I: The Basics
Solar Panels are comprised of many small photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells are made of two layers of Silicon, dosed with either phosphorous or boron. Silicon is a semi-conductive nonmetal that allows for the conversion of sunlight into electricity. When light hits the silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electrical current. This is known as the “photovoltaic effect.”
When light hits the top layer of the panel, electrons are displaced between the two layers and a flow of electricity is created. This electric field forces the drifting electrons to flow in a certain direction- towards the conductive metal plates that line the cell. This flow is known as an energy current, and the strength of the current determines how much electricity each cell can produce. Once the loose electrons hit metal plates, the current is then directed into wires, allowing the flow of electrons out of the panel.
In general, there are two types of solar panels on market today; silicon and thin film solar panels.
Silicon solar panels come in two forms, Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. Both types have their pros and cons, but Polycrystalline panels are probably the most common panel type. Silicon Panels are the most efficient panel on market, averaging at about 22% efficiency.
As a point of reference, most residential panels range between 15 to 22% efficiency.
Thin film solar panels are commonly found on newer products like solar panel shingles/tiles. This panel type is typically less efficient (averaging around 12% efficiency), which impacts how much electricity a solar system can generate.
So, what exactly are Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphous silicon cells?
Solar Cells come in three distinct flavors; Single Cell (Monocrystalline), Multi Cell (Polycrystalline ), Amorphous (Non-Crystalline).
Monocrystalline solar panels are produced from one large silicon block. These types of solar panels are the oldest and are the most developed. Since they are cut from a single source, Monocrystalline silicon cells are more efficient than polycrystalline and amorphous solar cells. Producing Monocrystalline wafers is more labor intensive, and consequently, more expensive to manufacture. These panel types have a more distinct black aesthetic and are often contain a sleek look.
Polycrystalline solar panels are a newer development and are made of silicon cells melted together. Many silicon molecules are melted and then refused together into the panel itself. Polycrystalline cells are less efficient than monocrystalline cells but are also slightly less expensive. These solar cells generally have a distinct blueish hue.
Amorphous silicon panels create flexible solar panel materials that are often used in thin solar panels. Amorphous silicon cells are nanocrystalline and instead are attached to a substrate like glass, plastic, or metal. This feature allows the panels to be lean and bendable, unlike the standard panel. Amorphous panels seem to be the least efficient and least expensive panel type.
To learn more about the different panel types, check out energysage’s article ‘Types Of Solar Panels!’
II: The Different Types of Solar Cells
Solar System Options
When you install your solar system, you are typically given two options; connect your system to the grid, or install an off-grid system.
By connecting to the local grid, you are guaranteeing that you will never lose electricity for your home. Another huge advantage is that any excess electricity generated by your system is sold to your grid for use. In other words, you are able to sell excess electricity to the power company, thus making money off your solar system. A grid-connected system allows you to power your home with renewable energy when the sun is shining. Any excess electricity you produce is fed back into the grid for profit. When the sun is unavailable, however, the grid supplies your electrical needs, thus eliminating the expense of electricity storage devices, like a solar battery.
Off grid systems are stand alone system, and are usually associated with a series of batteries and backup generators for power storage. This storage is usually tapped into during off hours when the solar panels are not generating electricity (at night for example). Often, these systems make sense for homes located in remote areas, where installing this system is more cost effective than running a power line to the home.
Solar Panel Efficiency
Top Five Most Efficient Solar Panels Manufacturers
- SunPower (22.8% efficiency)
- LG (22% efficiency)
- REC Solar (21.7% efficiency)
- CSUN (21.2% efficiency)
- Panasonic (21.2% efficiency)
Most solar panels are between 15% and 20% efficient, with outliers on either side of the range. High-quality solar panels can exceed 23% efficiency, but the majority of photovoltaic panels available are not above 20% efficiency. The more efficient solar panels often come with a higher price tag, especially when compared to their competitors.
Who We Are
American Energy and Solar (AES) is a Las Vegas based consumer-focused aggregator of renewable energy and finance.
Through AES’s proprietary Energy Freedom Program, we have created a comprehensive residential energy package that flips traditional solar financing to truly benefit the consumer.
In other words, we take advantage of todays historically low interest rates, and couple your home’s existing loan with the total of your solar system installment. The result is a lower monthly mortgage payment and a non-existent energy bill. All at $0 down. More over, you get to keep your 26% cash rebate for your solar system installation. While most companies would take your rebate for their profit, AES wants to keep your money in your pocket! No hidden costs or fees!
Interested in seeing how much you could save? Try out AES’ custom Mortgage and Solar Calculator for more!
AES uses NABCEP certified solar professionals with decades of experience to facilitate your installation. We use A tier equipment that is backed by industry-leading warranties and certifications. AES believes that having licensed and experienced professionals that understand the comprehensive nature of rewiring an entire home is a must. AES believes that having licensed and certified master electricians, that understand the comprehensive nature of rewiring an entire home, is a must. Our team is dedicated to the finest solar installation from start to finish to ensure that the customer is given a product that is both aesthetically and functionally perfect.
Let’s go solar and save you money. Feel free to contact our experts for more information or check out AES’s Contact Page to learn more!