1. Monocrystalline solar panelsMonocrystalline solar panels are the most popular solar panels used in rooftop solar panel installations today.
Monocrystalline silicon solar cells are manufactured using something called the Czochralski method, in which a ‘seed’ crystal of silicon is placed into a molten vat of pure silicon at a high temperature.
This process forms a single silicon crystal, called an ingot, that is sliced into thin silicon wafers which are then used in the solar modules.
Bifacial solar panels, another monocrystalline technology, can generate electricity on both the front and back sides of a module and are gaining traction in commercial ground-mounted applications.
2. Polycrystalline panelsPolycrystalline panels, sometimes referred to as ‘multi-crystalline panels’, are popular among homeowners looking to install solar panels on a budget.
Similar to monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels are made of silicon solar cells. However, the cooling process is different, which causes multiple crystals to form, as opposed to one.
Polycrystalline panels used in residential homes usually contain 60 solar cells.
3. Thin filmThin film solar cells are mostly used in large-scale utility and industrial solar installations because of their lower efficiency ratings.
Thin film solar panels are made by depositing a thin layer of a photovoltaic substance onto a solid surface, like glass. Some of these photovoltaic substances include Amorphous silicon (a-Si), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), and cadmium telluride (CdTe). Each of these materials creates a different ‘type’ of solar panel, however, they all fall under the thin film solar cell umbrella.
During the manufacturing process, the photovoltaic substance forms a thin lightweight sheet that is, in some cases, flexible.