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4 Different Types of Solar Panels for Your Home

By Jarrod Heil

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Solar energy was once an expensive commodity, but those days are fading into darkness.

Over the years, solar energy has become more accessible to homeowners, which means that more homeowners are installing them and more homes are being built with a full or partial solar supply to bring power to the home.

With the influx of solar power in homes around the world, people are settling for the cheapest option without ever knowing what they’re actually getting or installing on their home.

The following four solar cell energy sources are the most commonly installed panels in homes around the world, and we think you should know what exactly is in each.

1st Generation Solar Cell Panels

These first generation solar panels are among the most common cells out there. Dubbed the most traditional solar cells, first generation solar panels are made of crystalline silicon and are used commercially due to their high-efficiency output and long lifespan.

1. Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

Microcrystalline solar panels are what you can see on about 80 percent of homes around the world — whether they’re powering the entire home or just parts of it.

This number is so high due to the compact nature of a one-layer silicon wafer panel and the effectiveness of which these panels produce energy.

They do have a relatively high cost due to the extensiveness of the production process. Each cell must be carefully monitored in a controlled environment when they’re growing.

Once fully ready to be installed each panel may lose its efficiency if the silicon cells in the solar panel reach more than 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

These solar panels are similar to its monocrystalline counterpart, but these solar cells are grown in molds of multiple crystals instead of growing each cell on its own.

This can drastically decrease production costs because the solar cells don’t need to be monitored as carefully.

Growing the cells in molds instead of individually also decreases their overall efficiency. In fact, polycrystalline solar panels can be up to 20 percent less efficient than its poly counterpart.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are best for generating power to part or an entire home, as well as heating swimming pools and other miscellaneous forms of somewhat significant solar power for homes.

3. Amorphous Silicon Panels

These small silicon solar panels are most commonly used to power exterior lighting on your home.

Since amorphous silicon panels are made to be pretty thin, they’re relatively flexible, which makes them a perfect solar panel to put on the top of outdoor lighting.

These panels can be up to 10 percent less efficient than polycrystalline panels, so they are not suitable to power an entire home or even part of it.

Since amorphous solar cells can be made into panels that are thin and flexible, these solar cells can be used in first and second generation solar cell panels.

2nd Generation Solar Cell Panels

Second generation solar cell panels are oftentimes called thin-film solar panels due to the relatively thin layers of either silicon cells or semiconductor materials.

These panels came along at a later stage of the solar game and are sometimes criticized due to the toxicity of the materials involved in its production.

These second generation solar cell panels are widely popular among venture capitalists because they’re much cheaper and less strenuous to produce than its first generation counterpart.

In addition to amorphous silicon panels, there is one other type of non-silicon panel commonly used in homes, cadmium telluride.

4. Cadmium Telluride Solar Panels

Now the second most popular solar cell in the entire world, cadmium telluride solar cells use photovoltaic technology to convert sunlight into energy. These panels are an extremely low cost per watt to manufacture, which has made them fairly popular over the years.

But these panels draw hefty criticism due to the use of tellurium, which is an exceedingly rare element found within the earth’s crust.

Cadmium is also one of the top-10 deadliest materials known to man, which means the improper handling or inhalation of its dust can result in serious injuries or death.

Although only two generations of solar cell panels are widely used in homes around the world, there are three generations and a fourth on the horizon.

The latter two generations are primarily focused on auto and home appliance technology, such as chargers and other things commonly found in homes.

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