Not all solar panels are alike, and not all types of solar panels are necessarily a good fit for your home.

Before you start your search, it’s important to have a basic understanding of each type of solar panel available and decide which is the best fit for your home.

There are four major types of solar panels to consider:

  • Polycrystalline solar panels
  • Monocrystalline solar panels
  • Solar shingles
  • Thin film solar panels

Greenlife Solar is here to help. We’ve created a quick rundown of each type to help you get an idea of which solar panels you need.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Here’s a quick science lesson:

Solar panels are made of crystalline silicon, the semiconductive material that gives them their photovoltaic qualities. This crystalline silicon can exist either in a polycrystalline form (made up of many small crystals) or monocrystalline form (a single continuous crystal).

So, what’s the difference?

Because each polycrystalline cell contains many crystals, the electrons in a polycrystalline panel have less freedom to move. This matters because it means electric current can’t move through the panel as efficiently.

Polycrystalline is the original solar panel technology. As a result, polycrystalline solar panels aren’t quite as advanced as monocrystalline panels, but they’re usually cheaper.

While the efficiency of solar panels sounds pretty critical, it’s really just relative to your situation. If you live in an area where your roof is slightly shaded or the climate isn’t ideal for generating solar power, you might need all the efficiency you can get.

If, however, you live in a great solar area or don’t need to generate as much energy in general, the lower price tag definitely might be worth it.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Unlike polycrystalline panels, monocrystalline solar panels are made up of solar cells made from single-crystal silicon, giving the electrons more room to flow.

Because they’re newer, monocrystalline panels are often thought of as a more premium solar panel technology, with higher efficiency and a sleeker design.

While monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels work the same way, their subtle difference results in different levels of efficiency, and a different appearance.

When comparing monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline, consider efficiency level, aesthetic quality, and price tag.

Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are a newer type of solar panel that’s gaining popularity across the country.

The biggest aversion some homeowners have to solar is the appearance of solar panels on their homes. Solar shingles offer a solution. They have the appearance and durability of typical asphalt shingles.

They also protect your home the same way normal shingles would. Each shingle can produce anywhere from 13 - 63 watts of energy.

While solar shingles might be appealing to some homeowners, it’s important to mention that this option can be pretty pricey in comparison to the other types.

Thin Film Solar Panels

Another newer option on the market, thin film solar panels are essentially just thin layers of semiconductive material rolled out as a thin film across a surface.

While these panels are typically less efficient than crystalline panels, they’re generally inexpensive and flexible.

However, they also require more roof space and usually don’t last as long as other options.

If the price tags on other types of solar panels are holding you back, or if you don’t like the look of typical solar panels, this might be a good option for you.

Keep in mind: Solar panel type is not the only decision you’ll need to make, you’ll also need to choose a solar inverter.

While most installers will be able to help you with your decision, let’s take a moment to go over the 3 types of solar inverters.

Types of Solar Inverters

Here are your 3 basic options when it comes to solar inverters:

  • Microinverters
  • Power Optimizers
  • Central / String

Microinverters convert DC to AC within each panel, giving them added efficiency.

Power optimizers work similarly to microinverters but they add another step. As power leaves each cell, it undergoes conditioning, giving them even higher efficiency.

String inverters are the most common type of solar inverter, and they also have the lowest cost. These inverters are perfect for well-lit roofs with a flat plane.

Key Takeaways

As much as I wish I could just rank the 4 types of solar panels for you and give you a clear answer as to which is best, you’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

Each type offers unique advantages and disadvantages. You’ll need to prioritize your needs and wants, then find a solar panel that matches those priorities.

As always, if you need more assistance, check out our free guides and blogs. You’ll be an expert on solar in no time.

Ready to start the search? Greenlife Solar will give you a comprehensive idea of each of the options for solar installation near you.

Get started today to get free quotes on solar installation providers in your area.