All About Solar

SOLAR 101

Types of solar panels

Before helping you to identify your most suitable type of solar panel, let me introduce you the most common three types of solar panel to be used on rooftop solar project: polycrystalline, monocrystalline, and thin-film. These solar panels vary in how they are made, appearance, performance, costs and the installation each are best suited for.

Polycrystalline & monocrystalline solar panels:

Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have cells made of silicon wafers. To build a monocrystalline or polycrystalline panel, wafers are assembled into rows and columns to form a rectangle, covered with a glass sheet, and framed together. 

While both of these types of solar panels have cells made from silicon, monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels vary in the composition of the silicon itself. Monocrystalline solar cells are cut from a single, pure crystal of silicon. Alternatively, polycrystalline solar cells are composed of fragments of silicon crystals that are melted together in a mold before being cut into wafers.

Thin-film solar panels:

Unlike monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, thin-film panels are made from a variety of materials. The most prevalent type of thin-film solar panel is made from cadmium telluride (CdTe). To make this type of thin-film panel, manufacturers place a layer of CdTe between transparent conducting layers that help capture sunlight. This type of thin-film technology also has a glass layer on the top for protection.

Thin-film solar panels can also be made from amorphous silicon (a-Si), which is similar to the composition of monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Though these thin-film panels use silicon in their composition, they are not made up of solid silicon wafers. Rather, they’re composed of non-crystalline silicon placed on top of glass, plastic, or metal.

In fact, sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you get a mono or a poly panel. What is important is you buy a good brand that will last 25+ years installed on your roof.

 

Reference: Energy Sage, Solar Quotes