Solar Panel Type
Knowing the different types of solar panels available can help you narrow down your options. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most popular. They’re the most efficient and have a simple, low-profile design ideal for residential homes. Monocrystalline panels are created from pure silicon and come in two different variations: passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) and bifacial. PERC panels have a conductive layer added to the backside of cells to increase energy absorption. PERC panels are most commonly used in rooftop solar systems.
Bifacial panels absorb light on both sides at a higher rate than PERC panels. For this reason, they’re typically reserved for ground-mount systems that expose both sides of the panels.
Polycrystalline solar panels use older technology than mono panels and are a cheaper option. However, these panels are less efficient than monocrystalline offerings and, in turn, require more panels to power your home.
Thin-film panels are the standard for small DIY solar panel kits. They’re also the cheapest solar panel option. The manufacturing process for these panels is less complicated, so they take little time to make. They’re also the least efficient panel type, but they have practical uses. Small DIY solar projects, such as RVs and small off-grid systems, use thin-film solar panels.
Solar panel efficiency is vital to your solar energy system’s performance. Higher efficiencies indicate that the solar panel can convert a larger percentage of sunlight throughout the day. The more sunlight that gets converted, the more power your system generates to run your home. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says solar panels typically fall between 16% and 22% efficiency. The most efficient panels cost the most, but they can be worth it because they’ll save you money on your electric bills long term.
Standard solar panel warranties cover the product and its performance. However, these warranties may not always be separate. Some companies provide comprehensive warranties that cover both the product and its performance in one contract. Sadly, warranty coverage for DIY solar panels is limited since you’re taking on the installation yourself.
A standard product warranty lasts for 10–12 years. Some companies offer extended warranties for 25 or more years. Other companies only offer extended product warranties if you use one of their authorized dealers or installers.
The standard performance warranty guarantees 90% production for 10 years and 80% through year 25. Some premium solar panels guarantee 90% or higher output for 25 years. These warranties typically include coverage for any dips in performance as well. If your solar panels are not performing to the standards outlined in your warranty, the solar installer will send you the required parts for free repair or upgrade.