Types of Photovoltaic Panels

There are different types of photovoltaic solar panels on the market, each of which has specific characteristics in terms of performance and efficiency. When you decide to install a photovoltaic system it is important not to choose the modules exclusively based on the price, which can be contained thanks to contributions and incentives for photovoltaics, but also taking into account the performance you wish to obtain, the shape of the roof and of the available surface area.

Types of Photovoltaic Panels

For photovoltaics, different types of panels lead to different yields, a greater predisposition to certain types of installation (for example in confined spaces) and to certain environmental conditions (the level of efficiency at high and low temperatures changes between the various types of photovoltaic panels). The same goes for the price of the modules, as the different types of photovoltaic panels obviously have different costs.

While waiting for the development of new latest generation photovoltaic panels, such as organic solar panels or those made with nanotechnologies, this guide aims to illustrate the main characteristics of the technologies available on the market, providing useful information for those who want to invest in this green technology consciously. Let’s see all the aspects that distinguish the various types of solar panels for photovoltaics and the differences between each type of module.

How Many Types of Photovoltaic Panels Exist

The main characteristic of photovoltaic modules is that they are capable of transforming sunlight into electricity. This process occurs through “solar grade silicon”, the main material of photovoltaic panels. 

Read more: 4kw Photovoltaic System Price

How Many Types of Photovoltaic Panels Exist
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It is not present in nature in its pure state but is obtained through a complex process that brings it to a degree of purity of up to 99.9% when it becomes in effect a semiconductor. Thanks to the light pulse, in fact, the electrons move inside the silicon cell.

Most photovoltaic panels are based on crystalline silicon, although with different degrees of purity and therefore efficiency. Often, the cost of the panels and cells depends on the purity of the silicon, since the manufacturing processes are complex and expensive. 

The types of photovoltaic panels that can be installed today for residential use, beyond the different design solutions, are essentially two: monocrystalline silicon panels and polycrystalline silicon panels, although the less used amorphous silicon panels also exist.

Monocrystalline Photovoltaic Panels: Characteristics and Performances

Monocrystalline silicon solar cells are generally uniformly dark in color and composed of silicon wafers, or “slices of material,” on which integrated circuits are built. Among the advantages of this technology is efficiency, since they are generally the best performing among the panels that are installed for residential photovoltaic systems.

Monocrystalline Silicon Cells Ratio Between The Solar Energy 

Monocrystalline silicon cells can in fact count on an efficiency between 19 and 21%, a percentage that represents the ratio between the solar energy absorbed and that which is actually converted into electrical energy. Thanks also to this feature, monocrystalline panels require a reduced amount of space to obtain the desired power compared to modules with a lower level of efficiency.

A monocrystalline panel is generally composed of a variable number between 60 and 72 cells, although the latter configuration is the most common, and is capable of producing a peak power of between 120 and 300 watts. Monocrystalline silicon panels are also very durable, in fact, the useful life of these modules is around 25 years.

Technical Characteristics of Polycrystalline Photovoltaic Panels

Polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic panels began to be installed in the 1980s. The silicon they use is obtained by melting the material and pouring it into square molds, which once cut will be the basis for the panel wafers. It is a simpler and less expensive process than the process from which monocrystalline silicon is obtained, an aspect which is obviously reflected in the price of the panels.

Furthermore, these are cells that tolerate heat and high temperatures well, with an average lifespan of approximately 25 years. Generally, they are little appreciated from an aesthetic point of view due to their patchy blue color. The polycrystalline silicon modules have an average power of 150-180 watts, considering a standard panel measuring 160 x 85 cm, with an efficiency between 16 and 18%.

Amorphous Thin Film Photovoltaic Panels

Amorphous silicon photovoltaic modules are panels made with a single thin film of silicon, deposited on top of a glass or plastic surface. Among the technical characteristics of amorphous silicon photovoltaic solar panels, there is a reduced thickness, furthermore, they can be produced both in the form of a flexible roll and in the classic version with a rigid structure.

These panels are very light and versatile, they have a pleasant aesthetic appearance thanks to the homogeneous black or dark blue color, but with an efficiency of around 6-10% due to the low energy density of this material. Amorphous silicon modules are characterized by low production and therefore purchase cost, with applications, especially in the architectural field.

Difference Between Types of Photovoltaic Panels

Through the analysis of the characteristics of photovoltaic panels, it is possible to determine the most suitable module model for each application. Furthermore, by evaluating all types of photovoltaic solar panels it is possible to distinguish their peculiarities and differences, identify the pros and cons of each solution, and establish the relationship between the costs and the performance of the various photovoltaic solar panels

Here is some useful information considering the main points to evaluate when analyzing modules for a photovoltaic system:

Cost: 

The cheapest panels on the market are those in amorphous silicon, capable of offering a price per watt installed that is up to 30-40% lower than other models. The most expensive modules are those made of monocrystalline silicon, while polycrystalline panels offer a middle ground between the two types.

Efficiency: 

Monocrystalline panels provide the best efficiency, especially when opting for the new generation high-efficiency models, capable of even exceeding 21%. Followed by polycrystalline modules and finally the cheaper amorphous silicon panels.

Occupied Surface Area: 

Obviously, to achieve the same installed power with monocrystalline modules, fewer modules are needed, thanks to the greater energy density and higher performance, while with polycrystalline and amorphous silicon modules it is necessary to consider a higher number of panels and an occupied surface area more extensive.

Performance at high Temperatures: 

Polycrystalline modules are those that best support high temperatures, therefore they are more suitable for geographical areas characterized by a warmer climate and higher temperatures.

Yield at Low Temperatures: 

In these conditions, the best option is represented by monocrystalline panels, since they provide a higher yield in the presence of low temperatures or when the solar intensity is lower.

Reduction in Performance over Time:

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline types of solar panels for photovoltaic have a similar decline in performance, in fact, they lose around 1% of efficiency per year, therefore after 10 years from installation, they offer a yield of around 90%. %. The situation is different with amorphous silicon modules, which can suddenly lose up to 20% of their efficiency, stabilizing around 80%, while after 25 years they generally reach an efficiency of 75% compared to the initial level.

All these aspects must be evaluated with particular attention when designing a residential or commercial photovoltaic system, taking into account the available budget, the geographical area, the space available, and your energy needs. These are complex analyses, which require the support of expert and specialized professionals in the field of photovoltaic and renewable energy technologies.