Solar panels can be a great addition to most homes. Not only do they help the environment more than standard electricity, but they can provide you with lower energy bills and reduce your dependency on the grid in the case of a blackout or brownout in your area.
While it’s hard to be environmentally friendly one hundred percent of the time because sometimes you just need private airport transportation services instead of ridesharing with strangers, you can take steps like installing solar panels at your home. But before you take the plunge, you have to first decide which solar panels are right for your home.
There are four kinds of solar panels for homes, with different pros and cons that might help you decide which one works best for your home needs.
Monocrystalline panels are considered one of the most effective solar panels out there for residential use. They work by using specially grown silicon and cutting it into an octagonal cell shape. Octagonal cells are used in order to maximize space and efficiency. They also can handle heat well, so they work in hotter areas.
While these panels are more efficient, that efficiency comes at a cost. Usually, the price is higher per watt than with thin-film and polycrystalline solar panels. They are a great option if you have minimal space, need a lot of power, or can afford the extra cost.
Generally, monocrystalline panels can have an efficiency of somewhere between 15% and 24%. They usually also cost somewhere between $1 and $1.50 per watt.
Monocrystalline panels are also less environmentally friendly than some of the other solar panels, though they are still better than traditional electricity. Since the silicon is specifically made for the panels, and they have to be cut to size, there is a lot of waste in the production.
Monocrystalline panels last about the same time as the other common residential solar panels, which is about 25 to 30 years.
Polycrystalline panels are similar to monocrystalline panels; however, they have a few key differences. The first is the silicon they use. Where monocrystalline panels have silicon grown specifically for them to have one full cell, polycrystalline takes the scraps of silicon and melts them together to create the cell.
This reduces the cost of investing in panels since the silicon used to make the panels is a lot cheaper. However, by not having a single piece of silicon as the cell, the efficiency decreases. Their cheap cost per watt makes them ideal for people who want solar power, don’t want to spend a lot of money, and have plenty of space.
You can expect polycrystalline panels to last around 25 to 30 years. Their efficiency is between 13% and 16% on average. Their price is often below a dollar per watt.
PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact) solar panels are technically a type of monocrystalline panel. They can also be a type of polycrystalline panels. They are said to have higher efficiency and higher theoretical efficiency, which may make them the go-to panels in the future for all uses. Already, they make up about 60% of all solar panels.
Currently, they are the most efficient of all residential-use solar panels. This makes them the best option for limited space or if you need a lot of power. They are slightly more expensive than monocrystalline panels. This is because they aren’t their own solar panels but an added layer to normal solar panels.
Since PERC panels are just a type of polycrystalline or monocrystalline panels, it is hard to determine their price per watt. However, it is good to estimate that they will be on the high end for whatever crystalline type you choose. So for monocrystalline panels, they will be around $1.50, and for polycrystalline, they are closer to $1. Their efficiency is around 22% to 25% on average.
Though they use different methods and materials than standard solar panels, they can be set up in the same way, so most installers can still handle PERC panels. They don’t reduce lifespan either, and these solar panels can last 25 to 30 years.
They have been around since the late 1980s but only recently have become a major part of the residential industry due to the degradation of power when oxygen and silicon mix. It was a problem for all solar panels, but especially PERC cells. Thankfully, there are now standard ways to reduce this effect.
Thin-film solar panels are the cheapest of all residential solar panels. As you might guess, this also means that they have a pretty low-efficiency rate. They are between 7% and 18% efficient, but most tend to be on the lower end. They tend to be under a dollar per watt and have a shorter lifespan, lasting only 10 to 20 years.
They are very thin, less than a micron thick. This means they use less materials, which is what makes them so affordable. However, it isn’t actually the low cost that is their biggest benefit.
Since they are so thin and aren’t installed in a traditional way, with mounts and brackets, they can be put on roofs that don’t have standard shapes, which is necessary for most solar panels. They also work where weight or height is an issue, such as the roofs of RVs or camper vans. They weigh about 100 times less than other solar panels, so you can get a lot more power with a lot less weight if you have the space.