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The Types of Solar Panels: Your Options Explained

Did you know that solar energy accounted for more than 115 billion kilowatt-hours in 2021 alone? A number like that shows that solar is no longer a fringe source of energy.

While there are large-scale solar farms that produce large amounts of power, solar panels installed by local homeowners are a popular method of harnessing the sun’s energy.

Read on to learn more about the types of solar panels and how they can help you save energy. 

How Does a Solar Panel Work?

Solar panels are comprised of many solar cells, which convert the sun’s energy into electrical power. Through a process called photovoltaics, these cells create charges that allow electricity to flow. 

What Types of Solar Panels Are Available?

There are four major types of solar panels, they differ from each other mostly by their composition and efficiency. The available solar panel options are:

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Also known as single-crystal panels, this version is made from pure silicon and lasts the longest. On the downside, producing monocrystalline is expensive because of the silicon waste. 

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Using multiple crystals rather than one, polycrystalline panel production involves melting the silicon together. There is much less waste in production but these panels are less efficient than the monocrystalline type. 

Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) Panels

PERC solar panels have a second layer that makes them more efficient. This layer reflects light back into the cell, allowing for more radiation absorption. They are a little more expensive than other varieties but they are smaller. 

Thin-Film Solar Panels

While not as efficient as the three previous panel types, thin-filmed solar panels are thin enough to be flexible and are easier to install. They can be sized to meet your specific needs, something unique to this type. Thin-film solar panels also differ in the materials used for construction. 

What Are the Benefits of Installing Solar Panels?

If you’re considering buying solar panels, you might wonder what the benefits are.

First, you save on your energy bill and the savings start upon installation. You may produce more energy than you consume, in which case you can sell it back to the utility company. There are reputable solar panel installers who can provide more information.   

The second major benefit is that there are federal and state benefits to installing solar panels. The federal income tax credit offered provides a tax break equal to 30% of the equipment and installation costs. 

Finally, you help the environment. By either consuming less energy from the local utility or going off the grid completely, you reduce the need for energy from less environmentally-friendly sources.

Are You Ready for Solar Panels?

Now that you know the different types of solar panels, are you ready for installation? You should review the various types with a panel expert to determine which type is right for you. The long and short term benefits make any upfront costs worth it.

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