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What types of solar electric panel are available?

Q:

What types of solar electric panel are available?

A:

There are several different types of PV panel available right now and more are being developed as you read this.

Silicon is the base material for the commercial PV products now available. It comes in three "flavours": single crystal, poly-crystal and amorphous. The efficiencies of the material range from as much as 20% for single crystal, 18% for poly-crystal and 10% for amorphous. The efficiency refers to the ability of the PV panel to convert sunshine into electricity. The higher the efficiency, the smaller the area of PV panels required to deliver a given wattage. Also, single crystal cells last the longest, followed by poly-crystal, followed by amorphous.

Each of the types of crystal are fabricated into panels of different capacities. The recent trend is for larger, higher capacity panels. 7-10 years ago standard panels were 60 and 75 watts. Now panels of 260 and 310 watts are common.