Solar panel types and their comparisons

There are three popular solar panel types available on the market. Monocrystalline solar PV panels, Polycrystalline solar PV panels and Thin-film solar panels. Each of these PV panels are made differently and have differences in appearance, effectiveness, prices and the installation their best suited for. Depending on your needs, one PV panel may suit your requirements better than the other.

Breakdown of solar panel types

Let’s take a look at the three types of solar panels which includes: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film, and see the advantages and disadvantages of each solar panel type. This will also determine which solar panel type will best suit your PV panel installation requirements. JC Solar Panels offer a variety of solar panel types in our store. 

Mono Poly Thin-Film Solar Panels Breakdown

Monocrystalline solar panels


Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Thin Film Solar Panels

Thin-Film solar panels


What are the three types of solar panels made from?

To generate electricity using solar panels, semiconducting materials are used to create solar cells which converts solar energy or sunlight into usable electricity. A non-metal semiconductor is used to create solar cells which is known as silicon.

Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline solar panels have solar cells made of silicon slices or wafers. To build a polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panel, slices are placed into rows and columns which creates a rectangle covered with a glass sheet, then also framed together. Polycrystalline solar panels and monocrystalline solar panels are made in this manner.

Monocrystalline PV panels and Polycrystalline PV panels consists of silicon cells designed in slices. However, monocrystalline and polycrystalline have differences with the architecture of the silicon designs. A single pure crystal is used to construct solar cells which are used in the design of monocrystalline PV panels. Designing Polycrystalline solar panel solar cells, pieces of silicon crystals are melted together to form a mould before they’re cut into slices or wafers.

Monocrystaline and Polycrystaline Solar Panels

Thin-Film solar panel materials

Thin-film solar panels are made from multiple different materials. The most common material used to create thin-film solar panels is, cadmium telluride or CdTe. Engineers place a layer of CdTe between transparent conducting layers to assist with capturing sunlight. A glass layer is placed on the top of the solar panel for extra protection.

Amorphous silicon (a-Si) can also be used to build thin-film solar panels. Amorphous silicon (a-Si) is almost the same as what is used in the compassioning of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. However, thin-film solar panels are not made up of solid silicon slices or wafers.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) is also used as a material to construct thin-film solar panels. All elements are placed between layers which make up the CIGS panels. Electrodes are placed on the front and the back of the solar material to allow capturing of electrical currents.  

Thin Film Solar Panel Materials

Appearance of the different popular solar panel types.

With every type of solar panel being produced differently, this will alter the physical appearance of each solar panel type.

Monocrystalline solar panel appearance

Monocrystalline solar panels usually have a black panel or black solar cells. The black appearance comes from how light interacts with the silicon crystal. However, the colours of monocrystalline PV panel frames and back sheets may vary. The back sheet of the panels may be silver, white or black. The frames of the solar panel may also be black or silver.

Monocrystalline Solar Panel Appearance
Polycrystalline Solar Panel Appearance

Polycrystalline solar panel appearance

Polycrystalline solar panels are a blue like colour. This is because light reflects off the silicon fragments in the solar cells differently than in monocrystalline solar panels.

Efficiency of solar panels

Every solar panel offers a different amount of energy it is able to produce.

Monocrystalline solar panel efficiencies.

Monocrystalline solar panels usually produce the highest efficiencies to generate solar energy. Also, monocrystalline PV panels have the highest power capacities. Most efficiencies of monocrystalline PV panels reach more than 20% while polycrystalline solar panels reach 15% to 17%. Monocrystalline solar panels usually have higher wattage modules which allow them to generate more power.

Different types of solar panel prices

Every type of solar panel comes with its own unique design and engineering; therefore, each solar panel has its own price range.

Monocrystalline Solar Panel Price

Monocrystalline solar panel prices

Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be the most expensive solar panel when compared to the other common solar panel types. The monocrystalline solar panel price is high but so is its efficiency to generate solar energy for your home. But what makes monocrystalline solar panels expensive? It’s the manufacturing process. The solar cell creation of monocrystalline solar panels is created with a single silicon crystal. This adds to the cost of manufacturing monocrystalline solar PV panels.

Polycrystalline solar panel prices

Polycrystalline solar panel prices are usually cheaper than that of monocrystalline solar panel prices. The manufacturing of polycrystalline solar panels is cheaper because solar cells are created by using fragments rather than a single silicon crystal. This allows a more basic solar manufacturing, therefore, less costs to manufacture polycrystalline solar panels allows cheaper prices for the end user.

Polycrystalline Solar Panel Price
Thin Film Solar Panel Price

Thin-Film solar panel prices

Thin-film solar panel prices depends on the type of thin-film solar panel your want to install. The most affordable thin-film solar panel is the CdTe because it is also the cheapest panel to manufacture. However, any Thin-Film solar PV panel installation price may be lower than that of monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels. It demands less labor for installation than that of mono or polycrystaline solar panels. Being more maneauverable and weighting much lighter, makes the Thin-Film solar panel much easier to install on rooftops.