There are a number of different brands of solar panels on the market but essentially there are just three types of technologies involved in making a solar panel – monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film amorphous.
- Good power-to-size ratio: efficiency typically within the range of 135-170 Watts per m2 (13-17%, with notable exceptions).
- Outstanding performance in cooler conditions.
- Some leading units now have over 18% conversion efficiency.
- Previously the most commonly used technology in the world, with over 50 years of technological development.
- Excellent life span / longevity. Usually come with a 25yr warranty.
- Good efficiency: typically 120-150 Watts per m2 (12-15%, with notable exceptions).
- Generally speaking, marginally less expensive to produce than monocrystalline.
- Slightly better performance in hotter conditions (lower heat de-rating co-efficient)
- Excellent life span / longevity. Usually come with 25yr warranty.
Amorphous Thin Film
- Low conversion efficiency: typically 60-80 Watts/m2 (6-8%, with notable exceptions).
- Expected lifespan is less than crystalline panels.
- Optimal efficiency in hot weather, less effective in cooler conditions.
- 3-6 month ‘breaking in’ period where long term output is exceeded.
- Requires 2-3 times more panels and surface area for same output as crystalline.
While the panel efficiency is one part of your system, consideration needs to be made to the whole system. The ultimate cost and performance of your system will depend not only on the panels but also your solar invert, the installation costs and the orientation of your home’s roof plus the tilt angle of the panels.