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The Types of Solar Panels for Houses: A Simple Guide

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The Types of Solar Panels for Houses: A Simple Guide

Did you know that the first solar panel invention was announced on April 25, 1954, in New Jersey? If you are thinking of buying solar panels for your house, then you might be feeling overwhelmed with all the solar panel options. We have put together this guide to share the different types of solar panels to help educate you further on your choices.

Read on to learn more.

Solar Roof Shingles

These are one of the newer solar panel options that are becoming more popular because they mimic asphalt shingles, but they are actually panels operating a solar energy system. The great thing is that solar shingles are just as durable as regular shingles and they also protect your home and roof, able to withstand pretty much any type of weather element.

Depending on the solar shingles you choose, some will produce between 13 and up to 67 watts of solar energy. It is easy to integrate solar shingles and they usually come with an app connectivity along with software that makes it easy for homeowners to track their productivity and efficiency. 

The main drawback of solar shingles is that in many places there is a waitlist to get your hands on them. Another drawback is that they are more expensive than any other types of solar panels. The average cost to install a solar shingle roof system is about $6/W where a traditional system is around $2.65/W.

Keep in mind that this cost is a drastic change from back in 1977 where it cost $77 per watt for the most simple solar cell.

Monocrystalline

These solar panel cells are made of pure silicon, which makes them a bit more efficient. The cylindrical shape also helps each solar cell achieve better efficiency. Silicon ingots are carved into wafers with round, smooth cell edges.

The way they are formed and shaped allows them to produce more electricity, allowing you to need fewer of them. Because they are more effective, they also cost more compared to polycrystalline solar panels. They are around $0.50 more per wattage.

Monocrystalline panels tend to come with longer warranties because they usually last longer.

Polycrystalline

Polycrystalline panels are a combination of silicon crystals instead of just one type of silicon like its counterpart polycrystalline panels. The fragments of silicone are all melted down and then poured into a mold. Because the process is not very wasteful, these panels are more affordable than other solar options.

One of the cons of this option is that they are less efficient because they can’t generate as much electricity from the sun. They also can’t operate as well in high-temperature environments. This option is not best in warm weather because of this, so if you live in an area with heat year round, you might want to stay away from this option.

The reason these are so popular is because of their pricing. They typically cost around $1/W to install.

Thin Film Solar Cells

This panel option is even newer than the solar shingle option, and as of the writing of this post, they are not used very often in homes yet. The way they are made is by rolling out layers of silicon, copper indium gallium selenide, and cadmium telluride (semiconductor materials) as a film on a surface.

One of the cons is that thin film solar panels require a lot of roof space. They are also less efficient than crystalline solar panels and they degrade faster than other options, so they tend to come with a shorter warranty than other panels.

A major pro is that these panels are more customizable and there is the option to manufacture them into solar shingles.

Bifacial Panels

Bifacial panels have the ability to produce power when either of its sides receives sunlight because the back of the cells are also exposed. This increases their efficiency as long as they are installed with the right amount of tilt and against reflective surfaces.

The performance of bifacial panels depends on the surroundings. For example, how many trees are in your yard, amount of space to tilt the panels, etc. In the future, these panels are expected to become one of the top dominant technologies because they are capable of receiving sunlight from both the front and back, increasing how much power they produce.

Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) Panels

These are not commonly used in homes, but they can be, they are mainly used for commercial buildings. CPV panels can capture plenty of sunlight because they are equipped with mirrors, lenses, and solar trackers. They also have cooling systems that help the sunlight that is captured be converted as efficiently as possible.

Thanks to the added equipment, these panels are more difficult and more expensive to maintain than other panels. For this reason, when they are made, manufacturers use photovoltaic cells that are the most efficient. This extra efficiency helps justify any added maintenance costs.

In aeronautics, CPV panels have been in high demand because of their extremely high efficiency rate of around 46%.

Double Glass Panels

These panels are defined by the way the cells are housed instead of by the type of photovoltaic cells they use. Normally, cells are connected into modules on a polymer sheet and then encased with a metal frame. Double glass panels don’t use a polymer back-sheet and sometimes don’t use the metal frame either.

The glass is heat treated to lower the reactivity and the degradation rates. This process makes the panels more reliable when it comes to output and it’s extremely durable. Double glass panels are normally frameless, so this lowers the cost of production.

The frameless build also means that the panels don’t have to be grounded, but installers have to be more careful during the installation process to keep them from breaking. Once they are in place and installed, they are as sturdy as panels that are framed, but they are easier to clean and less susceptible to corrosion.

Which Solar Panel Is Best?

This all depends on personal preference and power needs, but a few facts to keep in mind can make it easier for you to determine which panel is best for you. If you’re looking at crystalline solar panels, they have the highest efficiency of all panels. Polycrystalline panels are around 15% efficient, and they are the more budget friendly option. 

Monocrystalline panels are around 15%-20% efficient. Thin film solar panels are the most resilient and best for unique roof styles because they are the most customizable of all options.

If you have limited space to install your panels and you want to maximize your electricity bill savings, then a high efficiency monocrystalline solar panel system might be the best option. For those with plenty of space for their install, they can save money upfront by installing lower efficiency, and budget friendly polycrystalline panels.

A roof with an odd or unique shape that can’t handle the weight of traditional solar equipment will do best with thin-film panels. Once you decide which is the best option for your household power needs, then you can look at financing your system with SmartStart to help make it more affordable.

What Are Solar Cells Made Of?

The chemical element most solar cells are made out of is silicon. Silicon has semiconducting properties and in most types of solar cells the silicon is found in a crystal form. Small amounts of impurities are added to the silicon crystals because 100% pure silicon doesn’t transfer electric current.

The impurities added are typically boron and phosphorus. Silicon that has phosphorus added is called N-type (for negative) because it has a surplus of electrons. When boron is added to the silicon, this is called the P-type (for positive) because it lacks in electrons.

Solar cells also have an anti-reflective coating because silicon’s natural luster causes sunlight to reflect off of it and this defeats the purpose of trying to create electrical power. All the silicon crystals are grouped inside an electric field, and then a glass is used to cover and protect all the components from mother nature.

What Is Efficiency?

How well solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it to electrical energy is what we call the efficiency of the panel. Light has the ability to travel in different wavelengths, but not everything is absorbed by the solar panels. The typical band gap energy is measured in electron volts (eV) which is absorbed and then transformed into electricity by the solar panel.

Internal resistance of a material is another problem when it comes to energy efficiency because this resistance results in energy loss.

Some panels are covered with a metal grid because this allows the electrons to move easier in the electric field. Moving around allows the electrons to complete the circuit and create the electrical power your home needs.

Choosing a Solar Inverter

The solar inverter that you opt for will make a difference in how efficient your entire system is. Solar inverters are a critical component because they are how the DC electricity gathered by the panels is converted into AC electricity, which is what we use in our homes.

The three basics kinds of inverters include string, microinverters, and power optimizers. The most common are string inverters, and they are the most budget friendly of the three common options. These are best for well-lit roofs that have a flat pane and little shade throughout the day.

Microinverters are more expensive but have a higher energy-efficiency rating. These panels operate autonomously or independently.

Power optimizers are more moderately priced and they perform well even if the home is partially shaded. These inverters condition power for more efficiency.

Mounting

Not only do you have to decide which solar panels are best along with which inverter, you also have to choose the best mounting for your panels. The most common mounting options include track and fixed.

The most popular option is the fixed mount because it works well even with pitched roofs. Fixed mounts are also less expensive but they can make the panels less efficient.

Track mounts are more efficient because they can be placed to absorb most of the sun-rays throughout the day. These mounts also work well with flat roofs and in flat spaces. Unfortunately, this is the more expensive option if you are on a tighter budget.

For homes that want to install their panels in an alternate location like their backyard, track mounts are the perfect option.

Quick Guide on How They Work

First, the energy from the rays of the sun are absorbed by the solar panels. The solar panels convert that sunlight into DC electricity before it is used to power a home. Then, the solar inverter converts that DC electricity into AC electricity like we mentioned earlier.

The AC electricity has the capability of traveling long distances and unlike DC electricity it can flow in multiple directions. The inverters are sometimes installed behind each panel or some people prefer to install one large inverter where all the electricity is collected and converted into usable electricity and then distributed throughout the home.

Feeling Like a Pro About the Types of Solar Panels

Now that you are familiar with the different types of solar panels, you can make an informed decision of which home solar panels you prefer. Now you too can take advantage of the most abundant energy resource that is found on earth. An incredible amount of 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth non-stop.

Did our guide help you out? Please continue browsing the rest of this section for our other guides and tips.

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The Latest Kitchen Remodeling Ideas That Will Inspire You in 2022

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The Latest Kitchen Remodeling Ideas That Will Inspire You in 2022

Archeologists may have recently discovered the earliest evidence of cooked food – glazed cooking pots that are believed to be over 10,000 years old! Even if your kitchen is much more modern, you may still be thinking of remodeling this important room.

But what are some kitchen remodeling ideas that could give you inspiration? You’ll likely be keeping this kitchen style for many years, so you’ll want to design a space that you enjoy cooking in each day.

The good news is that there are a huge number of options when it comes to this type of home renovation project, and we’re going to highlight some stunning kitchen ideas.

Let’s take a look.

Brighten Your Cupboard Spaces

Many cupboards have solid doors that don’t allow you to see what’s inside, and this can also darken the space depending on their paint color. However, you could use glass cupboard doors and small internal lights to illuminate these storage areas.

This can make your kitchen brighter and also create a unique talking point when guests come to your home for a meal.

Add a Kitchen Island

You could make your residential kitchen a social area by adding a kitchen island. Not only can people gather around the different sides of the island, but you’ll also be able to prepare food on a chopping board on the island’s countertop.

Put some comfortable stools around your kitchen island to encourage people to sit up while you make breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Maximize Storage Space

As a smart homeowner, you’ll be keen to have plenty of kitchen storage space. You can use solutions such as adding shelves to cupboards that would have previously been single-level spaces. It can also help to look at the available vertical space in your kitchen and install floating shelves on your walls to hold pictures and ornaments.

This can help you expand your storage capacity in a stylish manner.

Update Your Appliances

It’s easy to become so familiar with your favorite kitchen appliances that you continue to use the same ones for years. But, technology develops quickly, and you could benefit from using new kitchen tools that can help you make meals more quickly and with less hassle.

If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen appliances, you can get expert guidance from Kitchenliner.

Make a List of Your Favorite Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

There are plenty of terrific kitchen remodeling ideas that you can use to improve your cooking space. Adding extra light sources can brighten your kitchen, and you can enjoy chatting around a kitchen island while preparing food. Having extra storage space can be useful for storing your kitchen essentials, while upgrading your appliances can make it easier to achieve tasty cooking results.

Your kitchen could soon be your favorite room in your home!

Before you rush off to remodel your kitchen, be sure to read more of our helpful blog posts.

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