The solar energy market has expanded enormously during the last decades. More and more people are looking at ways to reduce their energy bills and solar energy is one of the most effective ways to achieve it. Up until recently, many customers avoided solar panels because they were simply too expensive, but nowadays, prices are going down. The technology also improved and now most solar energy systems are very effective, even in the colder areas of the country.
There are multiple types of solar panels available on the market, coming from hundreds of manufacturers. Each solar panel is best for a certain location or type of use, so be careful when choosing them. While some will be great if you live in Arizona, the same model will not be so effective for someone living in New Hampshire. Similarly, solar panels differ when it comes to their chemical structure, appearance and, most importantly, their price.
Here is a short list featuring the main types of solar panels currently available on the market:
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most commonly available on the market and many customers find them fairly affordable, easy to install and effective. Essentially, they are made of fine slices cut from pure drawn crystalline silicon bars. The cells are aligned in one direction, and they work best if they are installed at a fixed inclined angle. They work great under direct sunshine and they are easily recognizable thanks to their black color – a feature that increases the light absorption rate.
Monocrystalline solar cells are smaller than normal crystalline cells, but they are densely packed, increasing the panel’s overall efficiency. Generally, the power output is higher than average, but only if there is enough direct sunlight.
Also known as multicrystalline panels, these panels are made of silicon off-cuts, a special chemical compound that includes several bits of pure crystal. These crystals are not evenly shaped and some of them can be misplaced, leaving irregular empty spaces. Because of this, these panels may not be quite as efficient as monocrystalline panels.
These irregular areas, however, make these panels excellent for cooler, shadier areas. Basically, these panels work better if the light comes from different directions and sunshine is irregular throughout the day. Although the overall difference between monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels is marginal at best, multicrystaline panels are more effective in the temperate areas of the country.
Polycrystalline panels also look different – you can see the irregular, diamond-shaped patterns created by the crystals. Also, the colors are different, a bluish hue being common for these panels. Some customers specifically choose these panels for their irregular patterns and varying colors. Anyway, when it comes to costs, the prices are fairly similar to the monocrystalline panels.
Hybrid panels are manufactured only by a few major companies, but they are highly efficient. These panels have a thin layer of amorphous solar film located behind the monocrystalline cells. The layer increases the solar absorption rate, increasing the panel’s overall performance. Because of this, the hybrid panels will also take up the least space on your roof. Moreover, they can be placed at almost any angle, even horizontally.
These solar panels are quite new on the market and their price is still high, so they are only recommended for homeowners who have really small roofs and want to extract the maximum amount of energy per square feet. They are, on the whole, better than monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, but should only be installed if space is a problem.
Black-backed panels and black frames
Completely black solar panels are somewhat of a niche product. They are based on common solar panels, either monocrystalline or polycrystalline, but they have a completely black frame and backing. They absorb the lightest, but can overheat your home, especially during hot summer days. However, many customers choose black panels because they look great on dark-colored roofs, such as dark slate roofs.
Choosing a solar panel can be overwhelming, though, by getting in touch with an expert like Bob Heinmiller, you will be able to make the selection process more manageable.
Flaviu Mircea, a freelance writer and solar energy enthusiast enjoys sharing with is audience the brighter side to solar energy. If you would like to learn more about Flaviu, you can check out his google+ profile.