If you are interested in solar panels to install in your home you must first know what are the types of solar panels to determine which one suits you.



An important option when installing solar panels is the choice of the type of solar panel. And this choice is more than photovoltaic or thermal solar panels. Here you can compare the types of solar panels.

Choose solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or solar thermal panels.

This is where the biggest difference lies: solar thermal panels transfer  solar heat to a liquid  and photovoltaic solar panels convert  sunlight into electricity  . Actually, they are two very different products.

When talking about solar panels, one usually means the latter:  photovoltaic solar panels  . Solar thermal panels are more often known as  solar collectors  . 

A circuit known here is the  solar water heater  . Solar collectors or solar thermal panels are mainly used to  heat water  for domestic use (shower, bath, etc.) or heating (underfloor heating, …)


The big difference is that a thermal solar panel achieves an efficiency of more than 60% compared to 15 to 25% of photovoltaic solar panels. 

If you want to use solar panels mainly for  hot water  or  heating  , then look at solar thermal panels and their advantages.

 Otherwise, we recommend  photovoltaic solar panels anyway.

If you search, you will also find solar panels that  combine both technologies called hybrid solar panels  . You have to be satisfied with less efficiency in both areas, but the total efficiency is greater.

What types of photovoltaic solar panels (VP ​​solar panels) choose?


The differences in the  types of solar panels  can almost be seduced by the type of solar cell. If you choose a PV solar panel in Flanders, they choose one of the following:

  • Monocrystalline silicon solar cells.
  • Polycrystalline silicon solar cells.
  • Amorphous silicon solar cells
  • Thin film solar cells
  • Cigarette panels

Monocrystalline silicon solar cells



A rod with a crystal tip is placed in molten silicon and then this rod rises slowly in a rotating manner. The molten silicon takes the crystalline structure from that point while it is removed from the container. The rod is cut into slices. 

These slices are circular and, therefore, can not cover the entire solar cell. The corners of the cell are not filled. This type of solar cell has an efficiency of 15% and the  performance is slightly higher than that of polyethylene solar panels  . These panels are a bit  more expensive than poly solar panels .

The monocristlinos solar panels are usually colored  black  .

Polycrystalline silicon solar cells



These solar cells are manufactured by pouring liquid silicon into a square mold. This production process is simpler and  cheaper than with single-crystal  solar cells   . 

By allowing the molds to cool slowly and steadily, it is brought to a solid form. The unstructured melting points give dark spots because the crystals do not connect well, the efficiency is lower than with a single crystal. 

Through assembly, there may be more solar cells in a panel and, therefore, the loss is compensated to a large extent.

Polycrystalline solar panels are usually  colored  blue  .

Amorphous silicon solar cells: intermediate step for thin film solar cells

Amorphous silicon solar cells do not have a crystalline structure where mono and polycrystalline silicon solar cells have. 

The  efficiency  of amorphous silicon solar panels is much  lower than the previous types  . 7% is common and 10% is a rarity. Why have these solar panels already been chosen? Because they are extremely light and flexible. 

For poor roofs or roofs that can not support much weight, this is a better solution than any solar panel. Actually, these panels are more likely to occur in projects where there is a large surface area. Less with individuals.

Thin film solar cells



This is actually an old technology with a new look. The calculators were already equipped with this type of solar cells in the 1980s. 

When the other two types are formed from crystalline silicon, the thin film panels consist of a glass or other substrate material on which a photovaluate active layer is deposited. 

This ensures that they are extremely light and thin. Hence its name. Like amorphous silicon solar cells, thin film has lower efficiency, but is more economical if observed by watt efficiency. Back, the place plays an important role.

CIG (S) panels (copper, indium, gallium, selenide): the next generation

Let’s start with the  benefits  of the CIGs:

  • 60% less production steps required than silicon
  • only 5% of the required semiconductors compared to silicon
  • does not contain heavy metals
  • use a broader spectrum (provide power in more circumstances)
  • have a uniform color (usually black)
  • It can be used as a facade cladding (vertical installation).

The disadvantage  is that these panels still have a  low efficiency  , sometimes only 150 Wp and a crystalline silicon, sometimes more than 270 Wp. Here it is also advisable to assume that a large area is needed to achieve the same performance. 

It is assumed that CIG or CIGS  replace  the  solar panels of crystalline silicon  in the future  ,  but until then we recommend comparison.

 It’s nice to be one of the first with beautiful and profitable panels, but especially think about what works in your home. It may be a better solution to work first with 15 to 20 crystalline silicon panels

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