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What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels for Homes?

As the prices for solar panels continue to drop dramatically, you might be thinking about adding them to your home. Your investment in this form of green energy can be made back quickly thanks to the lower costs and higher efficiencies.

New solar technologies and advances come out all the time, but for now, you have three primary types of solar panels to choose from for your installation. Each has its pros and cons with the best solar panels for you coming down to a balance of price, efficiency, and aesthetics.

Let’s take a look at these three solar panel types to help you decide.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

This first panel type uses a single silicon crystal, hence the name mono. The silicon is sliced into wafers then placed into columns and rows to make the panel. Each panel has about 40 wafers or cells.

Mono panels have a uniform look with a black color. The wafers look like squares with the corners cut off, which creates small gaps between each of the cells.

Of all your solar panel options, these are the most efficient at generating electricity, which means you need fewer to get the energy you need. This works out well if you don’t have a lot of space for panel installation.

Mono panels do cost more than the other two options, but last longer and have the longest warranties.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Poly panels combine lots of fragments of silicon melted together to make blocks. The blocks are sliced into wafers that are placed into the panel.

Unlike the mono version, these create a solid square so there is a more uniform look to the panel. However, the blue color of these wafers tends to be an inconsistent, speckled background.

Because they use multiple crystals, these kinds of solar panels are less efficient at gathering and collecting energy. They aren’t always the best option in high-temperature areas, such as desert zones.

The lower efficiency rating means you need more panels in your installation, so you need plenty of space for the racks. They are lower in cost than mono panels, so they can balance out.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

Called a second-generation cell, thin-film panels are a new development. They’re made of different materials including silicon. Unlike the other panels, the silicon here is a non-crystalline type.

The thin, flexible panel can be stuck directly to a surface by adhesive, so you don’t need frames to install them. They’re made by putting the main substance between thin sheets of conductive material with a layer of glass placed on top for protection. They come out about 350 times thinner than the versions that use silicon wafers.

These solar panels are less efficient than the others. As a result, they’re more likely found in commercial applications where there might be a large roof surface.

They can be used to make shingles, which makes them even easier to install than the others. If you think you’d like to use them on a home, a solar consulting firm might be able to help you determine if you can get enough of them to meet the energy needs of your home.

Choosing Between Types of Solar Panels

Efficiency ratings and cost play the biggest role in choosing between types of solar panels for your home. The best type for you depends on your goals and installation location, so keep those in mind as you’re buying solar panels.

Check out our other articles on adding solar panels to a house, along with home improvement tips and other green energy solutions.

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