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


Total Comments: 7
  1. 1

    Unfortunately, the roof on our duplex faces south, so it’s not very economic to install solar panels.

    • 1

      Bad luck…… you will just have to turn off the master switch and dont use power.. of course there is the daily charge $365 plus a year just to be connected..

  2. 1

    A lot more to consider than in this article.. as they suggest do your research.. also research which type of inverter will be used . Remember if you fit say a 6kwh system you will not actually generate that amount of max output.. lots of other factors effect the final production efficiency.
    Do you go for string panels etc. etc.
    Also it is not necessary to have all panels facing north , that rule is not mandatory depending where in the country you are located.

    • 1

      6KW. Solar panels are not rated by kilowat hours.
      And yes, it is not necessary for all ( or any) panels to face North. The best orientation is to get the most power over a whole day.
      Mine face North West because there are trees to the East and North East. My peak power is at about 3PM.
      Interestingly South Australia are talking about penalising people who’s solar systems produce maximum power and overload the grid. Better for them to produce power around early evening when the grid consumption peaks (A/C units being turned on etc).
      In that case, batteries would be the answer.

  3. 0

    My feed in tariff has been cut in half by Origin Energy and guess what Origin are no longer our providers.The Government said power and gas pricing was on the way down what rubbish.

  4. 1

    There are many things to consider before buying solar. The best starting point is to find a number of well-known installers in your area. Preferably installer/distributors of a quality branded manufacturer. Ask all your various installers to quote based on your current power usage, type of building etc. A standard size home would need a 6.6kw size system. Request Tier 1 panels 22pcs x 300w = 6.6kw. Check for warranty 15/25 years. Then a major consideration is the brand, quality & warranty of the Inverter which probably would have a 5 + 5 years warranty. But there’s more. Ask if a Hot Water Timer installation is included in the price. If not, get the installer to quote. Usually, around $150 installed. Some installers use the timer installation as a bonus & FREE inclusion. This timer is a MUST HAVE in your installation. Workmanship warranty should be a minimum of 5 years. Check your Home Contents Insurer for Solar cover. It should be included at no extra charge. I am a married, aged pensioner, living in Cairns, North Queensland. We have had solar now for 13 months & have never once had a bill to pay in that time. In fact, Ergon Energy sends me monthly credits. Good luck.

  5. 1

    Solar the best thing I ever got 11 years ago. Only 8 panels, most bills in credit, last bill was $18.25. And that was only due to a temporary change of pool pump. I scrimped and saved for it, did a 2nd job. But was worth every cent of the $1265 I spent.



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