Different Types of Solar Panels

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Solar panels have been identified as an important player in a future geared towards the greater use of renewable energy sources, and have therefore become much more apparent in the energy-saving market worldwide.

When it comes to purchasing solar panels for your home or commercial property, you have more than one product to choose from. As energy-saving technology has improved through decades of development, so has the available selection of solar panels from various leading brands within Australia and beyond.

By learning more about what differentiates one type of solar panel from another, you can determine which installation would best suit the needs of your property.

In general, there are three main types of solar panels available in the marketplace, based on the types of solar cells/substances utilized: Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, and Thin Film (or Amorphous) panels.

These different types of solar panels can vary in price, the amount of surface area needed for installation, their efficiency, and more. Keep reading for a brief summary of how these different types differ.

1. Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Solar panels powered through mono crystalline cells are the oldest variety on the market and have been in use for over 40 years. Some of the initial mono panels first commissioned in the 1970s are still operational today, offering proof of their durability.

However, as the the importance of sustainability has become even more apparent in recent decades, leading manufacturers of these panels have still worked to improve these panels’ efficiency since then to adequately power properties of the current day.

Out of all three types of solar panels, monocrystalline panels produce the smallest solar cells. Unlike thin film/amorphous panels, monocrystalline panels may be ideal for properties with limited space, as their installation requires less panels and therefore, less roof space.

Mono crystalline panels are usually black, or otherwise dark, with white diamond shapes on their surface. On average, the efficiency of these panels is 18% and above. They also offer slow efficiency degradation, meaning they lose little efficiency annually.

2. Polycrystalline (or Multicrystalline) Solar Panels

Although polycrystalline panels are somewhat similar to monocrystalline, polycrystalline solar panels are a newer technology in renewable energy production and their efficiency may vary somewhat between manufacturers.

Although the silicon used to create these panels are easier to make than monocrystalline technology, they typically feature similar or slightly less efficiency rates at an average of 15-16% plus. The efficiency of these panels can vary based on the manufacturer, however, as some companies such as Trina Solar have recently boasted panels offering up to 21% efficiency. In general, an advantage they can hold over monocrystalline panels is their better temperature co-efficiency.

Polycrystalline solar panels are blue in color and may require more surface area than mono varieties because of the need for more panels. However, this variety still requires less surface/roof space than thin film panels and therefore may still be preferable for properties with limited panel space.

Although their efficiency as compared to monocrystalline panels is arguable, because of their cheaper production, polycrystalline panels are often the standard technology for residential solar panel installation.

3. Thin Film (Amorphous) Solar Panels

Among the monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, thin film panels are an outsider, constructed in a completely different way than the former two. As they are the most recently-innovated variety, they are the least-developed of the three types. It is expected that that the efficiency of the technology will continue to improve over the next decade through additional development processes.

A number of photovoltaic substances have been commercially used in the construction of these solid black panels, in combinations and on their own, including: cadmium telluride (CdTe), dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC), amorphous silicon, and copper indium gallium selenide (CGIS).

Although these panels offer the least efficiency in comparison to the previous two mature technologies because of the larger amount of space required for installation, they have become cheaper to produce because of their low material costs. The current estimated efficiency rates of these panels range from 7-13% but are expected to reach up to 16% in the near future.

To learn about the different types of solar panels that we offer at Queensland Solar and Lighting, or to get started on installation and harnessing the sun’s energy to power your home, contact us today!

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