Types of Solar Panels

Today there are essentially four different types of solar panels that you can purchase easily and use if you want to install solar panels on your home to generate electricity or heat your home. They are Monocrystalline Silicon Panels, Polycrystalline Silicon Panels, String Ribbon Silicon Panels, and Amorphous Silicon Panels.

Monocrystalline Silicon Panels

Monocrystalline (or single-crystal) silicon solar panels have a return electricity rate of anywhere from 14% to 18%.

These panels are made from one continuous sheet of silicon that has pieces of metal nailed to the edges to increase the conductivity and to excite the electrons.

Monocrystalline panels are more expensive than some of the other types of solar panels that you can buy but they are also more effective, so in the long run, you’re better off buying these panels if you can afford the upfront cost.

Polycrystalline Silicon Panels

Polycrystalline (or multi-crystal) silicon panes have an electricity return rate of about 12%-14% so they are less efficient than monocrystalline silicon solar panels.

These panels are made up of lots of individual PV cells that have metal conducting materials nailed to the sides that will help excite the electrons and also connect the cells together.

Polycrystalline silicon panels are the cheapest solar panels to produce so they are usually the cheapest for consumers to buy.

The maintenance costs of polycrystalline silicon panels are lower than the maintenance cost of monocrystalline solar panels because if one of the cells on a polycrystalline panel is damaged you can have the individual cell replaced without having to replace the entire panel.

String Ribbon Silicon Panels

String ribbon silicon panels are made in a similar way to the polycrystalline silicon panels and have about the same electricity return rate.

The difference between string ribbon silicon panels and polycrystalline silicon panels is that the PV cells in a string ribbon panel are made of strips of silicon attached to metal bars that connect the strips to form a cell.

Using strips of silicon to form the cell instead of using one solid square of silicon make the production cost of string ribbon silicon panels a bit lower than the production cost of polycrystalline silicon panels.

Amorphous Silicon Panels

Amorphous silicon panels have the lowest electricity return rate of any type of solar panel. Traditionally amorphous silicon solar panels have an electricity return rate of between 5%-6%.

That’s because these panels aren’t made with crystalline silicon. They are composed of a piece of semiconductive metal, like copper, with a thin silicon film over the top that is attached to some metal pieces.

These panels are very cheap to produce but when you’re buying solar panels for home use you need to consider the long term efficiency of the type of panel that you’re buying.

Unfortunately, though cheap to begin with they do not produce much energy, therefore amorphous silicon panels are not going to be cost-effective in the long run.

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