Different types of Solar Panels

Alright party people let’s talk about the basic types of solar panels and how they’re used…

Monocrystalline silicon (mono-silicon or single silicon)


Right now, these are the most efficient type of solar panels. In other words, when sunlight hits these puppies, more of it turns into electricity than the other types below. As a result of their high silicon content, they’re also more expensive, but you need fewer of them. That’s why they’re ideal for roofs. You can tell if you have a monocrystalline solar panel by its square-ish cells.

Polycrystalline silicon (multicrystalline, multi-silicon, ribbon)

“Poly” panels have lower silicon levels than “mono” panels. In general, that makes them less expensive to produce, but they’re also slightly less efficient. The good news is that their overall construction design can often make up for the efficiency loss, so they’re also good for roofs. You can tell poly-silicon panels by their groovy mélange of silicon woven through thin rectangular conduit wires.
Thin film (amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium (di)selenide)
Everyone talks about “thin film” because they’re really inexpensive to make and they don’t mind the heat, which is all cool. Except right now, they’re very inefficient, which means you’ll see them in big solar farm projects with a lot of land, but not on your roof.

BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics)


BIPV’s can look like real roofing tiles (solar shingles are an example). That’s nice, but good looks do cost a lot more. Second, they’re way less efficient than conventional PV, which means you need a sunny spacious roof to make a dent in your electric bill. Finally, they may not last as long as regular panels. Right now, doesn’t contract for BIPV systems.

Solar hot water (thermal) panels

Finally, there’s another type of panel that has nothing to do with electricity. Instead of paying the gas company to heat your hot water tank, solar thermal panels produce hot water for your home and/or your pool. Some systems can even provide heat and air conditioning too. currently doesn’t offer solar thermal deals. More information: Solar Hot Water vs Solar PV.

By Dave Llorens