Different Solar Panel Types
There are multiple types of solar panels available in the market. They vary according to power sizes, brands, and models. However, we can classify them in bigger groups according to the technology that they use and the manufacturing process that they went through. Based on this aspect, we can classify them in three big commercial groups.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
This technology is the most efficient one available in the market. Best solar panel brands offer their top models using a monocrystalline manufacturing procedure. Efficiency values for this technology currently go from 17% to 23%. Moreover, they have a characteristic dark color and rounded shape corners. Basically, their manufacturing procedure consists of the Czochralski process under which a single silicon crystal is used to manufacture the silicon wafer.
There is also a premium on the price of these panels due to the outstanding performance, however, when evaluating the overall results, they are totally worth it.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
These panels are the second most efficient types that you will find available in the market.
You will distinguish them by their typical dark blue color and their squared shape edges. These modules are manufactured using multiple silicon crystals which provides that irregular look in the surface of the wafer.
Efficiency values of polycrystalline solar panels vary between 14%-18% across brands and models where some premium polycrystalline modules are able to compete with monocrystalline technologies.
Thin-Film Solar Panels
Finally, the thin-film modules are the less commercially available types and they are generally used for very specific applications and especially for low-size PV cells.
The wafers of these modules are also very flexible and they are the easiest ones to manufacture as well. This also makes them probably the most economical option available. However, the efficiency values of these solar panels are located way below monocrystalline efficiencies, barely approaching 10%.
There are other technologies available as well such as Cadmium-Telluride (CdTe), Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) and Copper Indium Selenide (CIS). Nevertheless, these are still mainly used for laboratory and special applications.