When shopping for roof solar panels, not only are there a number of brands, but also various types of roof solar panels to choose from. And each type has its pros and cons.
So what kind of roof solar panels are there? And how do they differ from one another?
To date there are 3 types, which we will explore in this article.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels:
The first and most widely used type are monocrystalline solar panels. Since they were the first to be produced, they have dominated the solar market for quite some time. They are your typical blue iridescent panels with rounded cells packed in uniform rows and visible from all directions.
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be very expensive to produce since they require a single silicon crystal grown in a very complicated process. This results in higher prices for consumers. In fact, at the time of writing this (Dec 2008), monocrystalline solar panels are about 41% more expensive per watt compared to thin film solar.
The advantage of these photovoltaic panels is that they take up the least space, making them a good choice for people with not much space. And although the cells are very fragile, they are secured in a rigid frame and can last for over 25 years.
Multicrystalline Solar Panels:
The second type to be produced is multicrystalline solar panels. Also known as polycrystalline solar modules, they are manufactured from a large block of numerous silicon crystals. This gives them a mosaic-like or shattered glass look. And since they are not made from just one silicon ingot, they are slightly less efficient but also cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels.
Multicrystalline photovoltaic panels are made by cutting the silicon block into thin wafers to form individual cells, which are then joined to make the panels. What make them attractive to consumers is they cost slightly less than monocrystalline panels, but have a similar life span.
Amorphous Solar Panels:
Better known as thin film solar panels, the third and last type is really thin and flexible, making it light weight and easy to handle.
At first amorphous solar panels were made by fixing thin silicon material to glass or stainless steel, which made them rigid. But to make them flexible and durable, the silicon is now applied between flexible laminate material. This has the added advantage of being able to fix the panels to almost any surface. In fact, thin film solar is so versatile and aesthetically appealing that it can completely replace traditional shingles or steel roofing.
Another advantage is they are the cheapest panels for manufacturers and consumers because they require the least silicon and the simplest production process. This also results in the lowest cost per watt of power.
However, since they are very thin, amorphous solar panels are over 40% less effective than mono- and multicrystalline panels at turning the sun's rays into electric power. So to get the same power, they need almost twice the surface area, which not everyone has.
Furthermore, thin film solar technology is still in its infancy, so there is a large debt over its lifespan. And some people believe the panels can lose their efficiency after only a couple of years. It is only once more research and development has been put into thin film solar that we will be able to see it as a reliable and intelligent solar energy investment for households and businesses alike.
To conclude , there are three main types of roof solar panels to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. By understanding their differences we hope you will make a better informed decision when you finally invest in roof solar panels at home.