Which Type of Solar Panel is Best?

When you go to pick solar panels for your photovoltaic (PV) system, you will find 3 main categories of panel options: monocrystalline solar panels (mono) and polycrystalline solar panels (poly), and the Thin-Film Solar panels. All types of panels produce energy from the sun, but there are some important differences that you need to be aware of before you purchase one or the other. Which type of Solar Panel is Best?

Monocrystalline Panels $$$
High efficiency/performance/Watt capacity
Aesthetics/19-20% efficient
Last 25 years

Polycrystalline Panels $$
Blue hue/performance
Lower efficiency/15-17%
Last 25 years

Thin-Film Panels $
Lowest efficiency/performance
Made for RV’s & Campers


When you are ready to start the project for your photovoltaic (PV) system, you will encounter three categories of panel options to start your system. This article will give you the general info you are looking for when you pick out the most important part of the system, the Solar Panel.

What Is The Most Efficient Solar Panel


Monocrystalline solar panels are made with a higher grade material but in general, they do the same thing make electricity from the sun. The major difference between the panels will be the durability and looks, the efficiency, and the size the panels. The cost per watt between the two panels. When it comes to durability both these types of panels are extremely durable. They are also both made from silicon, which is used for solar panels because it is an abundant, very durable element. Many solar panel manufacturers make both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.

  • When it comes to construction they both have an aluminum frame with a tempered glass top that covers and protects the solar cells that will produce electricity. The manufacturers who make these panels normally cover them with the guarantee of a 25-year warranty.

When it comes to bad weather they are both somewhat resilient to harsh weather and high winds along with snow and even hail storms.

  • Monocrystalline is made with higher grades of silicon which gives them an edge in efficiency over polycrystalline solar panels. Efficiency means the higher rate percentage of energy that creates electricity.
  • For Monocrystalline solar panels that meat means it’s around 19-20 percent efficient as where Polycrystalline panels may be approximately 16-17 percent efficient rated.

So in a comparison of the 150-watt Monocrystalline solar panel and a Polycrystalline solar panel that also provides 150 watts of energy

  • The Monocrystalline panel would take up less space than the Polycrystalline panel in dimensions providing the same amount of power meaning it would use less of a footprint.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher technology manufactured solar cells made from a single crystal of silicon, while Polycrystalline solar panels have solar cells made from many silicon fragments melted together.

Because the Monocrystalline Solar panel is made with more and higher quality silicon in the manufacturing process, that cost is passed on to the consumer which will lead to a higher cost of the panel even though they both produce the same amount of energy.

The technology is different. Like all electronic appliances the longer the product is being manufactured the less expensive, it becomes after a while. Today a quality Polycrystalline Solar Panel or Monocrystalline Solar Panel can be purchased for about $0.80 to 0.90 cents per watt.

Polycrystalline solar panels generally have lower efficiencies than monocrystalline options, but their advantage is a lower price point. In addition, polycrystalline solar panels tend to have a blue hue instead of the black hue that the monocrystalline panels have. Whatever the reason, if you are ready to start a Solar project the easiest way to begin is to work off of the heart of a Solar Power System which is the Solar Panel.

The Flex types of panels may be of interest because of how they are able to fit in or attach to boats or vehicles. They are made from Thin-Film Solar Panels. When Ridged Frame Solar Panels just won’t do or can’t fit and you need to accommodate the solar panels to fit an RV, Camper, or even a Hiker’s Backpack, then the world of Thin-Film Solar panels are available for you and becoming more popular every day.

Thin Film Solar Panels


Thin-film concepts started very small in the 1980s being used in watches and calculators that needed tiny amounts of energy. With the enhancement of thin-film technology, its potential uses also increased significantly. A major advantage of Thin Film Solar Panels lies in their flexibility, which helps them be installed on curved as well as flat surfaces and in building-integrated photovoltaics.

Thin Film is lightweight and flexible and semi-transparent. This kind of feature gives Thin power solar energy the potential to revolutionize the Solar Power Industry. The way power is generated and where it can be generated attached or adhered to office windows that face the sun and provide heating or cooling to the building it’s attached to or as this web site topic of how Solar energy can be provided and consumed in the middle of the jungle, a hiker or ocean. There is no limit to what can be accomplished.

That means thin-film solar panel manufacturers have applications for large solar panels thin-film solar panels for use on your home roof, mobile solar panels Campers, Motorhomes & RV solar panel systems, and portable panels portable gadgets recharge applications for camping & cycling.


Thin Film Solar Panels Efficiency


Aside from monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, there is a third type of solar panel called Thin-Film panels are made from a variety of materials. The most prevalent type of thin-film solar panel is made from cadmium telluride (CdTe). To make this type of thin-film panel, manufacturers place a layer of CdTe between transparent conducting layers that help capture sunlight. This type of thin-film technology also has a glass layer on the top for protection.

Thin-film solar panels can also be made from amorphous silicon (a-Si), which is similar to the composition of monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Though these thin-film panels use silicon in their composition, they are not made up of solid silicon wafers. Rather, they’re composed of non-crystalline silicon placed on top of glass, plastic, or metal.

Thin-film solar panels can also be made from amorphous silicon (a-Si), which is similar to the composition of monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Though these thin-film panels use silicon in their composition, they are not made up of solid silicon wafers. Rather, they’re composed of non-crystalline silicon placed on top of glass, plastic, or metal.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) panels are another popular type of thin-film technology. CIGS panels have all four elements placed between two conductive layers (i.e. glass, plastic, aluminum, or steel), and electrodes are placed on the front and the back of the material to capture electrical currents.

Thin-film solar panels tend to have lower efficiencies and power capacities than monocrystalline or polycrystalline varieties. Efficiencies will vary based on the specific material used in the cells, but they usually have efficiencies closer to 11 percent. Flex Solar Panel made from the Thin-Film has some proving to do and we will talk about that in further articles. 

The cost of the thin-film solar panels currently ranges from $0.50 to $1.00/watt. The goal for manufacturers of thin-film solar panels is to reduce the top price to under $0.70 / watt of peak power. There are currently thin-film solar panels available for portable uses like RVs and Campers at around 100W.


Can Solar Panels Catch On Fire


  • There are downsides to the Thin-Film technology besides efficiency as monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels. To get the kind of efficiency they provide you will need larger spaces. Compared with monocrystalline panels that could mean thin-film solar panels covering double the area, which might mean covering your entire roof area.
  • The thin-film panel solar panel technology is quite new so it is not as mature or well known as other traditional rigid solar panels. It will take more time and much more technological advancement in technology to get thin-film applications to the same percent efficiency.
  • The manufacturing process of these thin-film solar panels uses toxic chemicals, a lot of which are quite dangerous. For example, cadmium is a very harmful chemical. Users and installers want confirmation that exposure to the panels will not affect the person installing it and the place where it is installed. So that means a higher cost for installation for buildings than rigid Solar Panels.


Monocrystalline solar panels are generally thought of as the premium solar product. The main advantages of Monocrystalline Solar panels are the ridged durable construction and higher Watt capacity, high efficient ratings, and nice to look at, they are where most experts will tell you to start. When you are ready to start your kit take a look at these right here on Amazon.Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer or a complete Solar System kit like an ECO-WORTHY 1KW Complete Solar Panel System Kit with Battery and Inverter for Homes House Shed Farm


Can I Connect a Solar Panel Directly To a Battery


 JimGalloway Author/Editor



References: EnergySage- Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels: what you need to know




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