels, the extreme heat that accompanies them will cause the poly solar panels to degrade at a faster rate. For that reason, you will need to pay careful attention to your climate if you decide to get poly solar panels. 

The appearance of polycrystalline solar panels is unique compared to mono solar panels. In particular, the solar panels are blue instead of black. Some poly solar panels even have some variations in shades that makes some panels look somewhat marbled. For that reason, polycrystalline solar panels do not blend in very well on rooftops. 

What You Need to Know

If you don't care much about the appearance of the solar panels on your home, then this might not be a problem for you. On the other hand, if you want your solar panels to be as unnoticeable as possible, then poly solar panels will likely not be the best option for you. Poly and mono solar panels are actually made of the same type of silicon. 

However, they are different because poly solar panels go through a different manufacturing process. Most poly solar panels will consist of 60 solar cells. The power generated from these cells is usually around 300 watts. 

This is slightly lower compared to mono solar panels, which produce around 400 watts. While the difference is not huge, mono solar panels are certainly more efficient. If you're unsure which one to choose, it is best to consider both the price and efficiency of the solar panels and think about which factor is more important to you. 

Also, think about how the solar panels might appear on the roof of your home. 

Thin-Film Solar Panels

You will not often see thin-film solar panels on home rooftops for several reasons. Instead, you are more likely to find them on commercial buildings or vehicles such as boats. Why might this be, you ask?

While there are many benefits of solar panels of this type, there are also quite a few downsides. For one, thin-film solar panels are not as efficient as other types of solar panels. You will need to have a large number of these solar panels to generate the amount of energy you need. 

You'll even see large spaces, especially industrial spaces, filled with these solar panels so that they will generate enough energy for whatever purpose they're serving. However, even though they aren't very efficient, these solar panels make up for it with the fact that they are very streamlined. As the name suggests, thin-film solar panels are very thin. 

They are thinner than any other type of solar panel. For that reason, they will lay completely flat against your roof. More than that, these solar panels are also all black with no white space or marbling getting in the way. 

This makes the solar panels perfect for those who don't want their solar panels to be very noticeable. You will be satisfied to know that thin-film solar panels blend into all sorts of different rooftops without any issues. These solar panels are so thin that you can even put them on certain vehicles like boats or trucks. 

They are so streamlined that they don't even need scaffolding. Scaffolding is almost always necessary when installing mono or poly solar panels onto a roof. It is the scaffolding that raises the solar panels a few inches above the roof's surface and makes them more noticeable. 

The Details

Because thin-film solar panels don't need any scaffolding, they will hardly be noticeable on your roof. But again, thin-film solar panels are not anywhere near as efficient as poly or mono solar panels. For that reason, you will need to buy many more thin-film solar panels at once if you want to generate enough energy for your home. 

You might even need to cover your entire rooftop with these solar panels to generate the right amount of energy. The downside of this is that buying so many solar panels can be quite expensive. You'll also have to keep up with all the solar panels. 

While solar panels, in general, are relatively durable, there will always be the chance of one of them breaking down or becoming damaged. Thin-film solar panels are also made of silicon, although it is a unique type of silicon. It is also usually blended with glass to finish the panel. 

The unique thing about thin-film solar panels is that they are very flexible. They are so flexible that they fit perfectly against most rooftops even if the surface of the rooftop is not completely smooth. Again, this makes these panels perfect if you're worried about how they look on your roof. 

How to Choose the Right Solar Panels for You and Your Home

Now that you know about the three main types of solar panels, you might be wondering how you should go about choosing the right solar panels for you. Keep in mind that all three of these solar panels are good choices. However, they are not ideal for everyone because of their differences. 

For that reason, you will need to think about what factors are most important to you when choosing solar panels. For example, first consider the cost of these solar panels. If you are on a tight budget, you aren't going to be able to afford a great number of solar panels. 

For that reason, thin-film solar panels may not be a good option for you. On the other hand mono solar panels may be a slightly better option, but they are still somewhat expensive even though you won't need to buy as many panels. Poly solar panels are undoubtedly the most affordable option. 

However, because poly solar panels rely on an older design, you will find that they are not very efficient. You will need to determine whether the lack of efficiency is worth the lower cost. You will also need to think about the appearance of the solar panels

Factors to Consider

If you are worried that solar panels will ruin the look of your home, it is best to opt for thin-film solar panels. As mentioned before, these solar panels do not require any scaffolding. This allows them to lay flat on your rooftop where they are barely noticeable. 

Mono solar panels are also not very noticeable, but they still require scaffolding which will raise the panels slightly off the surface of your roof. Poly solar panels are not best if you're worried about the appearance of your home since they are quite bulky and blue in color, which makes them very obvious. 

And, of course, there is the factor of efficiency. Mono solar panels are the most efficient out of all of them. However, thin-film solar panels can also be quite efficient but only if you install them in large numbers. 

All About Different Types of Solar Panels

There are several different types of solar panels to choose from, and it is important to understand the differences between them so you can make the right choice.

For example, while poly solar panels are affordable, they are not very efficient because they are of an older design. Mono solar panels, on the other hand, are quite sleek and efficient even though they are more expensive. 

To learn more about solar panels, click here.

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