Solar panels are getting a lot of attention as part of the solution to immediate electricity bill savings and environmental impact. Over the last couple of decades, the basic principle of converting the sun’s energy into electricity has been perfected and introduced as a commercially viable option for property owners like you. And what’s more, there are different types of solar technology to leverage free energy – each with their own benefits – that can best meet your needs.
Solar energy in a nutshell
One of the basic laws of science establishes that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be transferred into different forms. Solar energy companies like SolarGaines have access to all of the different technologies available. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are dark-colored to catch as much sunlight as possible and transfer it to the conductive coating. When sunlight strikes, the different elements react and produce a charge in the small gap. That current is collected and routed to Inverters that convert it to grid-ready electricity, just like the power you have been purchasing from the utility grid.
Which solar panel type best suits your needs – monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin-film?
While this principle applies to all types of solar technology, manufacturers have developed refined models that rely on slightly different photovoltaic elements. Photovoltaic solar panels made with silicon are the most common on the market today. Silicon is a conductive element also used in computer chips. Nearly 90% of all solar panels sold in the US work using one form of crystalline silicon or another. Within this market, you have a couple of reliable options from which to choose. Make sure to consult with an expert to help you determine which solar panels are right for you.
Here are 3 different types of solar technology used in PV panels:
- Monocrystalline silicon panels are made of the purest and most refined silicon. Manufacturers cut the silicon into wafers using a practice called the Czochralski process. These panels are also known as mono-Si or single-crystalline cells. They produce the highest power outputs, and collect the most energy per square inch than any other type, usually 15-20%. They also require the least amount of space and last the longest. For all of these reasons, they are the most expensive, but normally come with the best warranties.
- Polycrystalline silicon or multi-crystalline panels are simpler to produce and are often less expensive than monocrystalline solar panels because of the way they are made. Basically, the silicon is poured into a mold (instead of being made into a single crystal) after which it is cut into uniform squares used for constructing the finished PV panels. Although these solar panels have a lower price tag, they are less conductive (13-16%) and less tolerant to heat than their purer counterparts.
- Thin-Film solar cells are the least conductive but most versatile option. Some models are flexible, which could allow for novel applications. They have a sleeker appearance than silicon panels, but they are currently only capable of harnessing 7-13% of the sunlight. If space on your property is not at a premium, thin film may be the best option despite their lower-performance. TFPV panels are coated on the base-plate or substrate with one of these photovoltaic coatings:
- Cadmium telluride
- Organic photovoltaic cells (OPC)
- Copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS)
- Amorphous silicon
The different types of solar technology are on the market today because users have different needs and budgets. Whether you have limited space or live in a cloudy climate, a solar energy expert can help you determine the best solar panels to get maximum ROI.