Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film solar panels are the three most popular varieties of solar panels on the market.

Which one is ideal for your particular requirements?

Monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin film solar panels make up the majority of the solar panels used in home solar energy systems now available on the market.

The kind of panel is determined by the solar cells that make it up.

Since each kind of solar cell has a unique set of properties, some panels are better suited for certain applications than others.

On assist you in determining which kind of solar panel is best for your house, we’ve put up a comprehensive reference to monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film solar panels.

Key Conclusions

  • Solar panels come in three basic varieties: thin film, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive than other solar panels but are very efficient and feature a modern design.
  • Although polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive than monocrystalline ones, they are both less effective and more unattractive.
  • The cheapest solar panels are thin film ones, but they are also the least efficient and take up a lot of space.
  • More significant than the kind of solar panel you install is the brand of solar panels and the solar contractor you choose.

A Trio Of Solar Panel Types

#1. Monocrystalline

The most common solar panels utilized in rooftop solar panel installations nowadays are monocrystalline solar panels.

The Czochralski process, in which a silicon “seed” crystal is dropped into a molten vat of pure silicon at a high temperature, is used to create monocrystalline silicon solar cells.

This procedure creates an ingot of silicon, also known as a single silicon crystal, which is subsequently divided into thin silicon wafers for use in solar modules.

Witty Fact There Are Several Monocrystalline Solar Panel Types.

There are many different types of monocrystalline solar panels available on the market today.

Monocrystalline PERC cells, also known as Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact cells, are becoming more and more popular.

The production capacity of PERC cells is increased by using a modified manufacturing and assembly procedure.

Bifacial solar panels, a different monocrystalline technology, are gaining popularity in commercial ground-mounted applications because they can produce power on both the front and back of a module.

#2. Polycrystalline

Homeowners wishing to install solar panels on a budget often choose polycrystalline panels, also known as “multicrystalline panels.”

Polycrystalline panels are constructed of silicon solar cells, much as monocrystalline panels.

However, because of the unusual cooling process, numerous crystals rather than just one develop.

60 solar cells are often found in polycrystalline panels installed on residential buildings.

#3. Flimsy Film

Due to their lower efficiency ratings, thin film solar cells are often employed in large-scale utility and industrial solar projects.

A thin coating of a photovoltaic material is deposited onto a solid surface, such as glass, to create thin film solar panels.

Amorphous silicon (a-Si), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), and cadmium telluride are a few of these solar materials (CdTe).

Although each of these materials produces a unique “kind” of solar panel, they are all considered thin film solar cells.

The photovoltaic material condenses during manufacture into a thin, lightweight sheet that is sometimes bendable.

Solar Panel Performance Type

#1. Most Effective: Monocrystalline

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient form of solar panel, with efficiency ratings ranging from 17 to 22 percent.

Because they need fewer panels to produce the same amount of energy, monocrystalline solar panels are perfect for houses with small roof spaces.

The efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels may be attributed to their manufacturing method.

Electrons may readily move across monocrystalline solar cells since they are built of a single silicon crystal, boosting total efficiency.

Monocrystalline panels often have the greatest power capacity ratings in addition to having the best efficiency ratings.

Currently available monocrystalline panels will typically have a power output rating of at least 320 watts, but they may go as high as 375 watts or more!

#2. Performance Of A Middle Class: Polycrystalline

Efficiency ratings for polycrystalline panels generally vary from 15% to 17%.

The movement of electrons through the solar cell is what causes the lower efficiency ratings.

Multiple silicon cells are found in polycrystalline cells, which makes it harder for electrons to travel around and lowers the panel’s efficiency.

Due to their lower efficiency, polycrystalline solar panels typically produce between 240 and 300 watts less electricity than monocrystalline solar panels.

Power ratings for certain polycrystalline panels are higher than 300 watts.

The efficiency and power ratings of polycrystalline panels have, however, received a minor boost over time thanks to new technologies and production techniques, thereby narrowing the performance gap between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.

#3. The Least Effective: Thin Film

The efficiency rates of thin film solar panels are exceedingly low.

Thin film efficiencies were in the single digits only a few years ago.

Thin film cell prototype efficiency has recently reached 23.4 percent, although commercially available thin film panels typically have efficiencies in the 10 to 13 percent range.

To generate the same amount of power as crystalline silicon solar panels, you would need to install more thin film panels across a larger area in order to satisfy your energy demands.

Thin film solar panels are thus not truly practical for residential installations with constrained space.

Witty Fact The Best Temperature Coefficient Is Found In Thin Film Panels.

Thin film panels often have the best temperature coefficient, which indicates that when the temperature of a solar panel rises, the panel generates less power, while having lower performance specifications in most other areas.

The temperature coefficient indicates how much the power output will drop for each degree the panel is heated over 25 degrees.

For monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, the usual temperature coefficient ranges from -0.3% to -0.5% per *C.

On the other side, thin film panels are around -0.2% per *C, which means they can withstand heat significantly better than other panel types.

Kind Of Solar Panel And Price

#1. Costliest: Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Due to their production method and superior performance, monocrystalline solar panels are the most costly of the three solar panel kinds.

The cost gap between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels has, however, significantly decreased as production techniques and solar panel technology in general have advanced.

#2. Polycrystalline Panels Are Affordable.

Polycrystalline panels have historically been the least expensive alternative for households that want to go solar without significantly losing panel performance.

Between 2012 and 2016, polycrystalline panels gained a significant market share in home solar installations because to cheap costs.

However, as we previously said, the cost difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels is decreasing.

Now, many households are prepared to spend a little extra to purchase monocrystalline panels with much greater efficiency and power ratings.

#3. Most Affordable: Thin Film Panels

Thin film solar panels are the least expensive form of solar panel, partly due to its ease of installation and equipment requirements.

They can produce enough energy to power a house, but they also operate considerably less well and take up a lot more room.

Additionally, thin film panels need to be updated more often than other panel types since they age considerably more quickly than other panel types, which increases long-term recurrent expenses.

Sorting Solar Panels Based On Appearance

#1. Thin Film Panels Are The Most Appealing.

All-black thin film panels provide a modern appearance.

Because of their thin shape, they can rest flat against rooftops and fit in better.

In certain cases, thin film panels are so thin that it is difficult to even discern the panel’s individual cells.

Additionally, they often have fewer wiring and busbars, which leaves less open space.

Thin film panels would need to cover your whole roof, which may or may not be to your taste, due to their extreme inefficiency.

#2. Monocrystalline Panels Provide A Mid-Range Look.

Monocrystalline panels seem completely black, which makes them blend in well with your roof.

However, there is a lot of empty space on the panel due to the design of monocrystalline solar cells.

Some manufacturers have found ways to get around this, such as using black packing or reshaping the cells, although these cosmetic alterations might affect the panels’ performance and pricing.

Monocrystalline panels still have a modern aesthetic overall, but they stand out a little more than thin film panels.

#3. Polycrystalline Panels Have The Worst Look.

Polycrystalline panels have a propensity to stand out.

Polycrystalline solar cells have a blue, marbled appearance as a result of the manufacturing process.

This indicates that each polycrystalline panel is significantly distinct from the one next to it in appearance.

The looks of polycrystalline panels aren’t very appealing to the majority of homeowners.

Witty Fact Crystalline Panels Outlast Thin Film In Terms Of Durability.

In comparison to mono and polycrystalline panels, thin film panels often have lower wind and hail ratings.

Therefore, although thin film panels could seem appealing at first, a severe storm might result in serious harm.

What Kind Of Solar Panel Is Ideal For Your House?

The best solar panel type for home solar systems is monocrystalline.

Even though the cost will be somewhat greater, you won’t have to give up durability or performance to have a system with a subdued look.

Additionally, the monocrystalline panels’ high efficiency and power output ratings might help you save more money over the course of your system’s lifespan.

Polycrystalline panels can be a better choice for you if money is short.

Because of their poor performance and durability, thin film solar panels are not advised for residential installations.

Additionally, it is doubtful that you will have nearly enough room to install the necessary number of thin film panels to meet your household’s power needs.

Other Things To Think About Than Solar Panel Type

When selecting solar panels for your house, there are two factors that SolarReviews believes are more crucial than the kind of solar PV cell: the brand of the solar panels and locating the best solar installation.

No matter what kind of solar panel you place on your roof, choosing a high-quality manufacturer will guarantee that it will be a superb product.

You can choose the solar panels that will fit your roof the best without compromising on quality by using our official list of the top home solar panel brands of 2024.

When adopting solar, the installer is perhaps the most crucial factor to take into account.

You need an installation you can rely on for more than two decades since a solar panel system will be on your roof for at least 25 years! Because they provide the most individualized customer service for solar projects, we suggest local, reliable solar installers with strong customer review ratings.

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Written by Bob Matsuoka
Bob Matsuoka is a blogger and founder of RVing Beginner blog. He has been blogging for over five years, writing about his own family’s RV adventures, tips for people who are interested in buying an RV or taking their family on an adventure by RV.