Top 4 Models of Solar Panels
February 23, 2022

In solar power generation, sunlight harvesting is an essential factor. Sunlight intensity is not uniform in all places. The kind of solar panels a consumer gets for collecting sunlight must be appropriate for the location and the usage regime they anticipate.

First off, solar panels are classified into generations. This classification is based on their conversion rates and the material used in producing them.

The generations include:

  • First-generation solar panels are made of Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline silicon. Their efficiency rates range between 15 and 20%. The types of solar panels here are Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels.
  • Second-generation solar panels are produced from photovoltaic materials–like cadmium, copper, and silicon–that have been transformed into thin films. The types here vary based on the number of layers in the solar panel. They are not as efficient as the first-generation panels (usually just about 7%).
  • Third-generation solar panels are still under development through several research processes. They represent a class of solar panels characterized by high efficiency, usually up to 41%, and could use either organic matter or inorganic substrates for solar collection. Examples of panels in this generation include the biohybrid solar cell and the concentrated photovoltaic cell.

According to their efficiency, the top models of solar panels include:

1. Concentrated Photovoltaic cells (CPV cells)

These cells operate like normal photovoltaic cells. The difference is that the CPV cells are connected at multiple junctions. This connection immensely increases their conversion rates from 20% to over 40%. As a result, they are the most efficient models of solar panels.

There are a few technicalities involved in using CPV cells, though. The cells face the sun at a specific, constant angle to achieve maximal efficiency. For this reason, a solar tracker is added to the array to aid efficient sunlight harvesting.

They are, however, at an experimental phase and are not yet available for commercial markets.

2. Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline Solar Panels are an array of photovoltaic cells derived from silicon crystals obtained from the same source. They appear dark in color, with rounded edges, and they last the longest of all the panel variants.

They are very efficient in output, with conversion rates at about 20%. They also last the longest and are resistant to degradation by high temperatures. However, Monocrystalline Solar Panels are the most expensive commercially available solar panels.

3. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are not too different from the monocrystalline models. The main difference is that the crystals in polycrystalline models are obtained from various sources. Collecting the silicon from other sources results in impurities, which give the polycrystalline models their characteristic speckled blue appearance.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels are slightly less efficient than monocrystalline models. They are also not as resistant to high temperatures and cost lesser. They are, however, a good option if the consumer is working with a tight budget.

4. Thin-film Solar cells

They are panels derived from photovoltaic substances like cadmium, copper, or silicon. These substances are beaten into thin sheets and fashioned into panels for solar harvesting.

Thin-film solar cells are significantly less efficient than the models mentioned above–their conversion rate is about 7%. They also don’t last as long as the other solar panel models and occupy a lot of space, making them unsuitable for small-scale installation.

The thin-film solar cells, however, are easy to produce and install. They are also way cheaper than the others and can be used if sufficient space is available for installation.

In summary, the solar panel models mentioned above are the most efficient models, and they are all suitable options, depending on the consumer’s needs.