What Are the Main Types of Solar Panels for Homes?

types of solar panels

The solar revolution is gaining traction in the US, with the total solar panel installations expected to reach roughly 3 million by the end of 2021. That figure will surpass 4 million by 2023.

These figures may not seem like much at first glance. However, when you consider that it took well over 40 years for the number of home solar panels to cross the one million mark, it becomes clear that Americans are embracing solar energy in unprecedented numbers.

Different types of solar panels range in price. The average solar panel installation ranges between $11,144 and $14,696 for the average-sized house. This estimate excludes solar credits.

This cost may seem steep at first for some homeowners. But when you consider the numerous benefits of solar panels, it’s easy to see past the installation cost.

So, what types of residential solar panels exist on the market? Read on to find out.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are among the best solar panels on the market today. They’re highly reliable and efficient when it comes to collecting and providing clean energy. 

Monocrystalline solar panels convert an estimated 20 percent of the energy they collect into electricity. And as technology becomes more refined, there are models that exceed this statistic, thanks to greater efficiency. 

Given their relatively small size, monocrystalline solar panels are convenient to install as you don’t need too much space. 

The longevity of these solar panels is without question. With good maintenance, these panels should last 25 to 30 years, if not more. 

Perhaps the main downside of monocrystalline panels is that they’re generally priced higher than most other types of home solar panels on the market. But given the many good qualities that these solar panels pack, their long-term benefits far outweigh their initial cost. 

Keep in mind that there are also ways to get better deals on solar panels, especially if you’re working on a limited budget and are bent on getting only the best. You can compare prices from different sellers, for instance.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Another popular option for people thinking of installing solar panels is to purchase polycrystalline solar panels. These panels come at a more affordable price than their monocrystalline counterparts. You still get to enjoy plenty of energy at home.

One of the main reasons polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper than monocrystalline options is that they cost less to manufacture. A major part of their production involves the melting down of raw silicone. This process is both fast and simple. 

As less money and time is invested in the manufacture, these savings are passed down to consumers. 

But there are several drawbacks that come with polycrystalline solar panels. For instance, they have a lower efficiency rate, at 15 percent. Note that this is still a lot of electricity, just not as much as you’d get with monocrystalline panels.   

Polycrystalline solar panels also don’t last as much as their monocrystalline counterparts. Over time, these panels get damaged by hot temperatures. Given that these panels need to be out in the sun, this may be a big concern. 

Thin Film Solar Cells

Just like the name suggests, thin-film solar cells are made by placing a thin silicon film onto a substrate. Other photovoltaic materials that may also be used include copper and cadmium. 

Given that thin-film solar cells are easy to manufacture, these solar panels are some of the most affordable in the market today. They’re thus highly recommended for people looking for a clean way to power their homes at a low price. 

Thin-film solar cells are remarkably versatile and can be used in lots of different ways. Some of these solar panels feature a design that allows them to be folded. You can also position the solar panel in a variety of positions to maximize efficiency.

Thin-film solar cells are also not easily affected by high temperatures. Besides, they’re entirely waterproof. That makes them very durable.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Panel

In recent years, amorphous silicon solar cells have become commonplace, thanks to their ability to be used in a variety of devices.  While there are a few differences between these solar panels and thin-film solar cells, both types of solar panels are classified in the thin-film category of solar panels.

Amorphous silicon solar panels are quite inexpensive to manufacture, just like thin-film cells. As a result, this variety of solar panels tends to be priced reasonably.

Another remarkable quality of amorphous solar panels is that they’re remarkably weather resistant. They can withstand temperatures between -40°F to 175°F, which means you can install them outdoors without a worry. 

However, amorphous silicon solar panels have much lower efficiency levels than crystalline options. Expect an efficiency rate of 7 percent, which is less than half of what you get with monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Of course, you can always buy several panels to make up for the deficit, given the friendly prices of amorphous silicon solar panels.

Biohybrid Solar Cell

Solar technology is always evolving and getting fine-tuned, leading to the emergence of new developments in the sector. Among the latest and most promising developments in the industry are biohybrid solar cells.

Biohybrid solar technology tries to copy the process of photosynthesis as seen in nature. By using multiple photosystem layers, designers can come up with a highly functional solar panel. 

Biohybrid solar panels have the potential to surpass the efficiency of all other solar panels in existence today. So far, the solar panels developed in the laboratory have proven to have far greater efficiency than even crystalline solar panels.

It’s important to note that biohybrid solar panels are still yet to hit the mainstream market. However, this is a product every homeowner needs to keep a close eye on, given its potential to revolutionize the entire solar energy sector.

Cadmium Telluride Solar Panels

Cadmium telluride solar panels are still relatively new on the market. This solar technology is already in use in some parts of the world, but it’s yet to become widespread. 

There are many good things about cadmium telluride solar cells.  They’re quite inexpensive to manufacture, and production time is also short. These factors contribute to the friendly price of this solar panel.

One of the reasons why cadmium telluride solar panels aren’t widely used is due to the fact that cadmium telluride is toxic. Ingesting or inhaling the substance can prove harmful to your health. Many people are thus still wary of fully committing to this technology. 

Multi-Junction Solar Panels

Multi-junction solar panels feature a highly advanced type of solar technology that makes them stand out from all other solar panels out there. So far, we’ve seen that the most efficient solar panels available today convert 20 percent of the energy they absorb to electricity. The rest of the light captured mostly winds up as heat instead of electric power.

Through multi-junction solar panel technology, it’s impossible to convert an incredible 40 percent of the solar energy absorbed into electricity. This high level of efficiency is achieved through the use of multiple layers of semiconductors. Each semiconductor converts lights at varying wavelengths, minimizing energy loss.

At the moment,  multi-level solar panels are used in large projects. However, you can look forward to having these panels readily available for residential use soon. 

Considerations When Determining What Types of Solar Panels to Buy

By now, you know that the four readily available solar panel options for homeowners are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film, and amorphous silicon solar panels. The other three will become more common as time goes on. 

So, how do you decide which solar panel type to buy? Well, the most critical thing to think about is what you value most in a solar panel.

If efficiency is your priority, then you want to choose monocrystalline solar panels. But if you’re most interested in the most eco-friendly solar panel, then go for polycrystalline solar options. Where budget is the main concern, thin-film and amorphous silicon solar panels are your best option. 

Find the Best Solar Panel Option for Your Needs

Solar energy is proving a viable option for powering homes throughout the United States, thanks to its many advantages. Not only does solar power guarantee long-term savings on power costs but also drastically reduce the overall residential carbon print. And with different types of solar panels on offer today, there’s always a guarantee that you’ll get something that works for you.

Are you interested in professional solar installation services? Get a no-obligation quote from us today.