Over the last few years, the growth of the solar industry has been sensational. Driven by a push towards sustainable, renewable energy sources and a burning desire to gain independence from ever-increasing energy prices, a revolution has begun. Adopted by homeowners and businesses alike.
But how many people fully understand what they’re buying when they invest in solar?
Solar panels come in all shapes and sizes, brands and dimensions. Understanding the kind of panels you’re investing in is vital. As the solar industry expands, the selection of pv solar panels to choose from broadens. Before you invest in solar, it’s important to consider which panel is the best fit. For you. Your property. And your family.
There are four key factors to consider: price, efficiency, aesthetics, and lifespan. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the three main types of solar panels and their properties, so you can get a clear overview of how best to spend your money.
To produce polycrystalline panels, manufacturers create solar cells, melting silicon and placing the liquid substance into a square-shaped mould.
Here comes the first disadvantage homeowners note: appearance. The blue-crossed look of polycrystalline panels isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing as the sleek finish found on the surface of monocrystalline panels. However, by sacrificing aesthetics customers can expect to save a few extra pennies when they invest in polycrystalline. The manufacturing process is particularly sustainable, and almost all the silicon is used, meaning little wastage.
Where customers win regarding price, polycrystalline panels are lacking when it comes to efficiency. These panels hold multiple crystals in their cells, meaning a decreased surface for electrons to move about. This minimizes the panel’s level of efficiency to 13-16%, meaning you won’t get quite as much out of them.
Derived from the material they’re fashioned from, monocrystalline panels are a product of their namesake, a single-crystal silicon, morphed into bars and sliced into wafer-like shapes.
Unlike its poly sister, monocrystalline panels are dark, sleek, and easy on the eyes. These panels are one of the more desirable. Homeowners are captivated by their fashionable appearance, but their aesthetic appeal comes with a price.
When it comes to efficiency, monocrystalline panels rank high. Comprising just one crystal, the cells have much more room to move around. Moreover, these panels are divided into two, with the top half connecting one series and the bottom another. This makes monocrystalline a great investment if efficiency is top of your priority list – with a rating standing between 15 – 20%.
PERC stands for Passivated Emitter Rear Cell technology. But don’t let the terminology scare you. It’s basically a manufacturing style that increases energy efficiency by adding an anti-reflective layer that captures sunlight and transforms into power. Initially developed in 1989, the technology was designed to fight the efficiency limitations of traditional cells.
PERC enhances the performance of a cell by improving its capacity to trap sunlight. Although the cell’s efficiency levels increase by only 1%, this small percentage has equated to world record-breaking levels of efficiency.
Bifacial panels are self-explanatory. As their name suggests, they’re double-sided panels, manufactured to capture sunlight on either side. Typically made from glass, bifacial solar panels are transparent and, as you’d expect, surpass single-sided panels when it comes to efficiency by absorbing light on double the amount of surface.
How do they work?
It’s pretty simple, and not far removed from how traditional solar panels operate. By using a semiconductor material, power is produced from sunlight, hitting the bifacial panel, becoming absorbed by the solar cells and converting into energy. The glass catches a portion of the light and reflects it through the inside of the panels until it’s absorbed by a solar cell.
The magic of the bifacial panel is the light that isn’t absorbed, which shoots through the panel, strikes the reflective material and bounces back onto the solar panel, converting it into electricity.
Bifacial panels are winners regarding efficiency, but like many of our most proactive panels, their efficiency comes at a cost. although the long-term payoff is better, the installation costs are higher and cost more per module.
Solar panels have advanced enormously in recent years. In addition to a significant drop in cost, they’ve also become more effective. Where, in 2010, your average panel wattage stood somewhere between 175-250 watts, you can now expect at least 340 watts. But, while it’s clear to everyone that the UK solar market is in the midst of a significant surge, the UK only equates to 3% of the global PV market.
Yet, it may not be this way for long. Solar panels are popping up in domestic and commercial locations. On homes, schools, offices, churches and even police stations. The future of solar is bright, and its future in the UK market, promising.
Understanding which panels best fit your unique requirements is imperative to making an informed decision. And involves undertaking a fair amount of research.
Fancy taking the burden off your shoulders? We can help.
Here at Vision2030, we understand the gravity of your investment and our committed solar team are here to answer any questions you might have.
Get in touch with us at 0333 335 5362 to find out more.