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There are several technologies used to make solar cells, the building blocks of panels as used in Renewable Energysystems. The main types currently on the market are:

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

  •  Monocrystalline solar panels are often the most expensive due to the manufacturing process, which uses large amounts of highly purified silicon and a great deal of energy. Monocrystalline solar cells are about 13 - 25% efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. Today, however, laboratory tests are being conducted to achieve higher efficiencies.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels (a.k.a Multicrystalline)

  •  Polycrystalline cell efficiencies range between 11 - 17% so polycrystalline solar panels slightly less expensive than monocrystalline ones on a price per Watt basis.

String Ribbon Solar Panels


  • String ribbon solar panels use less silicon in the cell manufacturing process than the other crystalline types and achieve efficiencies in the 12 - 18% range.

Amorphous Solar Panels (a.k.a Thin-film)

  • Amorphous solar panels or thin-film amorphous silicon (ASi), are not constructed from individual cell, but are made by depositing a photo-sensitive compound onto a substrate. While these solar panels have lower efficiencies (usually 7 - 10%), they offer certain advantages. They can often be used in hotter climates since they suffer less power loss than other types under hot conditions. Additionally, the Amorphous technology does not use the typical "glass sandwich" construction, allowing for the creation of Flexible solar panels which are also very durable. Laboratory tests are being conducted in achieving higher efficiencies too like it's cystalline counterparts.

CIGS Solar Panels

  • The CIGS technology, or Copper Indium Gallium di-Selenide, uses no silicon at all, and can be made into panels with or without discrete cells. CIGS technology has been incorporated into a relatively new manufacturing process for commercial rooftop installations. The cells have been manufactured into cylinders and placed in tubes rather than the traditional rectangular modules. The advantage of this tubular format is that the cells can be perpendicular to the sun a greater number of hours per day, thereby increasing the energy production.

There are also Hybrid solar panels which uses both crystalline and thin-film technologies to increase energy production; these modules boast efficiencies up to 19%.