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Types of Solar Panels - Everything You Need to Know

Types of Solar Panels

Short on Time? Here’s The Article Summary

The article provides a detailed overview of three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Monocrystalline panels are known for their efficiency and durability, making them suitable for various applications. Polycrystalline panels are more affordable and eco-friendly, though slightly less efficient. Thin-film panels are flexible and lightweight, ideal for curved or limited spaces.

The article also discusses how to choose the right panel based on space availability, power requirements, and budget. It concludes by mentioning emerging solar panel technologies like bifacial panels, concentrated PV, solar tiles, and transparent solar panels, highlighting the continuous advancements in solar energy technology.


Do you want to learn more about the different types of solar panels? Looking for the perfect solar panel but not sure where to go?

You’re in luck. We’ve built quite a reputation for being the nation’s preferred DIY solar supplier. We know all about solar panels and will point you in the right direction.

In this detailed guide, we’ll help you tell your flexible solar panels from your bifacial solar panels and more. Let’s shine some light on this eco-friendly power source. 

The Three Types of Solar Panels

Today, all solar panels you can find on the market can easily be categorized into three distinct solar panel types. Each type of solar panel has its benefits and drawbacks. 

Before shopping for the best solar panels around, we suggest that you first learn about the three types of solar panels. 

By understanding the different types, you’ll quickly know which solar panel is the best for your particular solar system.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

We start with the most prestigious solar panels in the industry. Monocrystalline solar panels are highly praised for their efficiency.  

These solar panels are made from the purest silicon, which gives them the ability to generate electricity efficiently for years and years.

Typically, a durable, tempered glass focuses the sunlight and protects this solar panel from some of the harshest weather conditions.

One example of a monocrystalline solar panel is this 200-watt 12-volt solar panel. We find that this solar panel is perfect to power a camper or RV.  

Some other common uses include providing power to your boat, camp, or even traffic signals. This solar panel is only 58.7 x 26.8 x 1.4 in. Due to its convenient size, you can even use it as a portable power source.

Monocrystalline solar panels are best known for:

  • When you want an extremely efficient, powerful solar panel.
  • A durable, premium, eco-friendly power source.
  • A low-maintenance solar panel.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Another popular solar panel type is the eco-friendly polycrystalline solar panel. A polycrystalline solar panel, such as this 100W solar panel, is more affordable than its bigger cousins.

Types of Solar Panels

Not only are they more affordable, but their manufacturing process is also more eco-friendly. So, if you’re looking for a solar panel with a small carbon footprint, then a polycrystalline solar panel is perfect for you.

Since they use lower quality silicon, they aren’t quite as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels. Yet, they are a favorite among budget-conscientious DIY fans. 

Today though, these types of solar panels have been improved to such a point that they provide excellent performance even during low light conditions, such as cloudy days, mornings, and evenings.

They also come in various sizes so that you can use them either in an off-grid or grid-tied solar system kit. 

Polycrystalline solar panels are best known for:

  • Being an affordable solar panel.
  • Having a lower carbon footprint than other types of solar panels.
  • Durable and low-maintenance solar panel.

Thin-film Solar Panels

Last but not least is the type of solar panel is known as the thin-film solar panel. As the name suggests, thin-film panels are flexible solar panels

There’s been a lot of debate around flexible vs. rigid solar panels. The fact remains that flexible solar panels are a favorite, and they’re here to stay. 

Flexible solar panels, such as this 175W solar panel, are pretty unique. This flexible solar panel can bend up to at least 248 degrees. 

This flexibility makes it easy to install them where a standard, rigid solar panel can’t fit. Its flexibility isn’t the only benefit, though.

Flexible solar panels are typically up to 70% lighter than their standard, rigid cousins. They are also much thinner, making them one of the easiest solar panel types to install.

Unfortunately, out of all three types, thin-film or flexible solar panels are the least efficient. However, they tend to be an ideal choice for airstreams, campers, and boats.

Thin-film solar panels are best known for:

  • Being a flexible solar panel.
  • Being sleek and thin.
  • Quick and easy to install.

How do I decide which type of solar panel is best for me?

Since all three types of solar panels have pros and cons, choosing the right solar panel can be challenging. 

different types of solar panels

The best way to choose a solar panel fit for your needs is to look at your property and power requirements.

Space Matters!

Possibly the biggest factor when determining which type of solar panel to install is the issue of space. 

The area you’ve got available for your solar panels determines the type of solar panel and the cost of your project.

I’ve got plenty of space

If you’ve got a large, open area for your solar panels, polycrystalline panels are a great choice. Look at investing in a solar panel such as this 100W solar panel

They are more affordable than monocrystalline panels. Even if they are slightly less efficient, you can buy several of them and still save quite a hefty sum of money.

Keep in mind the installation costs. Hiring labor to install your solar panels may run up your costs when you have plenty of panels to install. However, with a little patience and know-how, most of our solar panels are a breeze to set up on your own.

I’ve got a limited area

For those with a small, limited area, you’re better off choosing an efficient solar panel. The more efficient your solar panels are, and the higher capacity they have, the fewer you’ll need to install.

So, in this case, it’s best to go for a monocrystalline solar panel such as this 200-watt solar panel.

I’ve got a sloped roof or surface

If you’ve got a sloped roof, for example, an RV or camper, you’re better off installing a lightweight, flexible solar panel like this 175W solar panel

Their ability to bend and follow curves or slopes makes them a great alternative to rigid solar panels. 

They are especially great if your space is limited, and fixing a rigid solar panel is out of the question.

Consider Your Power Requirements

Now that you’ve determined what type of solar panel is best for your project, it’s time to look at the capacity of your solar panels.

If you’ve been shopping around for solar panels, you’ll notice that they come in different wattages. 

This wattage is an indication of how much power the solar panel will produce under ideal conditions.

Typically, a 200W solar panel will produce 200-watt hours of electricity in an hour. The higher this power rating, the more expensive a solar panel becomes. 

If you require a system that produces 600W, you could either install 6x 100W panels or 2x 300W panels. 

The important thing here is to consider your budget. Keep installation costs in mind. They’ll go up the more solar panels you need to install.

Sometimes, it’s more affordable to buy one expensive solar panel instead of several cheaper panels. 

The Future of Solar Panels is Bright

Every day, new advances are being made in the field of solar energy and battery technology. Most efforts are focused on increasing the efficiency of solar panels or lowering the cost of manufacturing them. Here are some other interesting advances being made.

types of solar panel

Bifacial Solar Panels

Bifacial solar panels are relatively new. This type of solar panel has two faces, one on the back and one on the front of the panel. Having two faces means it’s able to catch more sunlight. 

With more sunlight striking the solar cells, it can generate even more power than conventional solar panels.

Concentrated PV Solar Technology

Another relatively new technology is the Concentrated PV solar panel. These panels use curved mirrors or lenses to focus sunlight on a specific spot. 

This focussed sunlight makes the solar panel more efficient, and it can generate electricity even during low light levels. 

Solar Tiles

Back in 2016, Elon Musk proposed covering household roofs with solar tiles. Sadly, this technology is still pretty inefficient and in its development phases.

However, it’s something worth keeping an eye on as it can potentially completely change the world’s energy landscape.

Transparent Solar Panels

Researchers at MIT developed a transparent solar panel. This type of solar panel uses infrared rays to generate electricity. At the time of writing this guide, the technology is still under development. 

The researchers hope to launch transparent solar panels that can fit on cell phones or laptops to keep them charged.

Our Final Thoughts

Choosing the perfect type of solar panel for your project is easy. 

Since solar panels are a long-term installation, with lifetimes of up to 25 years, it’s important to do your research before buying the first and cheapest solar panel available. 

You’ve done most of that research by reading through our detailed guide.

Now that you know the different types of solar systems, why don’t you have a look at our top recommendations for each type:

  • Monocrystalline solar panels: 200-watt solar panel.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels: this 100W solar panel.
  • Thin-film solar panels: this 175W solar panel.

If you’ve got any more questions or concerns about which type of solar panel is the best as commercial solar panels or grid-tie solar panels, be sure to check out our blog section. We’ve got plenty of resources to guide you in the right direction.

Types of Solar Panels FAQs 

Which type of solar panel is the most efficient?

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient type of solar panel. They produce more electricity than any other type of solar panel.

Which type of solar panel is the most affordable?

Thin-film solar panels are the most affordable type of solar panel. They are inexpensive, mainly because it’s easy to install them and they require fewer tools.

Which type of solar panel is the most attractive?

While beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, today, most people agree that thin-film solar panels are the most attractive. They are much thinner than other types of solar panels, giving them a sleek, futuristic appeal.

Which type of solar panel is most commonly used for a home?

The most common solar panels used for a household are either monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels. Both types provide a great balance between affordability, longevity, and efficiency. 

What are the 2 types of solar panels?

If you’ve been wondering what the 2 types of solar panels are, you’ll be surprised to learn that solar technology has advanced so much that there are more than two types. 

However, the most commonly used types of solar panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. They are both readily available, efficient, and great value for money.

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Article by

Alex S

Alex is a co-founder of Shop Solar, a company that he established in 2018 to revolutionize the solar industry by simplifying the process and making it more simple and cost-effective. Under his strategic leadership, Shop Solar has grown into a comprehensive one-stop-shop, empowering over 40,000+ customers to access top-quality solar and storage solutions, comprehensive information, intuitive tools, and professional installation services.

With a passion for innovation and sustainable energy, Alex has successfully expanded the business's reach and impact, serving as a driving force in the company's growth and development. You can browse best seller's here.

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