types of solar panels

5 Types of Solar Panels to Consider

Using solar panels in your building design is a great way to incorporate sustainable architecture choices. Read on to learn about the five types of solar panels used in buildings today.


   If every residential building in the U.S. were to be equipped with solar panels, those panels could generate 75 percent of the energy used by the nation's homes.

While solar panels on residential properties might make sense, the high cost of solar panels means this isn't always an option. But when it comes to commercial building design, solar panels make perfect sense.

If you're interested in adding solar panels to your building design, keep reading. We're bringing you what you need to know about 5 common types of solar panels.

1. Monocrystalline Solar Panels

When many people think of what solar panels should look like, Monocrystalline Solar Panels are often what they picture. These panels feature a dark face and rounded edges.

Monocrystalline is the purest form of solar panels. This makes them some of the most efficient models on the market today. Some may even reach 20 percent efficiency, though most achieve less than 18 percent.

Because these are so efficient, these solar panels occupy less space while still producing plenty of power. This makes them ideal for tight spaces, or for making the most of a space.

The many features of these panels also mean that they are one of the most expensive solar panel types.

2. Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Where Monocrystalline panels are easily identifying by their dark look, Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells feature a blue, speckled face. Rather than having rounded edges, these panels are squared.

As the name suggests, Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels are made from melted raw silicon. This process and the cut of the panels means that they are among the cheapest type of solar panels available.

Polycrystalline Silicon Panels are less efficient than Monocrystalline panels, but the difference may in most instances, the difference won't be enough to make it worth the extra cost.

Choosing between these two options often comes down to space available, as Monocrystalline Panels offer more power in a smaller size panel.

3. Multi-Junction Solar Cells

If you want the highest efficiency possible from your solar panels, Multi-Junction Solar Panels are your best option.

While most different solar panels only offer up to 20 percent efficiency, with Multi-Junction, up to 40 percent efficiency can be achieved.

That's because they have layers of semiconductors. Each layer conducts a different wavelength of light, which reduces the amount of light that escapes rather than being converted.

4. Thin-Film Solar Cells

If you're looking for a more inexpensive solar panel option, and aren't as worried about long-term durability, Thin-Film Solar Cells are a great option.

Thinner than most different types of solar panels, these panels are cheap to make and highly flexible.

One downside to these panels is that they must be larger than other types of panels in order to produce the same amount of power.

5. Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell

Growing in popularity are Cadmium Telluride Solar Cells. They require less water than other solar panel types, making them ideal for areas prone to drought.

One drawback to Cadmium Telluride panels is that they are toxic, which can make them dangerous for some situations, though they may still work for many commercial purposes.

Choosing from the Different Types of Solar Panels

When it comes to choosing from the different types of solar panels available today, the choice often comes down to your buildings' unique design, location, and needs.

If you haven't started designing your ideal building yet, and are dreaming of cutting down your carbon footprint and energy bills by integrating solar panels into the design, we can help. Contact us today to start bringing your building design idea to life.


About The Author

Hi, we're the Designblendz team! We blend overlapping design disciplines to raise the standard to design, visualize, and build virtual and physical environments.