Whether you’re interested in a solar power system for your home, business, or community, several factors will determine which type of solar panel is best for you. This article will explore the different types of solar panels available on the market and their unique benefits.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the oldest and most efficient solar panel types. They produce more power per square foot and typically have a 25-year power production warranty. They also have the lowest temperature coefficients of any panel type and suffer less from Light Induced Degradation (LID).
The unique structure of these black-colored solar cells makes them more effective than other solar panels. They resemble squares without corners and fit neatly together, eliminating space between cells.
Polycrystalline solar panels use melted silicon fragments instead of single-crystal ingots, making them less expensive than monocrystalline solar panels. They also have a sleek appearance and are an excellent choice for residential roofs in Aurora, Colorado. However, you must install more panels to generate the same electricity as monocrystalline solar panels.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are the most common in residential solar systems. These crystalline silicon solar panels are more expensive than thin-film options, but the high efficiency and power capacity ratings can help homeowners save money on their electricity costs.
The most popular monocrystalline solar panel varieties are passivated emitter, rear contact (PERC), and bifacial. These variants undergo a unique manufacturing and assembly process to boost their power output ratings and overall lifespan.
Polycrystalline solar panels have a blue and marbled look that many homeowners don’t care for, so they typically only make sense for commercial or similar property buildings with plenty of roof space. Moreover, they have lower wind resistance and hail protection ratings than their monocrystalline cousins, so these might not be the best option for homeowners.
These solar panels use micron-thick photon-absorbing layers deposited on a flexible substrate. They also utilize the photovoltaic effect to convert light energy into electricity.
These panels typically outperform crystalline silicon technologies across most impact factors. However, their lower efficiency and shorter lifetimes increase the environmental impacts per kilowatt-hour of electricity production. The specific material used can influence the environmental impact of a PV system, including human toxicity and heavy metal emissions.
Compared to mono or polycrystalline silicon modules, thin-film systems require more space to generate the same power due to their low efficiency rate. This makes them ideal for larger rooftop spaces and open areas. Additionally, thin-film technologies like CIGS or GaAs have a much higher NOMT than c-Si modules, which makes them suitable for portable and BIPV applications.
Your solar panel type will ultimately depend on your energy needs and location. Keep in mind, however, that whichever panels you opt for are designed for long-term installation, with a life span of 25 years or more.
Off-grid solar systems are independent of the power grid, storing the electricity generated by your solar panels in batteries for use at night and in case of cloudy or rainy weather. They typically feature a solar charge controller to optimize operating voltages and a battery inverter that converts the DC stored in the batteries to the more usable 120/240v used by household appliances.
To size an off-grid solar system, start with a load evaluation to determine your household’s energy consumption. This will help you size both your solar array and your battery bank.
If the energy generated by your solar panel system is greater than what you use, it can be sold back to the grid. The money earned from doing this can offset the initial cost of a PV system and increase the market value of your property.
A typical solar panel installation in Colorado involves wires from your panels to an inverter and a generation meter. These are usually large, tamper-proof meters that track electricity production and consumption.
The generation meter must comply with most codes and ensure your local utility company correctly compensates you. In addition, most code-compliant systems require a charge controller between the inverter and the DC disconnect. This ensures that the batteries do not overcharge. Installing a battery backup is also an excellent idea if your area is prone to blackouts and rolling brownouts.