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As clean energy solutions continue to advance, many home and business owners are turning to solar energy. The wide range of solar panel designs makes choosing a solar system tricky for those unfamiliar with the differences between standard options. Consumers have many panel types to choose from for harvesting solar energy, and each variation offers different advantages and disadvantages.
Below, the PES Solar team explains the four primary solar panel designs available today to help you choose the best solar system for your home.
Four Main Types of Solar Panels
Solar panels, also called photovoltaic panels, use the sun’s electromagnetic radiation to produce electricity. They consist of many solar cells containing layers of material, including silicon wafers, phosphorus, and boron. The phosphorus and boron layers create negative and positive charges, and the silicon serves as a semiconductor, producing direct current (DC) electricity when photons from the sun come into contact with the panel.
A panel’s efficiency, appearance, and ideal applications depend on the type. The four main types of solar panels include:
1. Monocrystalline Panels
The silicon wafers of a monocrystalline (single-crystal) panel all come from the same silicon crystal, providing high levels of efficiency and durability. Monocrystalline panels work great for solar systems with space limitations but cost more than other solar panel designs.
2. Polycrystalline Panels
Polycrystalline (multi-crystal) panels consist of silicon wafers formed from fragments of many crystals. Instead of cutting each wafer from the same silicon crystal (monocrystalline), manufacturers melt the pieces down and use a mold to pour the silicon layer.
The resulting silicon doesn’t boast the same purity as the monocrystalline method, resulting in larger and less efficient panels. Despite these drawbacks, polycrystalline panels make an excellent option for solar consumers on a budget.
3. Thin-Film Panels
As the name suggests, thin-film panels use thinner layers than traditional solar panels. Despite being less efficient, these panels provide a great option because manufacturers produce them in a wide variety of sizes, often smaller than other solar panel designs.
4. Passive Emitter and Rear Cell Panels
The newest type, Passive Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) solar panels, are monocrystalline panels with an additional layer on the back of each solar cell. This extra layer improves efficiency by reflecting the sunlight back into the solar cell and preventing the metal back sheet from heating up.
Though these tend to be expensive panels compared to other options, PERC panels provide the best choice for absorbing the maximum amount of solar energy in smaller spaces.
Discuss Your Solar Panel Options with PES Solar
The solar contractors at PES Solar can help you choose the best type of solar panel for your budget and application, whether you want a rooftop solar energy system or are looking into solar panel locations aside from your roof. Call us at 800-650-6519 today to discuss your options for solar panel designs. We proudly serve homeowners and business owners in Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach, FL.