Designing Your Solar Home: What Type of Solar Panel Is Best?
In a 2022 Pew survey, 8% of U.S. homeowners said they’d installed solar panels. However, nearly 4 in 10 also said they’d given “serious thought” to doing so too.
So if you’re part of the second group, one of the first things you must know is what type of solar panel is best for your home. After all, your choice will influence how much money you can save on your energy bills.
To that end, we created this guide on the primary types of solar panels and which one you should consider the most. So, read on to discover what it is and why.
What Are the Primary Types of Solar Panels?
There are three primary types of solar panels, also called solar modules. These include monocrystalline (mono), polycrystalline (poly), and thin film.
Each mono panel features solar cells made of a single pure silicon crystal. A poly panel also contains silicon, but each cell has several crystals. A thin film panel can use various materials, including silicon, but not of the crystal type.
So, What Type of Solar Panel Is Best for Your Home?
You can save money with solar regardless of the kind of panels you install. However, if you want the most savings, the best type of solar panel for your home is monocrystalline.
Here are the top reasons why.
Highest Energy Conversion Efficiency
The performance of solar panels relies on their solar cells’ energy conversion efficiency. It’s the percentage of solar energy a cell gets and converts into usable electricity. The higher it is, the more efficient the solar panel is.
Monocrystalline panels have the highest energy conversion efficiencies. They have shown efficiency rates of over 25%, while it’s only more than 20% for polycrystalline.
The chief reason behind mono panels’ high efficiency is their cells’ single-crystal construction. That gives the electricity-generating electrons in them to have more room to flow. As a result, they can move about more freely, allowing them to generate more electricity.
More Sun-Derived Electricity Means Lower Energy Bills
Every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity your panels produce cuts your grid usage by 1 kWh.
Suppose you invest in a mono solar panel design with each panel having a 400-watt output. Under the right conditions, every module could generate up to 400 watts per hour. So within five hours, each one could produce about 2,000 watts or 2 kW.
Let’s also say you live in an average U.S. household with a 29 kWh daily electricity consumption. In this case, 15 mono solar panels with a 2-kW output per 5 hours are enough to meet your daily electricity usage. With this setup, you can eliminate your grid consumption and, thus, your energy bills.
If you choose polycrystalline home solar panels, they may only give you up to about 300 watts per hour. That’s around 1.5 kW within five hours per panel or 22.5 kW for a 15-poly panel design. That can still lower your energy bills, but the reduction isn’t as significant as what you’d get if you go with mono.
The same goes for thin film panels, which usually have an output of between 250 and 300 watts per hour.
Best Option for Limited Roof Space
The higher the efficiency of solar panels, the fewer you’d need to meet your energy usage. As mentioned above, 15 400-watt mono panels could be enough for a household with a 29 kW daily consumption. That goes up to about 20 modules or more if you choose the polycrystalline or thin film kind.
That makes monocrystalline panels the best option if you have limited roof space.
Best Choice for Areas With Limited Sunlight
Solar panels produce the most power during peak sun hours. These are the times of the day wherein the sun’s intensity reaches or goes beyond 1,000 W/m².
Most states have a daily average of four to five peak sun hours. Few, like Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, get more than 6. However, some, such as Connecticut, Maine, and Michigan, enjoy less than four peak sun hours.
If you live in one of those less-sunny states, it’s best to invest in monocrystalline panels. That way, you can make the most out of your area’s limited sunlight.
Their Color Goes Well With Other Colors
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to take on a black color. Black, in turn, goes well with nearly all other colors because it’s a shade and a neutral hue.
So, no matter the color of your roof or house, it won’t clash with mono panels.
Polycrystalline panels, on the other hand, have a darker blue color. Thin-film panels are often light blue, but some makers produce them in black, too. That’s great news, but remember: thin-film panels are also the least efficient.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Mono Panels?
Yes, with the primary one being their cost. Of all the solar solutions available today, monocrystalline panels cost the most.
So, be ready to pay more if you opt for mono solar panels. Even more, if you plan to take out a solar loan since you also have to pay interest fees.
However, the high-efficiency rating of mono panels outweighs their cost. They can also last longer, between 25 and 40 years, while poly panels only average between 25 and 35 years. The thin film type has the shortest lifespan, ranging from 10 to 20 years.
Don’t forget that the federal home solar tax credit is still up for grabs until 2034. With this, you can get a 30% tax credit if you install your mono panels on or before December 31, 2032. It then drops to 26% for installations made throughout 2033 and 22% in 2034.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels for the Win
Now that you know what type of solar panel is best for homes, you can decide if mono panels are really for you. If you want the most efficient and longest-lasting modules, then yes, they are the best option. That’s why even if they cost the most, they’re still the top choice in the long run.
However, if you have lots of roof space and are on a tight budget, poly panels may be more cost-effective.
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