Are you planning to install solar panels and want to know how to go about the types? Well, if you answered the question with a nod, this article is for you. Summers might be taking off for now, but they’ll be back before you know it. And, who even wants the expensive electricity bills being slapped in their faces? Yes, indeed, no one does.

Solar Panels benefit you by saving bills on electricity while also working for the environment. Name a better combination? None, right? The Solar Trade Association has reported that, as of 2021, nearly 900,000 of all the UK households depend on solar energy for their energy needs, and the number is substantially increasing. Furthermore, In 2020, the UK topped FDI’s table that ranked the top European locations for renewable energy.

If you too would like to benefit from the same, keep reading and find out about different types of Solar Panels and which one would suit your needs the best. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What Is a Solar Panel?

Before jumping into the complexities, types and features of solar panels, let’s understand what solar panels are. Sun is the best natural source of energy. Solar panels are rectangular (or any other shape) sheets that convert sunlight into electrical energy.

Now, if you are wondering how this happens, here’s how. Solar energy or sunlight comprises photons, and photons can efficiently be utilised to power electricity.

The converted energy can later be used for a wide range of tasks from plugins for various sources, personal and commercial energy usage, and so much more. Also known as photovoltaics, solar panels can also facilitate remote areas with electricity and energy.

Types of Solar Panels

There are four main types of solar panels, varying in appearance, overall performance, cost-effectiveness, and the installation process to determine if the solar panel meets the requirements. This comprehensive guide will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of all three main types of solar panels.

The three main types of solar panels include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. To get an insight into the four types, read on!

Major Types of Solar Panels

Solar Panel TypeProsCons
MonocrystallineHigh efficiency, long-lasting and performanceExpensive
PolycrystallineBudget-friendlyWorkable efficiency and performance
Thin-filmPortable and flexibleWorkable efficiency and performance

Monocrystalline Solar Panel

The first type of solar panel has to be the most familiar one, Monocrystalline Solar Panel. These solar panels are made of soft, pure silicon crystals. Thus, it is slightly on the expensive side. Furthermore, to ensure that the solar panel appears to be closely knit, wafers are assembled into rows and columns to form a rectangle, covered with a glass sheet and put together into a frame.

Monocrystalline Solar PanelOnly the monocrystalline is made from pure silicone, making them stand out as their dark black colour can easily identify them. Furthermore, since silicon is much more durable and long-lasting than any other material, monocrystalline is the most efficient and long-lasting among all three solar panel types.

The only demerit of monocrystalline cells has to be the fact that they are slightly more expensive than others. Also, silicon is an important factor when buying a monocrystalline, which can range as high as 50% to be accurate. The best part is that the monocrystalline solar panels have many benefits:

  • High-efficiency rate, over 20%
  • High power output
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Can withstand high temperatures

Monocrystalline Solar Panel Appearance

Monocrystalline panels are black cells you often see around since they are the most commonly used solar panels. This doesn’t mean that the Monocrystalline Solar Panel comes only in black colour. Black is the colour of the cell. You can buy the sheets and the frames in several colours. However, the back sheet comes in options like silver, white and black, while frames are black or silver. And lastly, The pure silicon crystal makes the cells seem black due to light interactions with crystals.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels Efficacy

The efficacy of monocrystalline solar panels is the best and highest as compared to others. With an efficacy rate of 20%, the results provided by these solar panels remain surpassing to date. Furthermore, monocrystalline also comes with a better wattage, the average wattage being around 300w to 400w (watts). This rate and wattage also allow monocrystalline to generate more power. Monocrystalline solar panels have 60 cells and 72-96 cell variants, another reason behind their potential to produce more electricity than Polycrystalline and Thin-film.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels Cost

Monocrystalline Solar Panels are more on the pricey side as compared to other panels. The reason is the time-taking manufacturing process and, of course, the pure crystals of silicon that add to its efficiency and performance. Furthermore, the Czochralski process is used to sieve out the impure ones to extract the most refined quality of silicon crystals. The leftover ones are later used in the manufacturing of polycrystalline.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Next up, the polycrystalline solar panels. As you might have figured, the name itself defines that these solar panels are made of different silicon crystals instead of one. The silicon pieces are melted down to liquids and later poured into square moulds as per the requirements.

Polycrystalline Solar PanelThis is why Polycrystalline Solar Panels cost much less than monocrystalline since there is absolutely zero wastage of any materials, especially silicon. But, again, every positive attribute has a negative side, and so does this.

Since the silicon fragments are impure, the polycrystalline panels are less efficient and have significantly lesser heat tolerance than the monocrystalline ones. Also, if you love some colours, Polycrystalline Solar panels come in all sorts of colours. However, they are still the best in warm surroundings and high-temperature environments.

  • Efficiency is pegged at 15%
  • Less costly than Mono-SI panels

Polycrystalline Solar Panels Appearance

The blue coloured cells you see are the Polycrystalline Solar Panels. This is because the light reflecting way for a Polycrystalline Solar Panel is slightly different from that of a monocrystalline. Another reason behind the bluish tones is the impure crystal fragments of silicon, which are pure in monocrystalline. Like monocrystalline, polycrystalline panels come with colour options for back sheets and frames, usually silver, white and black.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels Efficacy

The efficacy of polycrystalline solar panels is only second to monocrystalline. With an efficacy rate of 17%, the Polycrystalline solar panels provide users with decent results. In terms of wattage, Polycrystalline panels are not as good as monocrystalline panels, but they are workable at 100w to 400w. An adequate rate and wattage allow Polycrystalline panels to generate ample power. Similar to Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline solar panels also have 60 cells and 72-96 cell variants. Although the electricity produced is fair, the potential is not as satisfying as the Monocrystalline solar panels.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels Cost

Polycrystalline solar panels are decently priced. So, yes, they won’t burn holes in your pockets. Furthermore, polycrystalline solar panels cost less because these are created from the fragments and remains of the sieved out silicon crystals, eventually reducing the manufacturing cost, thus inexpensive.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

Thin-Film Solar PanelThin-film solar panels are produced by putting together multiple photovoltaic films onto a base. Their advantages notwithstanding, the issue with thin-film solar panels is that they take up a lot of space, making them unsuitable as solar panels for your home.

There are many benefits that thin-film solar panels bring to the table, such as:

  • Easy production
  • Cost-effective
  • Not ideal for residential use
  • Perform well under high temperatures

Furthermore, these thin-film solar panels are incredibly flexible and lightweight, making installing much easier and less laborious than the traditional silicon solar panels. In addition to this, the thin-film solar panels contain a minimum quantity of silicon compared to that caused consequently after Solar panels.

Thin-film solar panels Appearance

As the name suggests, these solar panels are considerably thin compared to the others. Perhaps this is why they are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels, whose cells are thicker. However, buying a thin-film solar panel doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a thin solar panel since the frames are usually the same regardless of the solar panel type. And finally, if you are someone who prioritises appearance over efficacy, Thin-film Solar Panels are the best for you; they are sleek and so well designed to beautify your space.

Thin-film Solar Panels Efficacy

The stellar feature about the Thin-film solar panel is that it is temperature coefficient. To break it down, when the temperature of a solar panel rises, the solar panel tends to produce a lesser amount of electricity, which means the temperature for monocrystalline and polycrystalline falls about -0.3% to -0.5% per °C.

However, Thin-film solar panels notice a decrease of just -0.2% per °C. Thus, Thin-film panels are more efficient at handling heat than other panel types. However, their warranty span is considerably shorter, making them highly inappropriate for long-term usage.

Thin-film Solar Panels Cost

The cost for thin-solar panels is not defined. Meaning, it depends on the type and quality of the film. However, installing Thin-films costs much less labour-intensive than monocrystalline and polycrystalline because of its sleek design and lightweight build. All this eventually cuts down the cost.

What Are Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) Solar Panels?

PERC solar panels are an improvement of an already existing type of solar panels. Old models usually are filled with shortcomings and minor problems. Thus new models are made to revamp the existing features and some latest tweaks and touches to ensure a smooth user experience.

Types of Solar PanelsThe PERC Solar panels, for example, are much more efficient than monocrystalline solar panels since they reflect the light into the cell, amplifying the number of solar radiations getting absorbed. In addition to this, it also allows greater wavelengths of light to be reflected. However, silicon is not capable of absorbing lightwaves over 1180nm. Subsequently, they end up having a metal gook sheet, reducing its efficiency. PERC has proved beneficial, and it is for all the right reasons.

This is an old cell model, but the current trends have revived it. Meaning, now Passivated Emitter and Rear Cells (PERC) are again being used in solar panels.

  • Much more efficient
  • Absorbs radiation up to 1180 nm
  • Absorbs much more radiation than traditional models

Which Companies Manufacture Solar Panels in the UK?

The manufacturers of Solar Panels are increasing with the skyrocketing demands as climate change takes over. However, the leading solar panel manufacturers are based outside the UK, primarily in Asia and European countries like Germany and Austria.

There are some reliable manufacturers in the UK as well. Most manufacturers in the UK import the cells for solar panels and assemble them in the borders later. If you are looking for manufacturers in the UK, here are the options.

  • Viridian Solar: Viridian Solar is a trusted name that fulfils all your solar panel requirements. The company comes from the Cambridge manufacturers and offer quality service from time of purchase to installation.
  • GB-SoI: Another trusted name, standing strong over the past 20 years. GB-Sol is one of the few companies that manufactures its photovoltaic panels for off-grid systems and covers residential and commercial installations.
  • Romag: If you are looking for a well-established name, a brand that you can blindly rely on, Romag it is. Based in England, the company has been in existence for over 78 years. They deal in all kinds of solar panel products and BIPVs.
  • Solarcentury: Based in the heart of England, London. Solarcentury deals in solar tiles (C21e) and BIPVs. If you need any of the two, look no further.

Other mentions for Solar Panel Manufacturers in the UK: AES Solar, Polysolar, SunSolar Energy and Solution are the other big names that headline the solar panel manufacturing scene in the UK.

For installing solar panels at your residence or office building, make sure only to contact credible and reliable solar panel installers. In this way, your household will become eligible for the UK government’s feed-in tariff income scheme.

What Solar Panel Type Is the Most Suitable for You?

You would not be going around purchasing and installing solar panels now and then. Thus, you must select the most suitable option according to the size and requirements of your property. All three types have their pros and cons. Therefore, it becomes critical that you closely understand and analyse your property and expectations from the solar panel.

For instance, if your space is not very big, and your goal is to cut down on your electricity bills, monocrystalline solar panels would be the best. However, installing the thin-oil panel would prove beneficial and cost-effective if you want to install solar panels on a vast commercial site.

Final Thoughts

Solar energy has always remained a popular choice for saving energy because it is achievable and fetches good results. In fact, a report published by the BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker highlighted how 85% of British respondents said that they support solar energy.

There you go, now you know everything about the types of Solar Panels, their efficiency, costs and appearances in detail. To learn more about solar panels related queries, please feel free to reach out to us.