Solar panel systems are a great way to conserve energy, save money, and contribute to the environment by reducing electricity use. Purchasing a solar panel system has its challenges, though. There are different types of solar panels that property owners can use as well as other factors like maintenance and installation costs, which people need to take into consideration before deciding to go solar and start producing renewable energy. If you are interested in solar power, you will need to know as much as you can about solar energy systems before deciding to make the switch.
What Is Solar Energy and How Does It Work?
Solar energy captures energy from the sun and turns it into renewable energy (electricity), making it an energy efficient, affordable, and environmentally-friendly way to use energy. But how does it work?
The sun releases tiny particles of energy called photons. These photons travel from the sun to the earth in 8.5 minutes in the form of energy. This is what allows solar energy systems to use energy from the sun to power properties as an alternative to electric energy. As one of the world’s fasted growing sources of power, solar energy is becoming increasingly more popular not only because of its energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly nature but also because of the fact that it is extremely affordable.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Photons traveling from the sun hit solar panels, loosening electrons from their atoms. An electric circuit is then formed when electrons flow through the negative and positive sides of a cell on a solar panel, generating electricity. Solar panels are made up of multiple of these cells. The more panels a property has the more energy that will be generated.
What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels?
If you are considering using solar energy, you may find yourself a bit confused about the different types of solar panels available as well as what your best options are. There are many things to take into consideration when purchasing a solar PV system, such as the space you have available to install the system, how much energy you will be using, and more.
There are three main types of solar panel systems available for residential use: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin film solar panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are made of silicon. The fragments of silicon on these types of solar panels are melted together and these fragments form wafers on each panel. There are many crystals of silicon in each solar panel cell, meaning that electrons do not have as much space to move around. This means that that polycrystalline solar panels tend to have lower efficiency than monocrystalline panels, which have cells which are made of single crystals.
Things you should know about polycrystalline solar panels:
- Less expensive
- Less efficient
- Blue in color
- Manufactured by: Hanwha, Kyocera, Hyundai, SolarWorld, Trina
- Lifespan of over 25 years
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are made of silicon, which is formed into single bars. The cells on these solar panels are made of single crystals. This means that the electrons that are generating the electricity have more room to move around, making monocrystalline solar panels much more efficient than polycrystalline panels.
Things you should know about monocrystalline solar panels:
- More expensive than polycrystalline solar panels
- More efficient
- Black in color
- Manufactured by: Canadian Solar, LG, Hyundai, SunPower and SolarWorld
- Lifespan of over 25 years
Thin Film Solar Panels
Thin film solar cells have many light absorbing, thin layers. The material these solar panels are made of is very thin and lightweight. They are more flexible than traditional solar panels and are also generally less expensive. Thin film solar panels have a shorter lifespan than other traditional solar panels.
Regardless of the type of solar panel you decide to purchase, you will be saving money on your electricity bills. The type of solar panel you choose depends on a variety of factors including your personal preferences, your budget, the amount of space you have, and the type of financing option you choose. If you have limited space, you should opt for monocrystalline panels that will maximize the amount of electricity you are producing. If you have a lot of roof space or will be installing ground-mounted solar panels, poly crystalline solar panels may be a more affordable option for you.
What Is the Lifespan of a Solar Panel?
Solar panel systems are made up of solar cells. These cells are made of silicon with positive and negative layers that create an electric field. Solar panels are built to have a long lifespan, as they must be able to withstand extreme temperatures and weather. Most solar panels come with a 20-year warranty, which guarantees at least 80% of the system’s original power after 20 years. Generally, most solar panels are estimated to degrade each year by 1%; however, studies state that systems made after 2000 are more likely to degrade slower than 1% per year.
Experts state that most solar panels which were manufactured prior to 2000 are said to have a degradation rate of less than 0.5 percent per year, while panels made after 2000 are said to degrade less than 0.4% per year. What does this mean? It means that a panel which was made today will produce 92% of its original power when first bought after 20 years.
Solar panels degrade due to extreme weather conditions like frigid or scorching temperatures. Extreme weather like heavy wind and snow, as well as desert climates, tend to cause more degradation because of harsh conditions and UV exposure in hotter climates. More moderate climates tend to have much fewer degradation rates and can even retain 96% of their original power after 20 years.
Generally, most solar panels last 25 to 30 years. A solar panel system will still work after that time, though the system’s energy production will be significantly less. To maintain your solar panel system’s lifespan, be sure to maintain it regularly to ensure longer performance. Brush off snow, leaves, dirt, and debris and make sure to maximize your system’s exposure to sunlight by removing trees or anything else which may obstruct the sun’s view.