Learn all about the types of solar panels available today
For centuries, fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and petroleum have been the conventional source of energy for mankind. However, they are finite in quantity, and their rate of replenishment is very slow compared to their consumption. On the other hand, solar energy is found in abundance because the sun offers an unlimited source of power.
The power-generation potential of solar energy is so high that the sun can generate enough energy in one day that would be sufficient for the entire humankind for 27 years. To tap the true potential of solar energy it is important to use the most suitable solar panels under optimal conditions of solar irradiation and temperature.
Research and advancements in modern technology have led to the development of different types of solar panels. In this article, let us explore the different types of solar panels, their characteristics, and how they differ from each other.
The various types of solar panels can be categorized as follows:
First Generation Solar Panels
- First-generation solar panels are the first and oldest panels to be invented. They are divided into the following types:
Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono-SI)
- These panels are made from silicon which is in its purest form. They are made from a single crystal of silicon. A telltale feature of monocrystalline solar panels is that the cells have a uniform dark look and have rounded edges. Due to the purity of silicon used in their formation, these panels have the highest conversion and efficiency rates. The latest models of monocrystalline solar panels have a conversion rate of 20% and above.
Monocrystalline solar panels have multiple advantages; they have higher outputs, are more durable, and can be adjusted in smaller spaces. They have better endurance to higher temperatures i.e. their conversion efficiency is less affected by temperature extremity. On the downside, monocrystalline solar panels are costlier than other panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poly-SI)
- Polycrystalline solar panels are made by melting multiple fragments of raw silicon to form wafers for the panel. This process is faster and cheaper hence polycrystalline panels have lower prices compared to monocrystalline panels. These panels have a blue hue and the panels are in the form of squares. Polycrystalline panels do not have sharp cut angles.
On the downside, polycrystalline panels have a lower conversion efficiency of 15%, are less durable and temperature extremities impact their conversion efficiency to a higher extent.
Second-Generation Solar Panels
- Second-generation solar panels comprise of thin-film solar cells. They are commonly used in smaller solar systems and for integrated buildings.
Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)
- Thin-film solar panels are the more advanced form of first-generation solar panels. They are manufactured by assembling films of different photovoltaic materials onto a substrate. The photovoltaic material may comprise silicon, cadmium, or copper. Thin-film solar panels are inexpensive as less material is required for their production.
Some thin-film solar panels are malleable hence they can be placed in unconventional locations as well. They have a higher tolerance to temperature extremities. On the downside, their lifespan is much shorter than mono and polycrystalline solar panels and they require quite a lot of space to set up. This makes them unsuitable for residential spaces.
- All types of solar panels have a limited life after which their efficiency decreases drastically. Reuse and recycling are the most suitable waste disposal solutions available for end-of-life solar panels. If you are looking for reliable solar panel recycling solutions, contact PV2 Recycle.
We offer large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at email@example.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.