Everything About Different Types of Solar Panels 

In a world where climate change is now a grave concern, finding sustainable solutions to meet energy needs is a must. One such solution that has gained significant popularity is harnessing the sun’s power through solar panels. According to Research and Markets, solar energy generation in Canada registered a 20% high growth[1] compared to the previous year. A portable solar panel not only provides a clean and renewable source of electricity but also offers numerous benefits for individuals and the environment.

You can reduce your reliance on fossil fuel-generated electricity – embarking on the path of low-carbon life – ultimately saving the environment. But, before you buy a new one, understanding various types of solar panels and their pros and cons is vital to make an informed decision.

 

Types of Solar Panels 

Several types of solar panels are available in the market today; each type has different materials and serves different purposes. Let’s discuss these in detail to help you better understand which type suits your needs.

  • Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are among the most popular solar panel types made of pure silicon solar cells. They are very expensive, and their high price point is due to the unique manufacturing process. Monocrystalline solar panels are made by utilizing the Czochralski method[2], a widely used technique for growing high-quality single-crystal ingots. The Czochralski method, named after the Polish scientist Jan Czochralski, involves several steps:

  • Preparation of the Silicon Seed Crystal: A small silicon crystal, known as the seed crystal, is first prepared. It is a starting point for the growth of the larger crystal.
  • Creating the Melt: High-purity silicon chunks are melted in a crucible, typically made of quartz, in a controlled environment.
  • Dipping the Seed Crystal: The seed crystal is carefully dipped into the molten silicon. As it is slowly withdrawn, the molten silicon solidifies around the seed crystal, forming a cylindrical ingot.
  • Crystal Growth: The ingot is slowly rotated and pulled upwards from the molten silicon. This gradual pulling motion allows the crystal to grow cylindrical.
  • Cooling and Slicing: Once the desired length of the crystal ingot is achieved, it is cooled down slowly to prevent cracking. The cooled ingot is then sliced into thin wafers.
  • Solar Cell Production: The wafers are further processed to create individual solar cells. This involves etching, doping, applying metal contacts, and adding anti-reflective coatings.

Monocrystalline solar panels offer several other advantages, including high power output and compact size, which means it’s a perfect option for you if you don’t have much space. They are also recognized for their superior performance, longevity, and the ability to tolerate extreme temperatures.

  • Polycrystalline Solar Panels

As the name suggests, polycrystalline solar panels are made of multiple solar cells, and that’s why they’re also known as multi-crystalline solar panels. They are typically made by melting silicon fragments and pouring them into a square mould. Once cooled, this silicone is sliced to make organized wafers to create polycrystalline solar panels. They appear blue due to their manufacturing process; however, the shade varies from panel to panel.

Also, these solar panels are made of multiple fragments, so their purity is way less than monocrystalline solar panels. Consequently, they are slightly less efficient in converting sunlight into electricity and require more space to generate the same amount of power.

They also have lower heat tolerance, so their performance decreases in high-temperature environments. But despite these limitations, polycrystalline solar panels remain an ideal choice for many because of their affordability and satisfactory performance in moderate climate conditions.

  • Thin-film Solar Panels

If you want a comparatively cost-effective solar panel, thin-film solar panels are best for you. These solar panels are made by placing one or multiple films of photovoltaic (PV) material on a substrate. The PV material used in these panels may include amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), or organic photovoltaic materials.

As the manufacturing process of thin-film solar panels doesn’t require many resources, they are cheaper and more flexible. You can use them for industrial applications or other energy-requiring tasks such as powering a boat, a tiny home, etc.

However, thin-film solar panels are much larger than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, making them unsuitable for residential installation. Overall, thin film solar panels are great, especially in applications requiring flexibility, lightweight design, or low-light performance.

  • Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels

Amorphous silicon solar panels are a type of thin-film solar panels with silicon-based photovoltaic technology, similar to conventional solar panels. However, they differ greatly in their structure from other solar panels. Instead of using layered crystalline silicon wafers in solar cells, amorphous solar panels have a non-crystalline silicon layer applied onto a thin substrate, such as glass, plastic, or metal.

This design produces a flexible and lightweight conductive material that can be shaped and tailored to various applications. The most common applications of an amorphous silicon solar panel include calculators, watches, and other gadgets or operations that require low power.

  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe) Solar Panels

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) solar panels are highly popular thin-film solar panels in the global market. These solar panels consist of p–n heterojunctions, which comprise a p-doped layer of Cadmium Telluride and an n-doped layer of Cadmium Sulfide (CdS) or magnesium zinc oxide (MZO).

While these materials are cost-effective, they can also be hazardous and environmentally harmful if not disposed of properly. The manufacturing process of CdTe solar panels has three main components. These are the semiconductor layer, a protective layer, and a conductive layer. First, the photovoltaic material performs the crucial task of converting solar energy into direct current (DC) electricity.

The conductive sheet facilitates the flow of DC energy between solar cells, increasing voltage and enabling the connection of CdTe panels to photovoltaic (PV) systems. Lastly, a Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO) layer, composed of SnO2:F, is deposited to protect the CdTe absorber and ensure the solar cell’s complete safeguarding.

  • Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) Solar Panels

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar panels are a type of thin-film solar panels used to convert sunlight into electricity. These solar panels comprise a thin layer of semiconductor material that includes copper, indium, gallium, and selenide. CiGS panels are lightweight and flexible, making them suitable for a variety of applications.

The manufacturing process of CiGS solar panels involves depositing a thin layer of the semiconductor material onto a substrate. Typically, the substrate material can be anything, such as glass or flexible plastic. This thin-film layer is then patterned into a series of cells to capture sunlight and generate electricity.

While CiGS panels typically have lower efficiency compared to silicon-based panels, they have the advantage of better performance in low-light conditions. Additionally, their lower temperature coefficient can produce electricity more efficiently at high temperatures. So, if you live in high-temperature areas, such as Victoria, BC, the warmest city in Canada, you may find CiGS as a good option!

Comparison of Types of Solar Panels 

Here’s a comparison table showing different portable solar panel types and how they differ from each other:

Solar Panel Type Efficiency Advantages Disadvantages
Monocrystalline Solar Panels 20% (Average)

*Jackery’s solar panels can reach 25%

Suitable for commercial use, have a high overall lifetime value A little bit expensive
Polycrystalline Solar Panels 15% Very affordable, less wastage during the manufacturing process Sensitive to high temperatures, low lifespan compared to other types
Thin-Film Solar Panels 7 to 10% Highly flexible, easy to produce, low cost Short warranties and lifespan
Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels 6 to 8% Durable, versatile, flexible Lower efficiency
Cadmium Telluride Solar Panels 9 to 11% Very efficient, low price due to high availability of manufacturing material The toxicity of cadmium occupies vast space for the installation
Copper Indium Gallium Selenide Solar Panels 13 to 15% Good temperature tolerance coefficient, thin design, high efficiency Manufacturing material, such as Indium, isn’t widely available

 

Factors to Look at When Purchasing a Portable Solar Panel

Now that you understand the types of portable solar panels, let’s discuss a few factors you must consider before making the final decision.

  • Type of Panel

Different types of solar panels are available, such as monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin film, etc. So, the first thing to keep in your mind while purchasing a portable solar panel is the type of solar panel you need. If you have enough budget and require a solar panel with high efficiency, monocrystalline solar panels are the best. However, if you are searching for a slightly less efficient but flexible and affordable solar panel, go for polycrystalline or thin-film.

  • Panel Size

Solar panels have different shapes and sizes, so you must be careful when purchasing the right option for a home or commercial building. Evaluate the solar panels’ physical dimensions and wattage output to ensure they fit your available space and energy requirements. Also, consider the number of panels you need to achieve desired energy production and if they fit on your roof or property.

  • Maintenance Services 

Solar panels consist of components that degrade over time, necessitating regular maintenance. While cleaning and debris removal can be managed easily, professional assistance is required for component checks. Numerous companies offer annual maintenance as part of a package, but it is essential to inquire and confirm its inclusion if not specified.

  • Roof Compatibility

Roof compatibility is a crucial consideration when installing solar panels. Ensure your roof has the right orientation and tilt for optimal sun exposure and no shade or obstructions. It’s because the maximum sunlight a portable solar panel receives, the more energy it produces. Also, assess the structural integrity of your roof to check whether it will support the additional weight of the solar panels.

  • Durability

Another thing you should consider when finalizing a solar panel for your home is its durability. Choose panels made with durable materials, such as tempered glass and robust aluminum frames, that can withstand harsh weather conditions. The monocrystalline solar panels have greater temperature and weather resistance and are the best in this regard. Don’t forget to verify if the panels have undergone testing and certification by recognized organizations to guarantee their durability and performance.

Jackery’s 100W Portable Solar Panel – Your Ultimate Solar Panel Option

When picking the best portable solar panel option, Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel takes the lead for many reasons. Boasting an impressive conversion efficiency of up to 24.3%, this solar panel is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and offers reliable power during unexpected outages. It has a mere 9.1 lbs weight and features a foldable design with a convenient carry handle, which makes it incredibly portable.

Setting it up is hassle-free and just takes just a few seconds, allowing you to swiftly harness solar energy for your Jackery power station. With the added convenience of a TPE rubber handle, it’s effortlessly transportable on all your off-grid adventures. Additionally, as it’s equipped with two sturdy kickstands, the SolarSaga 100 can be securely placed on any surface. Let’s discuss some key features of this portable solar panel:

Key Features

  • Monocrystalline silicon solar cells for higher energy conversion rate (up to 24.3%)
  • Multi-layered cell technology for improved performance
  • Durable ETFE-laminated case to extend the lifespan
  • IP65 water-resistant (protects from water splashing, but not for heavy rain or soaking)
  • Zippered pocket for holding power cords and covering power port
  • Compatible with Jackery Explorer 240/300/500/1000/1500/2000 Pro/3000 Pro portable power station (sold separately)
  • Ideal for off-grid camping and unexpected power outages
  • 1* USB-A(5V, 2.4A) output port for charging 2 small devices directly

 

Conclusion

A portable solar panel makes your life easier by reducing reliance on traditional electricity sources and helps you build a greener world. There are multiple types of solar panels, such as monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film, etc. So, if you want an affordable and high-quality portable solar panel, Jackery got you! Jackery aims to empower everyone to live an off-grid and eco-friendly life, harnessing the sun’s power.

Their solar panels are highly efficient and made of top-notch material. When you become Jackery’s member, they offer you a $200 off coupon for your first registration. Not only this, but you also receive product care reminders so you don’t forget the maintenance of your solar panel. Besides solar panels, they offer a wide range of products, including solar generators and solar power stations. Get in touch with Jackery and grab your favorite solar products!

Reference:

[1] https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5305466/canada-solar-energy-market-growth-trends-and#:~:text=Solar%20Photovoltaic%20(PV)%20Segment%20is%20Expected%20to%20Dominate%20the%20Market&text=As%20per%20BP%20statistics%2C%20solar,generation%20in%202021%20in%20Canada.

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/czochralski-process

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