All Solar Panels Are Not The Same

A solar panel saves on your electricity bill

Solar panels are an effective way towards making your home more energy efficient.

If you can afford them you can make a valuable contribution towards a sustainable planet and your pocket!

Usually made from silicone, photovoltaic cells generate a current using the sun's rays to displace electrons.

The displacement of electrons results in an electric current which can be used as a standalone source of electricity or as a supplement to a home's energy needs.

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Because solar panels draw their current directly from the sun, they area great option for the environmentally conscious homeowner.

There are three basic types of solar panels for homes available for purchase:

  • monocrystalline,
  • polycrystalline,
  • and amorphous/thin-film.

Review the information below to help you determine which is right for your home. 


Amorphous solar panels are the cheapest of all the solar cells. Due to their poor voltage density, amorphous solar panels are not recommended for homeowners who limited space.

In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that an amorphous solar cell efficiency may start to degrade after only 5 years. 

The efficiency of production for amorphous solar cells average only around 5% to 7% but the very low price more than compensates for it's low efficiency. This works to the advantage of amorphous cells because they have higher output levels than crystalline silicone cells in low light conditions.


Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive technology, but are the best option for long-term solar setups.

They provide the greatest longevity, performance, and efficiency. When you want to be sure you’re producing the highest wattage per square foot, these are the modules to rely on.

Monocrystalline solar cells are made by slicing very thin slicing wafers (150mm in diameter and 350 microns 'thick') from a high-purity single crystal boule. They can provide around 25 years of use at near original efficiency. 

Monocrystalline's efficiency is the highest of all silicone solar cells at approximately 14% to 17%.


The polycrystalline solar cell provides exceptional power density at mid-level pricing.

These cells have significantly higher efficiency than amorphous solar cells, and nearly match monocrystalline solar cells in terms of voltage. 

Polycrystalline cells have an estimated 20 year lifespan at near original efficiency.  The Polycrystalline photovoltaic cell makes it's reputation on being more affordable than the Monocrystalline cells but nearly matching their efficiency by producing 13% to 15% efficiencies.

Crystalline panels have about 78-80% of market share in 2010 (

Remember, crystalline solar cells are most effective in high-light conditions.  Be sure to optimize your light absorption by place the panels so they face true south (unless you are in the southern hemisphere, in which case, they should face true north. 

After determining which type of solar cell is most suitable for your home, the next step is to see if you are eligible for any incentive. Go to theLiving Database on Renewable Energy here to see how you can reduce your purchase cost or find other incentives on energy efficiency..  Some states, such as California and New Hampshire, offer up to $6,000 in rebates for solar equipped homes.

Go here to Double your benefits. Renewable energy + energy audits get you out of the red

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