Solar energy has a lot of potential for generating power and satisfying energy needs within homes and businesses. As a result, harnessing solar energy has been a top priority in recent years. Solar panels offer an excellent way for both homes and businesses to trap energy from the sun and to use it to power daily processes. However, few people are aware of the different types of solar panels that are out there.
Here are the most commonly used types of solar panels available so you can make more informed decisions moving forward.
1st generation solar panels
The original design of solar panels (referred to as 1st generation) consists of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon. The Monocrystalline silicon panels are made of pure silicon material and are characterized by their dark surface and rounded edges. The purity of the silicon that is used makes monocrystalline panels one of the most efficient in the market.
The polycrystalline solar panels are characterized by a light-blue look with speckles and slightly sharper edges. They are not made of pure silicone, which gives them a slightly lower efficiency rating. However, they are more affordable in their price and are relatively cheaper to install.
The choice between a monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar panel comes down to space efficiency and power output. If you have a tight space in which you need to install solar panels and get the most out of them, then the monocrystalline silicon option is the way to go. However, you will not lose significantly on power output by installing polycrystalline solar panels over a larger area.
2nd generation solar panels
2nd generation solar panels are designed for efficiency. Rather than using full silicon material in their design, they simply use a thin layer of silicon to fit it onto a substrate. This method is referred to as a thin-film solar cell (TFSC) and is a cost-effective solution for providing power to stations and buildings.
While each thin film cell may be less efficient than the 1st generation design, they are produced in large numbers to be spread out over a larger area. Their strength and effectiveness lie in their numbers.
3rd generation solar panels
3rd generation panels push the envelope of discovery in harnessing solar energy. While most of them are still in the design phase, they offer promising potential for increasing the efficiency of solar panels. For example, bio-hybrid solar cells are a type of 3rd generation panel. They combine biological processes with solar harnessing technology with the aim of generating electricity.
Other 3rd generation designs are also being developed. The primary goal is for these products to become more affordable options for harnessing solar power while still offering significant cost savings over the short term.