The Ultimate Guide to Types of Solar Panels

Frequent power outages, high electricity bills, and the growing need for clean and renewable energy are a few reasons that force homeowners to go solar. Solar panels attached to a battery help homeowners use the solar energy, convert it into electricity, and use it to power up appliances per their needs.

Solar panels are an excellent way to power your home, off-grid living and save money, but many types of solar panels available make it hard for them to make a better choice.

types of solar panels

This guide will include everything you need to know, from choosing the right type of solar panels and going "green" to understanding how they work to power your house. Most common solar panels include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. Let us discuss them in detail.

What Is A Solar Panel?

 jackery solarsaga solar panels

Solar panels are photovoltaic or PV cells that absorb sun rays and convert them into electrical energy. The typical solar panel consists of silicon, boron, and phosphorus layers.

The boron layer provides a positive charge, whereas the phosphorus layer provides a negative charge. The internal layer between boron and phosphorus is silicon, which acts as a semiconductor.

The silicon cells release electrons and create an electrical current. The released electrical current stored in the battery is then used to power electrical gadgets and devices during power outages or outdoor adventures.

How Does a Solar Panel Work?

Solar panels are undoubtedly an ideal means to cut connections from the grid and use solar energy. But have you ever thought about how these solar panels work to generate electrical energy and power your entire house?

Solar panels use sunlight as their fuel to generate power/energy. When sunlight strikes the panels, the surface converts the sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are composed of cells that contain electrons. The negative charge of boron and the positive charge of phosphorus creates a magnetic field.

The falling sunlight on the cells destabilizes the electrons and frees up the negatively charged electrons. The movement results in the production of current or electricity. However, this electrical current is not suitable for home appliances. And this is where the role of the solar inverter starts.

The solar inverter converts the produced electricity from DC to AC so you can charge up your appliances.

One important thing to remember is that solar panels only work when they receive direct sunlight. The more peak sunlight it gets, the higher the electricity production. For this reason, a solar panel produces more solar energy during sunny days than on cloudy days.

The Main 4 Types Of Solar Panels

There are four main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, PERC, and thin-film. Depending upon the type of solar cells, the solar panels are categorized into different categories, shown in the table below.

Parameters

Monocrystalline

Polycrystalline

Thin-film

PERC

Cost

High

Medium

Depends on the material

Highest

Efficiency

High

Medium

Low

Most efficient

Appearance

Dark black color cells with octagonal shape

Blue color cells with square edges

Depends on the material

Black color cells with rounded edges

Lifespan

25-40 years

25-35 years

10-20 years

25-30 years

Carbon footprint

Low

38.1 g per kWh

Low

27.2 g per kWh

Lowest

21.4 g per kWh

Low

Advantages

Energy efficient and heat resistant

Affordable and less wastage during manufacturing

Lightweight and low installation cost

Less space requirement and most efficient

Disadvantages

Expensive

Low energy efficiency and low heat resistance

Degrades faster and least efficient

Expensive

Let us discuss the four types of solar panels in detail.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Best known as single-crystal panels, monocrystalline solar panels are made using a pure form of silicon crystals. The crystal is sliced into multiple octagonal-shaped wafers forming cells.

The monocrystalline solar panels are built on the Half Cut cells technology. Within the solar panels, the square-shaped cells are cut to produce twice the number of cells.

The cells in the two halves of the solar panels are connected in two different series, ensuring consistent power generation even if there is a shadow on half panel.

monocrystalline solar panels

Features of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

  • As the monocrystalline type of solar panels is composed of a single silicon crystal, they usually have high conversion rates compared to other panels available.
  • Such types of solar panels are a little more expensive than other types because of the complexity of the single-crystal silicon cell manufacturing process.
  • The solar panel has higher heat resistance than other panels, meaning it can produce more electricity at high temperatures.

Pros

  • They are made of single and highest-grade silicon crystal, making them a highly efficient and popular choice among homeowners.
  • Small monocrystalline solar panels can produce the same electricity as large polycrystalline or thin-film cells.
  • They have the most extended lifespan compared to other types, ensuring you can enjoy solar energy for decades.

Cons

  • One significant downside of the monocrystalline solar panel type is its high initial cost due to the heavy production process involved in manufacturing it.
  • The efficiency of solar panels declines when they get covered in snow, leaves, or dirt.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Also called multi-crystalline panels, these solar panels are typically cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels. This is because silicon fragments manufacture solar cells instead of pure silicon crystals.

A simple manufacturing process reduces the overall cost of the solar panel. However, in terms of space and energy conversion, they are less efficient and have lower heat tolerance.

Features Of Polycrystalline Solar Panels

  • They are formed from multiple silicon crystals, so there is little room for electron movement. That said, solar panels come with lower efficiency.
  • Rather than resembling monocrystalline, these solar panel types have square-shaped cells and straight edges.
  • As less silicon is wasted during the manufacturing of the panels and the manufacturing process is quite simple, these panels are more affordable than other types.

Pros

  • In low-light conditions, polycrystalline crystals are more efficient compared to other types.
  • They are less expensive solutions for homeowners wanting to switch to solar energy.
  • It produces less waste during manufacturing and yields maximum outputs.

Cons

  • They are less long-lasting and durable than other solar panel types.
  • The panels are larger, so they may take up more space at home to produce the same amount of electricity.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

Thin-film solar panels have lower efficiency ratings, so they are usually used in large-scale utility or industrial solar installations.

It is produced by depositing a layer of photovoltaic substance, such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), amorphous silicon (a-Si), or cadmium telluride (CdTe), on glass.

Even though each material creates a different solar panel, they all fall under thin film solar cells.

Features Of Thin-Film Panels

  • The temperature coefficient of the thin-film panels is around - 0.2% per C, meaning they can handle heat better than mono and poly panel types.
  • As they are easier to install without any equipment, the cost of thin-film panels is much lower.
  • Such solar panel types are attractive and have less wiring and busbars.
  • It is often called second-and-third generation solar cells as they're produced by mixing different materials.

Pros 

  • Producing thin-film solar panel typesis faster and simpler than first-generation solar cells, making it cost-effective.
  • It can withstand high temperatures on bright sunny days.
  • It weighs less compared to mono and polycrystalline panels.

Cons

  • Cadmium in CdTe is highly toxic and can harm human health if inhaled or ingested.
  • Some metals found in GaAs, CdTe, and CIGS are rare, making it hard for manufacturers to produce large amounts of thin-film cells.
  • Compared to mono and poly, these solar panels have the lowest lifespan and degrade faster.

PERC Solar Panels

Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC cells) is a new technology that involves adding a passivation layer to the rear cell surface. The latest technology in PERC solar panels increases the amount of absorbed solar radiation by reflecting light back into the cell.

The energy collection is high in PERC panels, so it is ideal for limited space. However, they are a little expensive compared to traditional solar panels.

Features of PERC Solar Panels

  • Due to the preservation layer, these solar panel typesare highly efficient, even more than monocrystalline.
  • They are capable of working well in both high-heat and low-light environments.
  • PERC solar panels allow you to achieve the same power output with fewer panels.

Pros

  • An extra outer layer adds protection and makes them efficient.
  • They have the highest power ratings compared to all other solar panels available.

Cons

  • Compared to traditional panels, PERC panels are slightly more expensive.

Other Types Of Solar Panels

Besides common types of solar panels, there are a few less-known solar panel cells, including:

Bifacial Solar Panels 

As the name suggests, bifacial solar cells can absorb light on both sides and convert it into energy.

The backside of the panel absorbs light that's reflected from the ground. You can consider placing a mirror behind these cells for maximum electricity production.

Studies reveal that bifacial models can produce 10-20% (Data from pv-magazine) more power than traditional or mono-facial panels — however, the efficiency comes at a cost. You have to pay nearly 15% more than mono facial solar panels for higher efficiency and power. 

Transparent Solar Panels 

Unlike solid solar panels, transparent panels are built using see-through quality. It works like a regular panel but has a slight or complete see-through ability.

It's important to note that these solar panels are mostly suited for commercial contexts rather than residential ones. In addition, they are not portable, making them less suitable for outdoor adventurers.

Solar Roof Tiles

Solar tiles and solar roof tiles work on the same concept — they help convert sunlight into electricity. The appealing aesthetic is the only reason people choose solar roof tiles over solar panels.

But before you plan to invest in solar roof tiles, note that they could cost you twice as much as solar panels. Furthermore, they are less efficient when converting sunlight into electricity.

How To Classify The Types Of Solar Panels?

Not all panels are the same when we talk about efficiency, performance, costs, and other factors. Here is how they differ.

Solar Panel Types By Efficiency

Efficiency is one of the most important deciding factors when choosing a solar panel type. Here is how efficiency differs depending on the solar panel you choose.

  • Monocrystalline panels have an efficiency of 20% (higher than all others available, and Jackery solar panel efficiency is at 23%-25%).
  • Polycrystalline panel efficiency lies between 15-17%.
  • PERC panels have the highest efficiency (nearly 15-20% general and 5% extra due to the passivation layer).
  • Thin-film solar panel efficiency lies between 6-15%, depending on the material used.

Solar Panel Types By Capacity

Power capacity depends on how much power the solar panel can produce during peak hours.

 

  • Monocrystalline solar cells have the highest power capacity due to their single-crystal construction. You can expect up to 300W and above power capacity if you choose monocrystalline panels.
  • Polycrystalline gives tough competition to monocrystalline with a power capacity between 240-300W.
  • Like efficiency, thin-film solar panel power capacity depends on the material used and the panel size. Generally, thin films produce less power output than mono and polycrystalline panels.
  • PERC solar panels are more efficient and absorb more sunlight than other types due to their extra layer.

Solar Panel Types By Appearance

Here is the breakdown of how different types of solar panels differ in appearance.

  • Monocrystalline panels come in a solid black appearance and sleek design. The perfect and equal sizes and shapes of solar cells make them look organized and attractive to the eyes.
  • Polycrystalline panels, on the other hand, have a blue-marbled look. Each individual cell or panel will have a different shape than others, making it look disorganized.
  • Thin-film panels have an all-black and clean look with a thin design. The less wiring and busbars make it look uncluttered and sleek.
  • PERC panels have a uniform black shape, which makes them look good.

Solar Panel Types By Cost 

If you are ready to go solar, understanding the cost associated with the solar panel purchase is critical.

  • Monocrystalline panels come with a hefty price tag due to the complex manufacturing process of combining the highest-grade silicon crystal. It could cost you around $1-$2 per watt.
  • Unlike monocrystalline, polycrystalline panels do not use a single pure silicon crystal. Instead, it uses crystal fragments leftovers that lower the production cost. You'll have to pay around $0.70-$1 per watt for multiple crystalline panels.
  • Among all the thin-film solar panels, CIGS is the most expensive, followed by CdTe and a-Si. The lightweight and flexible nature of solar panels reduces labor costs. You'll have to pay nearly $0.43-$70 per watt to get thin-film cells.
  • For PERC, homeowners must pay around $0.32-$0.70 per watt.

Note - This is the general cost estimation for each type. The accurate expense related to the solar panels will depend on other factors such as brand, electricity requirements, size, etc.

How To Choose The Types Of Solar Panels?

Beyond the cost and efficiency of solar panels, a few factors impact the choice of solar panels.

  • Hail Rating

If your home area is prone to hail or snow, it's better to look for a solar panel that can withstand hail hitting without damage. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are manufactured using thick materials. Therefore, they are a reliable choice for homeowners living in hail-prone areas.

  • Light-Induced Degradation (LID)

Light-induced degradation, or LID, is the solar panel degradation that occurs during the first few hours of sun exposure. The higher the LID rate of a solar panel, the lower the quality. Therefore, choosing a solar panel with a LID below 3% is preferable for maximum output.

  • Temperature Coefficient

Electricity generation and the temperature of solar panels are related to each other. Make sure to check the temperature coefficient of the solar panel before making your purchase. It should range between - 0.2% °C to - 0.5% °C, so you get the maximum power output. Jackery solar panels have a good performance in hot and cold weather, the working temperature is -10-65°C (14-149°F). Each time the temperature rises by 1℃, the conversion efficiency still be 28.5% higher than alternatives on the market.

The Best Solar Panels With Jackery

Choosing the right solar panels with lots of options available can be challenging. But not more! Jackery brings you the best solution to harness the sun's power and charge all your electrical gears.

The portable Jackery SolarSaga solar panels are easy to carry and have the highest efficiency of 25%. To maximize electricity production, you can team it up with Jackery rechargeable mobile power stations.

best solar panels with jackery

Below are the three most popular Jackery solar panels available.

Jackery SolarSaga 80W Solar Panel

The dual-sided Jackery SolarSaga 80W panels can generate electricity from both sides. The extra-white glass attached to the back panel boosts the conversion rate. It is IP68 waterproof and dustproof certified, ensuring it can withstand harsh conditions.

  • It is manufactured using 2.8mm low iron full toughened glass, making it immensely durable.
  • The back side panel absorbs the diffused and reflected light to boost 25% of the conversion rate.
  • SolarSaga panels are made using industrial-grade photovoltaic materials and are IEC TS63163 certified.
  • It is highly compatible with all the Jackery power stations and comes with a kickstand that makes installation easy.

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel is best suited for unexpected power outages. Besides, the foldable, lightweight, and easy-carry handle makes it the perfect choice for outdoor adventurers. Thanks to the multi-layered cell technology and monocrystalline silicon solar cells, the solar panels perform better with a high conversion efficiency of 23.7%.

  • The ETFE-laminated case, IP65 water-resistant quality, and pocket zippers of solar cells make it durable and increase its lifespan.
  • The storage bag with SolarSaga 100W solar panel kit stores and protects the ports and cables from shock and dust.
  • Advanced solar panels come with a foldable design, rubber handle, and compact size for easy transportation.
  • It is compatible with Jackery Explorer 300/500/1000/1500 power stations.

FAQs About Types Of Solar Panels 

Monocrystalline solar panels are the best option for most residential solar power systems. However, if you are still apprehensive about the choice, here are a few questions to consider.

  • How long do Jackery monocrystalline solar panels last?

Jackery monocrystalline solar panels can last for a long time if well-maintained. The highest-grade solar solution can last for over 25 years when combined with explorer solar power stations.

  • Which is the most efficient type of solar panel?

The monocrystalline solar power panel type is the most efficient, with ratings between 17%-25%. As the silicon molecules are appropriately aligned in the solar panel, they convert solar energy into electricity faster.

  • Which is the cheapest type of solar panel?

Among all the solar power panels sold commercially, thin-film solar panels are the cheapest. This is because they have an easy manufacturing process that requires fewer materials. However, these panels also tend to be the least efficient.

  • How to make full use of Jackery solar panels?

Jackery solar power panels use monocrystalline silicon solar cells, providing a high solar conversion rate up to 25%. Consider attaching the Jackery solar panel with a solar generator to improve the power generation capabilities.

  • Jackery SolarSaga 80W solar panels and Explorer 240/300/500/1000/1500 are suitable to power necessary home appliances that require low power consumption.
  • Jackery SolarSaga 100W solar panels and Explorer power stations can be an excellent choice to power all the appliances and enjoy camping or other outdoor adventures.
jackery solar panels and generator

Final Thoughts

Understanding the different types of solar panels and their features will help you make an informed decision. We recommend choosing a portable solar panel, an easy-to-carry power solution for adventures.

If you're still unsure which solar panel is the right choice, consider investing in Jackery SolarSaga solar panels. They are highly efficient and outperform compared to other solar panels available on the market.

So, what are you waiting for? Go solar with the highest quality solar panels and portable power station combo. Sign up for our newsletter to get instant updates about product news, deals, and promotions.


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