Types Of Panels
Solar panel type by performance
Highest performance: Monocrystalline
Efficiency ratings of monocrystalline solar panels range from 17% to 22%, earning them the title of the most efficient solar panel type. The higher efficiency rating of monocrystalline panels makes them ideal for homes with limited roof space, as you’ll need fewer panels to generate the electricity you need.
Monocrystalline solar panels have their manufacturing process to thank for being so efficient. Because monocrystalline solar cells are made of a single crystal of silicon, electrons can easily flow throughout the cell, increasing overall efficiency.
Not only do monocrystalline panels have the highest efficiency ratings, but they typically also have the highest power capacity ratings, as well. Most monocrystalline panels on the market today will have a power output rating of at least 320 watts but can go up to around 415 watts or higher!
Mid-Tier Performance: Polycrystalline
Polycrystalline panel efficiency ratings will typically range from 15% to 17%. The lower efficiency ratings are due to how electrons move through the solar cell. Because polycrystalline cells contain multiple silicon cells, the electrons cannot move as easily and as a result, decrease the efficiency of the panel.
The lower efficiency of polycrystalline panels also means they tend to have a lower power output than monocrystalline panels, usually ranging between 240 watts and 300 watts. Some polycrystalline panels have power ratings above 300 watts.
However, new technologies and manufacturing processes have given the efficiency and power ratings of polycrystalline panels a slight boost over the years, slowly closing the performance gap between mono and polycrystalline panels.
Lowest Performance: Thin Film
Thin film solar panels have incredibly low efficiency ratings. As recently as a few years ago, thin film efficiencies were in the single digits. Researchers have recently achieved 23.4% efficiency with thin film cell prototypes but thin film panels that are commercially available generally have efficiency in the 10–13% range.