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Three Types of Solar Panels

solar energy solar roofingIf you’re shopping around for solar PV panels for your home, there are three main types of panels commonly used in solar installation.

Before we explore the three different types of solar panels, let’s look at how solar panels, in general, are manufactured.

The P and V in “PV” Panels
You hear the term “solar PV panel installation” a lot here at EcoOoutfitters.net. What does it mean? The P stands for “photo” (as in, sunlight) and the V stands for “voltaic” or electricity. So, solar PV panels generate electricity from sunlight. They are manufactured from treated silicon, a semiconductor that releases electrons when light hits it, generating electricity. While other materials could be used, silicon is the same semiconductor material used in circuit boards and is affordable and readily available.

Three Types of Silicon Solar PV Cells
The solar PV panels used in home solar energy installation are made up of a collection of solar PV cells made from treated silicon. The difference lies in the silicon.

1. Monocrystalline solar cells - These are cut from a single large crystal of silicon. The cells are laid out in large squares on the solar PV panels. Since these cells have the most silicon in them, they are the most efficient of solar PV cells, and also the most expensive.

2. Polycrystalline solar cells - These are made from many smaller pieces of silicon, integrated with rectangular conduit wires into ribbon-like panels. Think of the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline as the difference between a piece of furniture made from solid wood and one made from particleboard, or smaller pieces of wood pressed together with other materials.

Polycrystalline solar cells, because they contain less silicone, are less expensive and slightly less efficient. However, their construction helps make up for some of the efficiency loss, making them a popular choice in residential solar PV applications.

3. Thin-film solar cells - These inexpensive solar cells were originally used on solar PV calculators and are common, today, in solar lights that decorate the outside or line the pathways of some homes. They are not often used in residential solar PV installations. If you have a lot of space to place your solar array — such as on a farm — thin film solar cells may be a good choice.

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

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