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Understanding the Different Types of Solar Panels

Solar energy is a good green source of energy and a serious option to consider for your energy needs. Other options such as wind turbines and hydroelectric generator can be used in but for most homes and smaller business solar is one of the most achievable options.

Solar power generates energy from the sun simply by converting sunlight to electricity. This process is done with no moving parts, producing zero emissions, and with very little maintenance. This type of product is constructed using a series of small and individual silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight. This sunlight hits the surface of the solar panel and it has the effect to produce an electrical current on the surface of small silicon wafers.

When you are in the market for solar panels the sheer variety of panels to choose from can make things confusing. That being said there are three basic types of panels i.e. polycrystalline, amorphous and mono- crystalline. The names imply exactly what type of materials the panels are made from. However, the latest and more expensive solar panels are made using a technology called ‘thin film’. These thin film panels haven’t yet broken into the market owing to their high ownership price and limited manufacturing.

Mono-crystalline Panels

These type of solar panels are made from large silicon crystals. These are probably one of the most commonly used solar panels and their efficiency has improved quite considerably over time. The upside to these is their high efficiency (the ability to convert sunlight into electricity). They also offer the best performance in cloudy / low light conditions where other types of panels may not be able to perform. That being said these are also the most expensive types of panels around.

Polycrystalline Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are cheap making them great for home use. The easy way to tell difference between polycrystalline and other type of solar panel by looking at its appearance because they appear to be composed of shattered glass. The biggest drawback of these panels is that they are not very efficient mainly because they are composed of small parts of silicon crystals as opposed to one large crystal. This is why they appear to be made from shattered glass. Many have also complained that these panels are delicate and will need to be replaced when its efficiency reduces considerably.

Amorphous Panels

Amorphous panels are made from a thin film which is equivalent to using molten silicon which has been spread over a large plate. These panels are very cheap to produce but are less efficient than both poly and mono crystalline solar cells. While some people may purchase these cells to power small items the fact is that they are not efficient enough for home use.

Regardless, of if you purchase solar panels online or offline it is important to take note of a cell’s efficiency. The efficiency of a cell refers to the overall rate at which the cell can convert sunlight into electricity. There are also different grades of solar cells which determine the cell’s integrity i.e. whole or broken. Always check the efficiency guarantee prior to making a purchase. For instance, thin film solar cells will degrade at the rate of 1% every 12 months while poly and mono-crystalline cells will degrade at the rate of 0.5% every year. So, mono-crystalline cells will usually have an 80% average efficiency guarantee for 20 years. You can visit https://us.sunpower.com to learn more about types of solar panels and how to choose your best.



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