Are you planning to buy solar panels, but got confused about which type to go for? There are a lot of factors that you should take into account when buying a solar photovoltaic system for your home. One important factor that is overplayed by solar panel manufacturers is “efficiency” based on which they charge a premium.
However it is important to understand that use of the word “efficiency” here is related to “space used” and not about “energy produced”. In other words, “lower efficiency” means it requires “more space” to generate the same amount of power.
To answer the question “which type of solar panel is best for home use”, you should first understand about the three types of technology that are used to make solar panels today and their advantages: Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, and Amorphous thin film.
Here’s the lowdown of solar panels in lay man’s term:
Monocrystalline: Being the earliest technology it is the most developed of the three technologies. As the name suggests these solar panels are created from a single continuous crystal structure. The easiest way to identify a monoctystalline solar cells is that it appears as a single flat color.
Some important factors to note about monoctystalline solar panels:
- Since this type of solar panels gives the highest power outputs, they require the least amount of space when compared to other types of solar panels.
- Another upside of monocrystalline panels is that they have a longer lifespan and so most solar panel manufacturers provide a 25-year warranty for their monocrystalline solar panels.
- However, monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive of all three.
Polycrystalline: These are made by pouring molten silicon into a square mold and allowing it to set. Thus the new material from the resulting block contains many crystals and because of which it is called polycrystalline.
Some important factors to note about polycrystalline solar panels:
- Due to the process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and there is less waste of silicon compared to monocrystalline the polycrystalline solar panels costs less than mono.
- Polycrystalline solar panels need a larger surface to output the same electrical power as that of monocrystalline silicon. So if you have space shortage this is an important factor to consider for your choice of solar panels.
Amorphous: These are made by depositing a thin film of silicon onto a sheet of another material such as glass, steel, etc. The panel that is formed appears as one piece and the individual cells are not visible as in other types of solar panels.
Important factors to note about amorphous film cells:
- As mass production of these types is possible, they are cheaper than the other two types.
- These type of solar cells makes more sense where space is not an issue as they require three times the number of panels for a standard installation to achieve the same power output.
So you see, the answer to the question “which type of solar panel is best for home use” is it depends on your roof space and your budget. But there are other important factors to be considered also.
Other factors to take into account when planning your solar system:
- Size of Your Solar system: This will depend on the size of your home and your energy requirements. Use this calculator to find out how many solar panels you will need for your home and how much space they will occupy.
- Local tax benefits: On top of the 30% solar tax credit offered, there are lots of additional incentives offered by state governments and utilities. So check what are available in your state and use them to reduce the cost of your solar panels
Hopefully, this information has thrown some light on your confusion regarding which type of solar panel is best for your home and help you to make an informed decision.