Solar panels come in different types. Each type with its unique set of advantages and maybe, disadvantages.

It is important to know the different types of solar panels because your choice will determine cost and amount of roof space your solar installation requires.


What is a solar panel?


Solar panels are used to collect solar energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.


A solar panel is composed of individual solar cells. Each solar cell is made from layers of silicon, boron and phosphorus.

The boron layer provides the positive charge, the phosphorus layer provides the negative charge, and the silicon wafer acts as the semiconductor.


When the sun’s photons strike the surface of the panel, it knocks out electrons from the silicon “sandwich” and into the electric field generated by the solar cells. This results in a directional current, which is then harnessed into usable power.


The entire process is called the photovoltaic effect, which is why solar panels are also known as photovoltaic panels or PV panels. A typical solar panel contains 60, 72 or 90 individual solar cells.


Types of solar panel


There are three main types of solar panels that are commercially available. They include:

• monocrystalline solar panels
• polycrystalline solar panels
• thin-film solar panels


Monocrystalline solar panels


Monocrystalline solar panels are the most popular solar panels used in rooftop solar panel installations today.


Monocrystalline solar panels have unique features considered better than the other two types of panels. They are as follows:


•The pyramid pattern of the cells offers a larger surface area to collect more energy from the sun’s rays.


• The cells are coated with silicon nitride to reduce reflection and thereby increase absorption.


• The produced electricity is collected through metal conductors printed onto the cells.


• It has higher efficiency of conversion of solar energy into electric energy than its two other counterparts.


• These panels have longevity up to 30 years.


• These panels exhibit greater heat resistance.


Applications


Because of their many advantages, monocrystalline solar panels can be used as follows:


• Can be used as solar rooftops in urban and rural areas.


• These panels are highly recommended for solar applications on a larger scale – on vast tracts of uncultivable land.


• These panels are also useful for residential and commercial applications.


• These panels are extremely useful in lighting up gardens.

• These panels can form an array and used to power rural homes.


• These panels are perfect for street lighting as stand-alone panels.


Polycrystalline solar panels


Polycrystalline solar panels are solar panels that consist of several crystals of silicon in a single PV cell.


Features of polycrystalline solar panels include:


• Polycrystalline solar panels have lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline panels. So, at higher temperatures, these solar panels have lower efficiency than others.


• Polycrystalline solar panels have a higher temperature coefficient than monocrystalline panels.


• These panels have a high power density.


• They come with a structural frame of their own which makes mounting cheaper and simpler.


Application of polycrystalline solar panels:


• They can be used in large solar farms.


• They are suitable for roof mounted arrays.


• They are used in self-powered devices such as traffic lights, and off-grid households.


Thin film solar panels


A thin-film solar panel is made up of one or more thin layers of photovoltaic materials that are laid onto a substrate.


Features of thin film solar panel:


• They are more flexible and light weight


• Installation is much easier than the others


• These solar panels are most suitable for applications with large rooftops or wide open spaces.


Application of thin film solar panels


• They can be used in solar farms


• They can be used to power traffic lights and street lights.


• They can be installed in large-sized steel water tanks to provide electricity for pumping water.


Conclusion


Solar panels come in three main different types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film solar panel.

Knowing the difference between each of them helps you in making the right choice during solar panel installations.

Solar panel systems can last for years even with limited maintenance checkups. However, a little knowledge on solar power maintenance can go a long way because regular checkups will save you costly repairs down the road, and keep your panels looking nice and shiny.

Solar panels are exceptionally easy to care for. They’re made out of tempered glass, which holds up well in tough conditions, and there aren’t any moving parts. It’s also not a bad idea to be well versed with each solar component in order to maintain your solar panel system.

Thinking about ways to maintain your solar panels?

We have listed three easy steps to on how to care for your solar panels below. Let’s go!

How To Maintain Your Solar Panels In 3 Easy Steps

1. Clean regularly

In places that experience regular rainy seasons, solar panels do not need to be cleaned too often. The occasional rain will take care of any dust, or snow (if experienced) will melt faster on the panels than it will on the rest of the roof.  

However, it’s a good idea every few months to glance at the panels and make sure there is no residual dirt, dust or leaves. If there is, a light rinsing off with a hose should take care of the problem.

It is not advisable to get on the roof to clean the panels. If there is a serious dirt buildup, consider investing in a long-handled broom or hose. If there’s a buildup of leaves, consider using a roof rake to take care of this problem.

Read Also: Why Is Solar Power Important?

2. Do a regular checkup with a solar monitoring device

Solar monitoring makes certain that your solar panels are working properly by tracking the power output of your system. With solar monitoring, you gain 24/7 peace of mind that your panels are working as efficiently as possible.

This helps you know when to carry out cleaning and general maintenance of the panel to increase efficiency.

3. Employ the services of a professional

Cleaning solar panels is an uncomplicated procedure that you can take care of just as well as a professional. If you have a small installation, it pays off to clean it on your own because the cost of professional cleaning would exceed the estimated energy gain associated with clean solar panels.

Also, you can also ask your solar installer to clean your panels while he is performing routine technical maintenance. He can execute this task in complete security.

Conclusion

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance in order to function. The only thing they need is a periodic light cleaning, routine checkups or employing a professional to do the work.