Solar Panels,Which solar panel to chooseTo better understand what solar energy is, especially as it relates to photovoltaics, the solar panel is a fundamental element. Not all photovoltaic solar panels are the same, nor do they work with the same performance. Let's see in detail How a solar panel works
A solar panel or photovoltaic panel is the most common element used to harness solar energy and convert it into electrical energy. They are also commonly known as solar panels. They are formed by a set of photovoltaic cells that are responsible for producing electricity through the light that falls on them thanks to the photovoltaic effect.
Due to all the advantages of using renewable energies such as solar energy, the consumption of these photovoltaic panels has skyrocketed. It is increasingly common to find them in different homes or industries. They are quite representative for its shape and usually, by the area of the house where it is located, can be easily recognized. All this proliferation has contributed to the existence of different types of photovoltaic panels on the market. Each one has different characteristics. However, as different as these types we are going to see below are, they have in common the use of some variation of silicon. This amount of silicon is usually more common in panels for domestic use.
The difference between the types that we find will depend on the purity of the silicon. Thus, the purer the silicon, the better aligned its molecules will be and the more efficient it will be at converting the solar energy it receives into electricity. For this reason, the purer the silicon, the more efficient the panel, but it is also more expensive. We are going to see the different types of solar panels that we can find.
Types of photovoltaic panelsRegarding the different types of photovoltaic panels that we can find, we have to highlight the monocrystalline panel, the polycrystalline module and the amorphous silicon panel, also known as thin film. Each of these types of solar panels are part of the photovoltaic energy and are used to generate electricity both grid-connected and isolated. Each type has certain characteristics that we must know when choosing one, depending on the final decision of the factors you consider most important. Let's see a little more detail of each of them:
The name of this type of panel is indicative of it. In this case we are dealing with a panel that is composed of several monocrystalline cells. These cells can be differentiated at a glance by their black color and by their chamfered corners.
These monocrystalline panels are the most efficient of all the panels we are going to talk about. Due to the high performance they offer, they are usually in high demand. They are manufactured by wafer cutting an ingot of a single silicon crystal. Through this process, we can understand the purity of its silicon and it is for this reason, the performance of the same. This high performance makes it one of the most expensive panels we can buy.
Polycrystalline photovoltaic modules
It happens the same as with the previous model, since as its name indicates, the polycrystalline modules are composed of polycrystalline cells. In this case, instead of differentiating them by the black color, they have a bluish color and, unlike the previous model, they do not have a chamfer on the corners.
During the manufacturing process, silicon wafers are also used as substrates. Compared to the previous monocrystalline model, these cells come from a block of silicon that has been allowed to solidify slowly in a crucible, so that it is made up of several small silicon crystals.
This has its good and bad sides. The good part is that it is a much more economical process, as it is cheaper. On the other hand, it is not as efficient as the previous model. This process allows it to be the most accessible panel, placing it at a lower price.
Amorphous silicon panels
This type of solar panel is somewhat less common and are also known as thin film. Although the operation of the photovoltaic cell with which they have is the same as in the previous models, it has a quite different elaboration.
In this sense, the manufacturing process is much simpler and can be easily automated. In addition, it has the advantage that it needs little active material. In addition, it is quite easy to make flexible modules, which makes it much more adaptable.
Despite all these advantages, especially in its manufacture, the silicon used is of poor quality and as we have seen above, this affects the efficiency of the panel. Thus, being a less efficient panel, it ends up having much less impact today despite being one of the cheapest prices on the market.
Which solar panel has the best performance?
As we have already mentioned, the solar panel that offers the highest performance is the one made up of monocrystalline cells. However, it should also be noted that the polycrystalline type module has a better temperature performance than the monocrystalline one. This is because the performance of solar panels is affected by various factors, including operating temperature. One of the parameters to take into account when buying a photovoltaic panel is the power loss due to temperature guaranteed by the manufacturer, and in this case, this percentage of loss is lower for polycrystalline panels.
What is the price of a solar panel?
The price of a solar panel depends on several factors. The first of them, as we have already mentioned, is the type of module we choose to install. Following this criterion, the monocrystalline photovoltaic panel is the most expensive, followed by the polycrystalline and the amorphous silicon panel in last place.
On the other hand, we must pay attention to the power of the solar panel. There are panels of different powers, which are directly linked to their output voltage (for example 12V or 24V). The higher the power required in the panel, the higher the price will be.
Which solar panel to choose?
As you can see, the higher the performance of a solar panel, the higher the price, but nevertheless, the more effective it ends up being. In this sense, we have to take into account several factors when choosing one of these panels for our home.
First of all, we have to take into consideration the amount of them we need. If we have a large area or we want to have a significant amount of electricity, it is likely that we need to buy a larger number of panels to get all the electricity we want. In this sense, it is clear that monocrystalline panels are the ones that will give us more performance, but also the ones that will suppose the initial investment much higher.
Polycrystalline panels are a little less efficient, but also make their price much more sensitive. It is a good option if we want to cover large areas and do not want to spend a lot of money as with the monocrystalline.
Finally the amorphous ones, they can serve us perfectly as a small complement due to the little efficiency that they can contribute us but also to the little expense that they are going to make us. In short, many factors can influence the purchase of a solar panel. So it is important to take into account all these aspects before making our decision and above all to be clear at all times what we are looking for and what we intend to obtain with our purchase.
It should also be taken into account that the performance of the panels decreases over the years. Therefore, when designing the installation, this fact must be taken into account in the long term.
How long does a solar panel last?
The lifetime of a solar panel guaranteed by the manufacturer is usually 25 years. In other words, there is a guarantee that the photovoltaic module will work during this period, although the performance will progressively decrease over time. This progressive yield depends on what is guaranteed by each manufacturer, although it is usually around 0.7%.