Solar Tribune

Which Solar Panels are Best for Me?

Once you’ve decided to invest in a residential solar energy system, the next big decision to make is choosing the type of solar panels that work best for your home.

Things to Consider

There are a handful of factors that you should weigh when evaluating what type of panels best fit your needs.

  • Efficiency: How efficiently do the panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity? If you have limited roof space, high efficiency is a must.   The higher the percentage, the better the panels are at converting the sun’s energy into electricity.


  • Aesthetic: If looking to maintain or improve the look of your roof, then solar tiles (or similar building-integrated photovoltaics) may be a better fit for you than traditional solar PV panels. Tiles are more stylish than your standard solar panel, but they come at a price premium. Solar tiles are most economical if you are already in the market for a new roof. Visit our page comparing solar tiles to solar panels to learn more.


  • Durability/Longevity/Warranty: Most high-quality solar panels will come with a warranty ranging from 15 to 25 years. It is important to note that a warranty will only be honored so long as the company remains in operation. This underscores the importance of buying solar panels that are manufactured by well-established companies.


  • Temperature Coefficient: The temperature coefficient of a solar panel reveals how much power the panel will lose when its surface temperature increases by a certain amount. This is an important consideration if you live in a hot climate, as solar panels produce less power in extreme heat.

Ultimately, cost is going to be a major factor in determining what solar panels you end up putting on your roof. The cost of your solar panels will vary based on which of the above factors you place a premium on. As always, be sure to consult with your solar contractor to get a good sense of the best solar panels that fit within your budget.

Types of Panels

Most solar cells that are used in commercially available solar panels are comprised of silicon, but these silicon-based solar cells come primarily in three varieties – monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and amorphous silicon cells (thin film).

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells are the most commonly available type of solar cell used in solar panels. Monocrystalline solar cells are slightly more efficient, and also typically come at a higher price. Monocrystalline-based solar panels are distinctly black in appearance, while polycrystalline panels have a deep blue hue.

Photo source: EnergySage

The difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is not overly significant, but the marginally better efficiency of monocrystalline panels is worth noting. If your roof has a relatively small footprint and you can afford them, then monocrystalline solar panels may be a good fit to fully optimize your solar energy production capabilities.

Thin film amorphous panels are less efficient than “mono” and “poly” solar panels, and therefore require much more rooftop space to be effective. They do, however, perform better in low light conditions and in extreme heat. If you live somewhere with long summers and your roof is partially shaded, then amorphous thin film panels may be worth considering.

Photo source: Alibaba

Solar panels are a serious investment that require thoughtful consideration when evaluating what type of panels and what specific features best fit your home. Be sure to do your homework, and consult with a reputable solar contractor who can walk you through your options.

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panels


Also known as single-crystal silicon solar panels, monocrystalline panels are the most expensive but most efficient solar panel. Monocrystalline solar cells are rounded and cut from one crystal of silicone, creating panels that are uniform in color (usually dark blue or black).

  • lasts 25+ years
  • return electricity rate of 15-17%
  • best option for limited roof space

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Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

multicrystalline solar cell

Also known as multi-crystal silicon solar panels, polycrystalline panels are made by fusing cells from multiple silicon crystals and then pouring the hot silicon into a mold. The square solar cells take up less space than the rounded single-crystal cells on the panel itself, but they are less efficient than the monocrystalline panels.

  • lasts 25+ years
  • return electricity rate of 12-14%
  • less expensive than monocrystalline

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Thin Film Solar


Thin film solar is cheaper than solar cells because they are made by coating a piece of glass or steel with a thin layer of amorphous (non-crystalline) silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium, or diselenide . But since thin film solar is less efficient, more are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as a crystalline panel.

  • return electricity rate of 9-13%
  • panels are lighter, more flexible and versatile but less durable
  • requires more surface area than crystalline panels

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