Which type of Crystalline Silicon Solar Panels Should You Use?

3-21-2015 Which type of Crystalline Silicon Solar Panels Should You Use?

If you’ve thought about putting solar panels on your house, you’re not alone. In 2014, a new solar project was installed every three minutes, and that number is expected to drop in 2015. Despite the large numbers of people going solar, the process can still be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know which type of solar panels to choose.

There are a lot of options available to homeowners. The most common type of panels for residential photovoltaic (PV) systems are crystalline silicon panels.

Crystalline Silicon

Crystalline silicon is the solid, crystallized form of silicon. Solar panels made from crystalline silicon are the most common option available. To make the panels, manufacturers place solar cells on a backplate, connect and laminate them, and place a sheet of toughened, high-transmittance glass over them.

Solar panels made from crystalline silicon are one of the higher-effeciency options in the solar world, so they’re a great choice for small spaces, like rooftops. The panels are divided into two categories: monocrystalline and polycrystalline.


These panels are made by slicing thin wafers from a high-purity silicon crystal. Because the crystal has already hardened, the wafers create a uniform appearance when placed in a solar panel.

Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rating because they use high-purity silicon. However, they are one of the more expensive panel options. These panels are a good choice for rooftop solar because they don’t require much space.

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Polycrystalline panels are made from melted raw silicon. The melted silicon is poured into a square mold and allowed to cool. As the silicon cools, it often creates a blotchy patten, resulting in a less uniform-looking solar panel. After it’s solidified, the silicon sheets are cut into perfectly square wafers.

This process is simpler and less expensive than slicing wafers from a silicon crystal, so polycrystalline panels are more affordable than monocrystalline panels. However, they aren’t as efficient. Homeowners who want to go solar but want to keep costs low would do best to install polycrystalline panels.

Get a Second Opinion

When you decide to go solar, don’t go it alone. There are a lot of useful resources available to help homeowners through the transition. One of your best resources is your local contractor. If you have any questions about the process or about which type of panels would be best for your house, talk to him about your concerns. Working closely with your solar installer is one of the best ways to make going solar a seamless transition.

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