What are the different types of solar panels? Which is best for you?

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As energy prices continue to skyrocket there is increasing interest in solar energy, with some significant savings possible.

However, there is so much information to digest when considering this option that many people get put off by the idea.

The starting point is what type of solar panels are right for your situation and will deliver the best value and results?

Each solar panel is comprised of several solar cells that are mostly made of silicon and are connected together between protective glass and a backing plate. The whole panel is then usually surrounded with an aluminium frame and most installations will require several solar panels to deliver efficient results.

The two most common types of solar panel are monocrystalline or polycrystalline (sometimes called multicrystalline).

Monocrystalline panels are typically black and have a reputation for higher efficiency, while polycrystalline panels are typically dark blue and are considered to have a much better temperature tolerance.

According to consumer group CHOICE, however, while there are some technical differences between the two types of solar panels, there are more important considerations when deciding on the type of solar panels, such as price, rated power output and warranties.

A third option in solar panels that is still an emerging technology is thin film solar panels. These are made from a thin layer of photovoltaic material and is more flexible than the other two types of panel, but it is generally less efficient and is still rare in rooftop installations.

Another comparison site, Canstar, states that monocrystalline panels do have the highest efficiency, but this is tempered somewhat because of their construction.

This is because the monocrystalline cells have curved corners that result in wasted space when the cells are combined to form a solar panel, which only makes them slightly more efficient than polycrystalline panels that waste less space when they are combined to form a panel and are also much cheaper.

CHOICE provides the following solar panel buying guide checklist:

  • Assess what energy you currently use and the system capacity you need (and can afford).
  • Check if your roof faces the right direction. Only north-facing panels will produce their full capacity.
  • Ensure there are no trees, power lines or other structures shading your roof.
  • Find out what local council approval is needed. Increasingly, local councils have staff on hand to help people make the best decisions on solar.
  • Try to figure out your system’s payback time.
    Get multiple quotes from installers to ensure you’re getting a good deal, and make sure your installer is accredited.
  • Make sure your solar panels meet the required standards.
  • Check your solar panels’ product and performance warranties.

Do you have solar panels installed in your home? Are these monocrystalline or polycrystalline? How did you decide which panels to go with for your house? Would you recommend them to others?

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Written by Ben


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