Types of Solar Panels: 8 Types Explained

types of solar panels

Did you know that just one minute of the sun generating power can satisfy the global energy demands for an entire year?

Remarkably, the energy produced by the sun in 24 hours can surpass what humanity would use in 27 years.

Therefore, solar energy is not only a steadfast and enduring power source but also a highly economical and effective one.

This is particularly true when the selected solar panels and the surroundings perfectly harmonise with each other.

The industry has witnessed significant growth, with concerted efforts to hone techniques to harness, utilise, and store solar energy effectively. This is achieved through an array of solar panels that proficiently transform sunlight into precious electricity.

Are you prepared to journey towards a luminous and eco-friendly future?

Opting for solar panel installation is a wise step in minimising your carbon footprint and concurrently lowering your energy expenses. Please take a moment to start a journey that benefits the environment and your financial health.

Recommended Article: Best Solar Panels Ireland

Get a Free Quote

Ready to harness the power of the sun? Get a free quote today for solar panel installation in your home and take the first step towards energy independence!


Understanding the Various Types of Solar Panels

Selecting the ideal types of solar panels hinges significantly on individual requirements and geographical factors.

Notably, the utility of sunlight varies drastically on Earth compared to space, illustrating that the panel's location is a crucial aspect of your choice.

It's vital to differentiate between the types of solar panels, which can mainly be categorised as single-junction and multi-junction or classified into first, second, or third generations.

 The distinction is based on the number of layers that capture sunlight and the variations in material and efficiency across different generations.

First-Generation Types of Solar Panels

These constitute the classic types of solar panels, primarily crafted from monocrystalline or polysilicon. They find common usage in standard environments.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono-SI)

These solar panels contain highly pure monocrystalline silicon and are recognised by a uniform dark appearance and rounded corners.

Their purity contributes to high-efficiency rates, exceeding 20% with the latest models.

Despite being the priciest option, monocrystalline panels offer significant advantages. They provide high power output, require less space, and have an extended lifespan.

Moreover, they are less sensitive to high temperatures than their polycrystalline counterparts.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poly-SI)

Identifiable by their blue, speckled surface and uncut square angles, these panels are produced through a quicker and more cost-efficient process involving melted raw silicon.

This manufacturing method has a more affordable but less efficient product, with efficiency rates hovering around 15%.

Although polycrystalline panels offer lower space efficiency and a reduced lifespan due to greater susceptibility to heat, the disparities with monocrystalline panels are not monumental.

Your choice between the two types of solar panels will significantly depend on your specific circumstances, with both offering comparable power outputs, albeit at varying prices and space efficiencies.

Second-Generation Types of Solar Panels

This category encompasses various types of thin-film solar cells. They find primary application in photovoltaic power stations, building integrations, or smaller solar setups.

Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)

Seeking an affordable alternative? Consider thin-film solar cells. These types of solar panels are economically advantageous, created by applying layers of photovoltaic materials like silicon, cadmium, or copper on a substrate.

Their production requires fewer materials, making them cheaper and quicker to manufacture at scale.

A notable feature is their flexibility, which paves the way for diverse applications. Moreover, they demonstrate better resistance to high temperatures than other panel types.

However, their extensive space requirement often rules them out for residential projects. Additionally, they have a shorter lifespan and come with limited warranties. Despite these downsides, they serve as viable options in spaces where area is not a constraint.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell (A-Si)

Have you ever operated a solar-powered pocket calculator? Then you've encountered these types of solar panels.

Predominantly found in small calculators, the amorphous silicon cell is a premier option in the thin-film category. Utilising a triple-layer technology, these cells offer optimal performance within their class.

To convey an idea of their slim structure, the cells have a thickness of about 1 micrometre, equating to one-millionth of a metre.

Although their efficiency rate of 7% trails behind crystalline silicon cells, which boast an 18% rate, their cost-effectiveness presents a significant upside, making them a popular choice in specific applications.

Third-Generation Types of Solar Panels

Third-generation solar panels encapsulate various thin-film technologies, predominantly in the experimental or developmental stage.

These innovative solar panel types derive power from organic materials or inorganic substances, like CdTe.

Biohybrid Solar Cell

Currently under research, the Biohybrid solar cell, conceptualised by specialists at Vanderbilt University, holds promising prospects.

This technology seeks to mimic the natural photosynthesis process by utilising photosystem 1.

This approach potentially amplifies the conversion efficacy from chemical to electrical energy by up to 1000 times compared to first-generation solar panels. To delve deeper into its workings, refer to the comprehensive study published in the American Journal of Optics and Photonics.

Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell (CdTe)

CdTe stands out within the diverse array of solar panels due to its cost-effectiveness and expedited payback period, usually under a year.

Notably, it demands minimal water usage among solar technologies, promising a reduced carbon footprint.

However, the toxicity of Cadmium Telluride, particularly if ingested or inhaled, poses significant barriers, especially amidst the environmental concerns prevailing in Europe.

Concentrated PV Cell (CVP and HCVP)

These multi-junction types of solar panels offer an impressive efficiency rate of up to 41%, marking the pinnacle in photovoltaic systems. They convert solar energy into electricity, akin to traditional PV systems.

Concentrated Solar Cell

What distinguishes CVP cells from other types of solar panels is their sophisticated design, integrating curved mirrors, lenses, and occasionally cooling systems to concentrate solar rays, thereby enhancing efficiency.

This technique elevates CVP cells to the zenith of efficiency in the solar panel spectrum, boasting up to 41% performance rates.

However, their efficacy is contingent on their alignment with the sun, necessitating a solar tracker to maintain an optimal angle for sun exposure, hence optimising efficiency rates.

Get a Free Quote

Ready to harness the power of the sun? Get a free quote today for solar panel installation in your home and take the first step towards energy independence!