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The Major Types of Solar Panel

Types of Solar Panel

In Nigeria, we often use Monocrystlline panel in the South East part and Sometimes Poly panels in the North because the North tend to have more season or intensity of sunlight more than the south or east. This is due to the variance in performance of the various solarcell types. You can get in check the link to  get quotation and more information on what part of the country you live in and what will work best for you.

Solar cells can be classified into first, second and third generation cells.

First generation” panels include silicon solar cells. They are made from a single silicon crystal (mono-crystalline), or cut from a block of silicon that is made up of many crystals (multi-crystalline)

“Second generation” thin-film solar cells are less expensive to produce than traditional silicon solar cells as they require a decreased amount of materials for construction. The thin-film PV cells are, just as the name implies, a physically thin technology that has been applied tophotovoltaics. They are only slightly less efficient than other types.

The third generation of solar cells includes a number of thin-film technologies often described as emerging photovoltaics—most of them have not yet been commercially applied and are still in the research or development phase.

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Monocrystalline silicon (or “single-crystal silicon”, “single-crystal Si”, “mono c-Si”, or just mono-Si) is the base material for silicon chips used in virtually all electronic equipment today. Mono-Si also serves as photovoltaic, light absorbing material in the manufacture of solar cells. It consists of silicon in which the crystal lattice of the entire solid is continuous, unbroken to its edges, and free of any grain boundaries. Mono-Si can be prepared intrinsic, consisting only of exceedingly pure silicon, or doped, containing very small quantities of other elements added to change its semiconducting properties. Solar cells made of monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si), also called single-crystalline silicon (single-crystal-Si), are quite easily recognizable by an external even coloring and uniform look, indicating high-purity silicon, as you can see on the picture. A good way to separate mono- and polycrystalline solar panels is that polycrystalline solar cells look perfectly rectangular with no rounded edges.


  • Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates since they are made out of the highest-grade silicon.
  • The efficiency rates of monocrystalline solar panels are about 15-20%.
  • Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are space-efficient. They yield the highest power outputs, they also require the least amount of space compared to any other types.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels produce up to four times the amount of electricity as thin-film solar panels.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels live the longest,there’s up to 25-year warranty on monocrystalline solar panels.
  • They perform better than similarly rated polycrystalline solar panels at low-light conditions.


  • Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive.
  • If the solar panel is partially covered with shade, dirt or snow, the entire circuit can break down. Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in warm weather, Performance suffers as temperature goes up, but less so than polycrystalline solar panels.

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Polycrystalline silicon, also called polysilicon or poly-Si, is a high purity, polycrystalline form of silicon, used as a raw material by the solar photovoltaic and electronics industry. Polysilicon is produced from metallurgical grade silicon by a chemical purification process, called Siemens process. This process involves distillation of volatile silicon compounds, and their decomposition into silicon at high temperatures.


  • The process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and cost less.
  • The amount of waste silicon is less compared to monocrystalline.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels have slightly lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar panels. Their performance is slightly worse than monocrystalline solar panels in high temperatures.
  • Heat can affect the performance of solar panels and shorten their lifespans.


  • The efficiency of polycrystalline-based solar panels is about 13-16% because of lower silicon purity
  • polycrystalline solar panels are not quite as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels.
  • Lower space-efficiency, You generally need to cover a larger surface to output the same electrical power as you would with a solar panel made of monocrystalline silicon. This does not mean every monocrystalline solar panel perform better than those based on polycrystalline silicon.
  • Monocrystalline and thin-film solar panels tend to be more aesthetically pleasing since they have a more uniform look compared to the speckled blue color of polycrystalline silicon.

Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)

Thin-Film Solar Cells

Thin Film Solar Cell (TFSC) A thin-film solar cell (TFSC), also called a thin-film photovoltaic cell (TFPV), is a second generation solar cell that is made by depositing one or more thin layers, or thin film (TF) of photovoltaic material on a substrate, such as glass, plastic or metal. Thin-film solar cells are commercially used in several technologies, including cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), and amorphous and other thin-film silicon (a-Si, TF-Si). Film thickness varies from a few nanometers (nm) to tens of micrometers (µm), much thinner than thin-film’s rival technology, the conventional, first-generation crystalline silicon solar cell (c-Si), that uses silicon wafers of up to 200µm. This allows thin film cells to be flexible, lower in weight, and have less drag. It is used in building integrated photovoltaics and as semi-transparent, photovoltaic glazing material that can be laminated onto windows. Other commercial applications use rigid thin film solar panels (sandwiched between two panes of glass) in some of the world’s largest photovoltaic power stations. Thin-film has always been cheaper but less efficient than conventional c-Si technology. However, they significantly improved over the years, and lab cell efficiency for CdTe and CIGS are now beyond 21 percent, outperforming multicrystalline silicon, the dominant material currently usedin most solar PV systems. Despite these enhancements, market-share of thin-film never reached more than 20 percent in the last two decades and has been declining in recent years to about 9 percent of worldwide photovoltaic production in 2013


  • Mass-production is simple,this makes them potentially cheaper to manufacture than crystalline-based solar cells.
  • Their homogenous appearance makes them look more appealing.
  • Can be made flexible, which opens up many new potential applications.
  • High temperatures and shading have less impact on solar panel performance.
  • In situations where space is not an issue, thin-film solar panels can make sense.


  • Thin-film solar panels are in general not very useful for in most residential situations.
  • They are cheap, but they also require a lot of space.Low space-efficiency also means that the costs of PV-equipment (e.g. support structures and cables) will increase.
  • Thin-film solar panels tend to degrade faster than mono- and polycrystalline solar panels, which is why they  come with a shorter warranty.
  • Solar panels based on amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium selenide are currently the only thin-film technologies that are commercially available on the market.

Hybrid Solar Cell

Hybrid solar cells combine advantages of both organic and inorganic semiconductors. Hybrid photovoltaics have organic materials that consist of conjugated polymers that absorb light as the donor and transport holes. Inorganic materials in hybrid cells are used as the acceptor and electron transporter in the structure. The hybrid photovoltaic devices have a potential for not only low-cost by roll-to-roll processing but also for scalable solar power conversion. In hybrid solar cells, an organic material is mixed with a high electron transport material to form the photoactive layer. The two materials are assembled together in a heterojunction-type photoactive layer, which can have a greater power conversion efficiency than a single layer.

This article is solely about different types of solar panels. If you want to learn about what other equipment a photovoltaic system consists of, go to Grid-Tied, Off-Grid and Hybrid Solar Systems.


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