What are the Types of Solar Panels?
There are different types of solar panels or photovoltaic cells that one can use to create a solar farm. The top three types are monocrystalline power panels, polycrystalline power panels, and thin-film solar cells. There are other types and other ways of converting solar power into usable electricity, but those are a subject for another day. Solar cells are complicated, so for now we’re just going to go into the basics.
Monocrystalline power panels are types of solar panels that have multiple squarish cells (missing the corners, of course) in rows and columns. The reason the corners aren’t there is because of the way the wafers are manufactured. Essentially, when the silicon is made into wafer, it forms a cylindrical ingot (unlike gold, which is closer to a rectangle), or log. Once this is cooled, small layers are cut off to form the basis of the cells and panels. Because they’re circular, when the panels are put together not all of the surfaces are covered with cell material, and so there’s a considerable waste of usable material. Due to this, monocrystalline panels are more expensive to create and take more panels as a whole to make a “full” farm. However, they are more efficient at converting sunlight than other types of solar panels.
Polycrystalline power panels are types of solar panels that are made of solid blue panels. Instead of being made of circular wafers, the silicon is poured into rectangular molds and then cut into squares. These result in the typical full-blue panels you see on house roofs and in yards. Because the silicon in the panels is of a different cellular structure than the type in monocrystalline cells, it doesn’t need the special processing and can, therefore, cover the full base of the panels. You don’t need as many panels to create a full farm, and those two combined means that polycrystalline panels are cheaper. There is a bit of a trade-off, however, because they’re less efficient than the other types of solar panels.
Another type of solar panels are the thin-film solar cells which are made by taking very thin layers of photovoltaic (material that conducts solar energy) silicon and putting multiple layers on a base block. Once you have put down enough of these layers, you are then able to connect them into blocks and panels. Because you don’t need a large amount of the same type of silicon to make these, it’s much cheaper to manufacture thin-film cells than any other types of solar cells. You can create a farm of these in bits and pieces, and it’s projected at this point that these thin-film cells will be the most popular in the years to come.
There are many other types of solar panels and ways to convert solar power as stated above. Here at United Solar Energy we have years of experience putting together the best solar power solutions for our customers. Whatever type of panel you need, we’ll go over the reasons, what your cost is going to be, and how long it will take us to get things installed. Contact us today to find out which solar panels are best for you.