How to Choose The Best Solar Panels for Your Solar Power System

solar panels
Image of Solar Panel in Kingston Lacy Gardens by Ell Brown on Flickr, used under the Creative Commons license

Solar panels are made of connected solar cells able to produce electricity when exposed to sunlight. Solar panels are the main components of the solar electric system. Typically they have a lifetime of 25 years.

There are three main types of solar panels – monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film (amorphous) ones.

What type of solar panels is the best?

How to Choose The Best Solar Panels for Your Solar Power System?

Monocrystalline are the most efficient – that is they require the least possible area to install – but they are also the most expensive ones.

Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient than monocrystalline ones but their price is much more affordable.

Thin-film solar panels are the least expensive ones but they require the largest area to install – about twice as much as monocrystalline panels. Therefore thin-film panels are a good choice only if you have enough area available on your roof.

Despite some recent achievements in thin-film panels production technology, it should be noted that crystalline panels (mono- and poly- ones) are the common type preferred for photovoltaic systems.

What types of solar panels to select is a task of finding an overlap between your budget and the area available on your roof. You should also mind that required space between the installed solar panels takes about 20% of the available area.

Often people ask what to do if they are ‘on a shoe string budget’.

Sure buying and installing either cheap solar panels or second-hand solar panels is a viable option but not by all means.

Cheap panels have the following common characteristics regardless of their type:

  • Cheap solar modules are NOT produced by an established or well-known brand
  • Compared to their branded counterparts, they are less efficient in converting solar energy into electricity in cloudy days
  • Warranty period lasts usually 1-2 years
  • They suffer more the Staebler-Wronski effect (refer to previous pages) and the expected degradation of their performance comes too early and too fast.
  • They are using plate glass instead of more advanced tempered glass. This makes them more vulnerable and increases the odds of fire hazard and efficiency reduction over time as a result of increased opacity.
  • The real power is usually at a lower limit of production tolerance of advertised (stated) power.

Second-hand solar panels are of inferior quality. Installing home-made solar panels, however, is not recommended.

Moreover, the area intended for solar array installation should be free of shade, with guaranteed access to direct sunlight.

It might happen however that a site be unshaded in summer and shaded in winter since in winter sun is lower and tends to cast longer shadows. The three main types of solar panels are not equally tolerant to shading.

What should also be noted is that solar vendors rarely share with you all the pros and cons of using solar panels of a certain type. As a rule, they do not provide you with the opportunity to make an informed decision on what type of solar panels to use for your solar power system. Instead, they find you unprepared by offering you a solar configuration, only taking solar panel price into account.

To find answers to important questions, such as:

–      How the performance of solar panels degrades in time

–      If I decide to use second-hand solar panels, what solar panel type to choose;

–      Which type solar panels are most tolerant to shading

–      How much area you need for a solar array to install based on your specific energy needs and by considering 20% loss of space, and also be well-prepared for a solar vendor’s offer and visit, click here to discover more about our informational  Solar Packages.

You may also like:

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Types of Solar Panels  Exposed

Can Solar panels power a house

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need

Additional information about solar panels:

1. You can get more actionable and practical info about solar panels in our Solar Packages.

2. You can get more basic info about  solar panels on Wikipedia as well.

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Lacho Pop, MSE, holds a Master's Degree in Electronics and Automatics. He has more than 15 years of experience in the design and implementation of various sophisticated electronic, solar power, and telecommunication systems.  He authored and co-authored several practical solar books in the field of solar power and solar photovoltaics. All the books were well-received by the public. You can discover more about his bestselling solar books on Amazon on his profile page here: Lacho Pop, MSE Profile