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Different Types of Solar Panels

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With the push well and truly on to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, solar has become one of the most common means for Aussies to transition towards a cleaner future. In fact, figures from the Clean Energy Regulator revealed Australia is leading the world in rooftop solar installations.

If you are considering installing solar panels onto your new or existing home, there are a number of different types available depending on the intended use of the solar energy that is generated. We’ll look at these below to help determine which may be best suited to your home and intended use.

Types of solar panels

When it comes to navigating the solar panel market, there are typically three common types available, these are:

  • Monocrystalline
  • Polycrystalline
  • Thin-film

In Australia, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline makes are the most common, given they offer the best efficiency for both domestic and commercial use.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline panels are created from a single continuous crystal structure that is cut into several wafers. The panels are made from pure silicone and are typically identified by their dark blue or black appearance.

Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive of the three types, given they are made of pure silicone, yet are the most space and energy efficient efficient among all three solar panel types.

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline panels are created from a number of different silicone crystals as opposed to a single continuous structure. To create the solar panel, silicone crystals are melted and poured into molds. As a result, polycrystalline solar panels are generally more affordable than monocrystalline panels since there is little wastage.

Despite being cheaper, polycrystalline solar panels have a lower heat tolerance, meaning they are less efficient in high-temperature environments.

Thin-film solar panels

Thin-film solar panels are created in a different manner to both mono and polycrystalline panels. Thin-film panels are made by spraying a layer of silicone onto a surface. Each panel does not require a frame backing, which makes them lighter and easier to install.

Thin-film solar panels are the cheapest of the three types, given they are typically portable and flexible, however are the least energy efficient.

Differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels

As mentioned above, one of the key differences between the two most popular types of solar panels in Australia is how they are constructed. Mono meaning one, means the solar panels are made from a single continuous crystal structure. Poly on the other hand meaning multiple, means the solar panels are made from multiple different silicone crystals.

Energy efficiency

Monocrystalline panels typically have the highest efficiencies and power capacity. Monocrystalline solar panels can reach efficiencies higher than 20%, while polycrystalline solar panels will typically reach an efficiency of between 15 to 17%.

Power

Monocrystalline solar panels tend to generate more power than other types of panels not only because of their efficiency but because they have come in higher wattage modules.

Size

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels aren’t physically the same size, yet both types of solar panels tend to come in 60, 72 or 96 cell variants. However, even with the same number of cells, monocrystalline panels are capable of producing more electricity.

How to choose which solar panel is right for me?

Choosing a solar panel type will essentially come down to the specifics of your property, its intended use and your financial position. Monocrystalline, polycrystalline solar panels are typically the most reliable and energy efficient options, yet will set you back a greater cost than thin-film panels.

Property owners with plenty of rooftop space for solar panels can save money upfront by installing lower efficiency, lower-cost polycrystalline panels. However if you are looking to maximize your electric bill savings, you can do so by installing high-efficiency, monocrystalline solar panels.

To help you transition to a greener home and potentially save thousands on electricity costs, check out our range of solar home loans or chat to one of our lending specialists today.

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About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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