DIY Solar Panels: Does it Matter Which Kind You Get? Posted on 24 Mar 09:00
When it’s time to select and order DIY solar panels, many of our customers contact us to ask which type of panels they should choose.
Today’s technology offers us two basic panel choices, thin-film and crystalline silicon. If you aren’t familiar with these or how each works, it’s good information to have to help you make a more accurate choice based on your needs and goals.
You’ll likely have and enjoy your DIY solar system for decades, so making the right choice on this issue is important! Let’s take an in-depth look at each type of solar panel.
Using Thin-Film Panels in DIY Solar Projects
Thin-film type panels are sometimes called the “second generation” of solar technology. Relatively new, these don’t represent a large portion of the solar panels on the market today, and for good reason.
These photovoltaics are made by sandwiching a single layer of solar collecting material (typically cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide or amorphous silicon) between two layers of glass.
Today, thin-film panels are less expensive than crystalline silicon, but they’re also less effective, less durable and twice as heavy, despite being thinner and more flexible.
Even though this technology is less expensive, more panels are required to produce the same amount of power as the second type of panel we will look at.
Because you will need so many of these panels to produce enough electricity for your needs, whatever you may save in upfront costs will be lost when it comes to space, efficiency and the overall reliability of the system over time.
Crystalline Silicon Solar Panels
These panels are the most common on the market today. They have several advantages, including improved stability, efficiency and reliability.
They consist of seven layers of solar-collecting material under a protective glass cover. They also feature an anti-reflective coating, to make sure all of the light gets down to the crystalline layers.
Crystalline silicon panels have a better sunlight-to-electricity conversion rate than the thin-film model. Therefore, they require less space because you need fewer of them to generate the power that you need.
Another advantage of crystalline silicon panels is that they are the longest-lasting type of panel available today. You won’t need to replace them for decades, and they will produce reliable power for you over their lifetimes.
Here at Solar GOODs, we sell only crystalline silicon products, not only because of their advantages, but because of the comprehensive warranties that they carry as well. This is definitely one area of technology in which the second generation has not improved upon the first.
Visit our online do-it-yourself solar superstore today to learn more about the kinds of DIY solar panels we recommend for your project.