The different types of solar panels
There are several different types of Solar Panels available today. The main types include amorphous solar panels, mono/poly-crystalline solar panels. Here's some basic information about the different types available today.
Amorphous Solar Panels – These solar panels are typically the most low-cost solar panels on the market. Amorphous Solar Panels are made by applying a film with conductive material in it to a glass front, and then encasing it in a metal or plastic framework. Amorphous Solar Panels are the type found in calculators and give the most efficient performance of any solar panel in low light intensity
Mono/Poly-Crystalline Solar Panels – These solar panels are fabricated from hundreds of silicon solar cells by conecting them together then enclosing them in a glass covered metal frame. Mono/Poly-Crystalline panels are very efficient in good light conditions and are widely used as the standard solar panel for Grid-Tie and Off-Grid Solar Systems.
Amorphous Solar Panels
The Amorphous technique of panel manufacture is most often seen in small solar panels like those in calculators or garden lamps. They are however being increasingly used for larger applications.
They are made by depositing a thin film of silicon onto a sheet of another material such as steel. The panel is formed in one piece and cells are not visible like other panels. Amorphous solar panels aren't as efficient as the other types of panel made from individual solar cells, although this has improved in recent years and they can be a practical alternative to panels made with silicon cells.
Mono/PolyCrystaline and bifacial
Crystalline solar cells are connected together in series to create solar panels. Each cell produces a voltage of just over half a volt. 36 individual cells would be required to produce an unconnected voltage of approx 20 Volts which is enough to charge a 12 Volt battery.Monocrystalline cells have a slightly higher efficiency than polycrystalline cells but in real world applications there is little practical difference between them.
Mono-crystalline - solar panels use solar cells made from a very pure single large crystal, cut from ingots. They are usually blue-grey in color and have a fairly uniform consistency
A new type of Mono-crystaline solar panel has recently become available which has glass on both sides so that it can collect energy from both. By collecting light from both sides the bifacial panels have higher efficiency (up to 20%) for about the same cost.
Poly-crystalline solar panels use silicon cast from large blocks of silicon which may contain many small crystals. Manufacturers have varying approaches to creating poly-crystalline solar cells and they are the most common. Poly-crystalline cells are dark blue to almost black color and overall efficiency is about 11-13%.
Something quite a lot of people don't realise is that a 100 Watt panel, in ideal conditions produces 100 Watts. It's the size that changes to compensate for the efficiency. When calculation the actual power output or your solar panels use a factor of 0.8 for southern regions or 0.7 for northern. So, a 100 Watt solar panel in Devon will probably produce about 80 Watts in full sunshine.
As the solar panel heats up it becomes less efficient although not enough to significantly effect the above calculation.