Types of Solar Panels – Based on Efficiency, Cost, and Appearance

Purchasing a solar panel is a safe investment to save money on utility bills and reduce carbon footprints. In recent years, solar panels become the primary choice of most people in switching towards a more sustainable and cleaner future.

To meet the rising demand for solar energy, manufacturers and suppliers are coming up with different types of solar technologies. In the present time, solar PV (photovoltaic) panels become an attractive option to generate renewable and clean electricity for industrial, commercial, residential, and other applications.

Types of Solar Panels

Solar panels, an ideal residential and commercial solar solutions is a device that transforms sunlight into usable electricity. There are different types of solar panels available on the market today based on their performance, appearance, and cost. These several sorts of panels are designed to meet particular energy requirements.

To discover multiple solar panel types, keep scrolling down.

First-generation solar panels

These are conventional solar panels made of polysilicon or monocrystalline silicon to be used in traditional surroundings.

Monocrystalline (Mono-SI)

Made from a single and pure silicon crystal, these solar panels are popular for their increased lifespan and higher efficiency. They are capable to transform more solar energy into electricity than other variants. They are slightly less affected by high temperatures.

Polycrystalline (Poly-SI)

These panels have square space and are made by melting raw silicon, a cheaper and faster process. Sometimes, these panels are considered multi crystalline panels. These are widely popular among households to install panels within their budget. Polycrystalline panels primarily used in homes have 60 solar cells. They are less expensive than monocrystalline panels.

Second-generation solar panels

These solar cells are numerous kinds of thin film solar cells. They are primarily used for PV (photovoltaic) power stations.

Thin-film solar cells (TFSC)

Designed by putting one or more films of PV material like cadmium, copper, or silicon onto a substrate, these solar panels are less expensive than other options. They are more lightweight and flexible than conventional panels from crystalline silicon. Since their durability is shorter than mono and poly solar panels, they have the shortest warranties.  

Amorphous silicon solar cell (A-Si)

These types of solar panels are primarily used in pocket calculators. They use a triple-layered technology with a malleable twist. They are used for various applications in objects with less energy needs and commercial projects. They are made using a thin strip of silicon with a rubber-like texture.

Third-generation solar panels

These types of solar panels feature a variety of thin film technologies, however, most varieties are in the research and development stage.

Biohybrid solar cell

These solar cells are still being researched by experts. Most of the materials used while designing these cells are identical to the conventional methods. The only difference is that multiple layers of photosystem 1 are combined in biohybrid solar cells.

Concentrated PV cell (CVP and HCVP)

These PV cells produce energy similar to traditional PV systems. They have the highest efficiency rate and high performance. To get benefitted from the higher efficiency of these solar panels, they must face the sun at a right angle.

Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell (CdTe)

This is the most common thin-film panel making up 5% of all panel sales. They are made using cheaper materials like cadmium sulfide, magnesium sulfide, or cadmium telluride. Since these low-cost materials are toxic pollutants, they can cause harm to human health and the atmosphere when disposed of improperly.

Other types of solar panels

Bifacial solar panel

As the name suggests, these panels are designed to collect sunlight from both sides. They can be easily installed in multiple settings like rooftops, flat surfaces, and sides of the property. These solar panels are made using a thin layer of PV material deposited onto a substrate like plastic or glass, with a reflective surface on the back. That’s a reason they’re widely used in regions having high levels of reflected sunlight.

Hybrid solar panels

Also recognized as PVT (photovoltaic thermal) panels, these systems blend the advantages of solar PV panels and solar thermal collectors in one unit. These panels have the great ability to optimize space utilization.

Building-integrated PV panels or BIVP

These solar panels can be used as façade cladding, roofing, and shading parts. They are more expensive than conventional panels and provide additional perks like power savings and enhanced aesthetics.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) solar panels

Made using gallium, indium, copper, and selenide on top of a base of plastic, steel, glass, or other rigid materials. These can be simply installed in areas standard solar panels can’t. For example, odd-shaped roofs.

Varying prices of different solar panel types

The cost of a monocrystalline panel in India ranges from INR 8,000 to INR 52,000, based on the needed wattage. A polycrystalline solar panel is less expensive than mono panels and ranges between INR 6,000 and INR 10,000 for commercial applications. A single sheet of thin-film panel can range between INR 1500-150000. Compared to other solar panels, thin-film panels are less expensive.

The price of bifacial panels can differ based on the size of the panels, installation costs, and the manufacturer. Their pricing can range between INR 37-52 per watt.

Appearance of different solar panel types

Monocrystalline solar panels can be recognized for their solid black color and subtle appearance. Their solar cells are shaped in a way that there is some white space on the panel. Thin-film solar panels with an all-black appearance lie flat against the roofs. You would require covering the whole roof in these panels. Poly panels are designed in a way that they have a marbled and blue appearance.  

Performance ratings of different types of solar panels

Monocrystalline panels have 17-22% efficiency ratings, emerging as highly efficient solar panels. Hence, homes with limited roof space can get their installation from the best rooftop solar installation company. Compared to other options, they have the highest ratings for power capacity. The efficiency ratings of polycrystalline panels can range from 15-17% and have 240-300 watts.

Compared to other solar panels, thin-film panels have extremely low-efficiency ratings. According to some research reports, 23.4% efficiency can be achieved with these solar panels. But, commercially they are available with 10-13% efficiency ratings. Despite having low-efficiency ratings, thin-film panels have great temperature coefficients.

How to pick the best solar panel for your home?

To buy the best solar panel for your home, you must consider some important factors –

  • Size and accommodation
  • Efficiency
  • Weather
  • Durability
  • Roof space availability
  • Price
  • Warranty
  • Power consumption
  • Certification
  • Quality
  • Financial alternatives

If you’re confused about multiple solar panel options and factors to consider, contact us at Megamax Solar. We will help you with the installation of the most appropriate system to enjoy cost saving through solar power and secure a healthier and pollution-free environment for coming generations. We will recommend the best option based on your power consumption needs, budget requirements, and the solar suitability of your building.        

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