Types of Solar Panels

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Are You Installing Solar Panels for Your Building?

With different types of Solar Panels available in the marketplace, a question that may linger is – What type of Solar panel to choose?

How to know the best type of Solar panel that would suit your requirements?

Having information about the different types of Panels helps you in making the best purchase decision on solar panels.

In this article we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different types of Solar Panels to help you in this regard.

Ready?

Let’s start.

Working of a Solar Panel

Before we understand the different types of Solar Panels, let’s understand the basics of how Solar Panels work in general. Solar Panels are made of Solar cells that create electricity by capturing Sunlight.

Solar Cells

They are made of semiconductor materials like silicon which conduct electricity. The Solar cells are sandwiched with 2 layers: N-type and P-type layer.

  • N-type Layer – This layer is capable of losing electrons.
  • P-type Layer – this layer is capable of receiving electrons.

When Solar Panels are exposed to sunlight, solar cells absorb sunlight. When Solar Cells absorb much of the sunlight the N-type releases electrons and the P-type receives electrons. Electrons thus released are made to flow in a circuit and electricity is created.

 

Solar Cell Cross-section
Solar Cell Cross-section

For more on how solar cells work: http://www.explainthatstuff.com/solarcells.html

Different Types of Solar Panels

There are 3 major types of Solar Panels that are seen in the marketplace. These are:

  • Monocrystalline Panels
  • Polycrystalline Panels
  • Thin film Panels

Let us understand each of these types in detail:

Monocrystalline Panels

Monocrystalline Solar panels

These Panels appear dark black or dark blue in color. These panels are made of Single silicon crystal.

Czochralski is the process for creating the mono-crystalline panels. This involves getting silicon wafers cut from conical silicon ingot. The silicon ingot is got by melting silicon rocks at a very high temperature in a furnace. A seed crystal is hung from a narrow cable that is lowered into the furnace with a rotator which is slowly pulled up from the furnace. What is got is the silicon ingot or block made of one crystal, hence the name mono-crystalline.

The cone shaped silicon ingot is cut into silicon wafers that is used to make the solar cells. There is a lot of wastage that happens while cutting the silicon ingot into wafers.

The use of a single silicon crystal allows for more easy electron flow. Hence these panels offer more efficiency(Watt output to that of the Solar size.)

It means that you gain slightly more power for the same amount of space with monocrystalline panels compared to other types of panels.

Advantages – It provides the highest efficient Solar Panels in the range of 14-21% efficiency.  It also takes less rooftop space. Another advantage is that they are more resistant to shading issues. Also they perform better at higher temperatures.

Disadvantages – Although it provides highest efficiency, the cost of monocrystalline panels is very high compared to the other types of Solar panels. But with the improvements in technology we are seeing panels with higher efficiencies at affordable prices.

Polycrystalline Panels 

Polycrystalline Solar panels

Polycrystalline panels are made by melting silicon rocks in a square shaped quartz mold. The melted silicon cools and harden to crystallize. They cool at different rates as the outside layer cools and sets in  quickly compared to other layers. This creates the different crystals and hence the name poly-crystalline panels. They are then cut into wafers used for creating Solar cells.

The process for creating Polycrystalline panels is much cheaper and creates less wastage compared to other panels.

They are less efficient than monocrystalline panels due to the structural inconsistencies at the seams where two different crystals meet.

These are much cheaper than monocrystalline panels, but need more solar panels with more investment to be made in other equipments like racking equipments, inverters and so on.

Advantages

Poly crystalline panels are much cheaper to produce. Hence the costs are much cheaper compared to mono-crystalline panels.

Disadvantages

They are less efficient compared to monocrystalline panels.

Thin Film Panels

Thin film Solar panels

These are not made of silicon wafers as compared to the Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. These are made by depositing semiconductor material on ceramic substrate. The manufacturing process of thin film panels are much cheaper compared to other types of panels and much cheaper to procure than other types of Solar panels. But these are less efficient compared to monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. They are a lot more flexible and easy to transport.

Advantages – Since it is of less weight it allows for flexibility and easy to carry. These have a consistent look in terms of design and look pleasing to eye. 

Disadvantages – they are less efficient compared to other panels. Occupies more roof space. The lifetime of these types of panels is less. They associated cost of these panels are high since these panels have esser efficiency.

Which one to buy: Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline or Thin film panels?

The choice on selecting the Solar Panels varies based on a number of factors like – Price, Efficiency, Flexibility.

Monocrystalline Panels are used where efficiency is of a high priority. Also if space is a constraint then you can go for Monocrystalline panels.

If cost is a factor, but you are fine with a lesser efficient solar panel then the user can go for Polycrystalline panel or Thin film panels. If space is not a constraint then these may be the right type of Solar Panel to go for.

Thin film solar panels can be considered if efficiency is a very important factor. These kind of panels also resistant to shading which improves efficiency of the Solar Panels. Another nice thing about these kind of panels are they are also aesthetically pleasing. If efficiency is not a big factor then these type of panels can be considered for households.

Apollo offers different kinds of Solar Panels and installs the Solar Panels that suit your requirements. If you are interested in procuring high quality Solar panels, contact us. We will help you get the right kind of Solar panels installed at your premises.

 

Apollo Power Systems Pvt Ltd

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