The 5 Types Of House Solar Panels: What You Need To Know

4 Types of house solar panels

Are you thinking about making the switch to solar energy for your home? Do you want to know the different house solar panels to choose from so you can make the best decision?

In this blog post, we will look at five of the most common types of house solar panels. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea about which is best to install on your home.

What Are The 5 Different Types Of House Solar Panels?

1. Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels

Also known as monosilicon, monocrystalline solar cells are made up of wafers that are cut from a single crystal. They’re the most common for residential solar panel systems.

These cells offer the highest efficiency compared to other photovoltaic (PV) cells because they are made with higher-grade silicon material and have fewer impurities. They also provide a more uniform look as each cell is cut from a black cylindrical rod.

The downside to this type of solar panel system is that it costs more than other types. They also take up more space per watt since they require higher-grade silicon material. 

A monocrystalline solar system is ideal for small rooftops with limited space due to their high energy density. This means you can generate a lot of power with fewer panel units. They also perform well in low light and high temperatures, making them suitable for hot climates. 

2. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline cells are made of multiple crystals and can be identified by their bluish hue and square edges.

These cells cost less than monocrystalline ones because they use lower-grade silicon material, can be produced faster, and have a simpler manufacturing process. However, they have lower efficiency ratings than monocrystalline due to impurities within the crystal structure. This means it takes more area per watt, making them better suited for larger rooftops.

These panels don’t perform quite as well in high-temperature conditions. But, they absorb light well, even on cloudy days or in locations with low sun exposure. 

3. Thin-Film Solar Panels 

Thin-film solar panels are made up of a thin layer of semiconductor material, such as amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), or copper gallium indium diselenide (CIGS).

Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) thin-film solar panels

Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) panels take up less space and don’t need a lot of upkeep, making them perfect for small areas or places that do not get a lot of sunlight. They can turn light into electricity no matter what the angle of the light is, and they even work on cloudy days or when it is shady.

However, this type of panel does not work as well as other thin film panels and does not last as long.

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) thin-film solar panels

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) panels are made of two layers. One layer is made from cadmium telluride crystals, and the other layer is made from cadmium sulfide. Cells that are efficient generate up to 15% more electricity when exposed to the same amount of sunlight. They also tend to be more affordable.

The downside of CdTe cells is that they contain toxic materials that need to be disposed of correctly.

Copper gallium indium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar panels

Copper gallium indium diselenide (CIGS) panels tend to have an efficiency rate between 14%–20%, which means that they can generate more power than a standard amorphous cell in the same amount of time and space. Additionally, CIGS cells are lightweight and flexible, making them easy to install. Their long lifespan also makes them a great investment.

However, thin-film solar panels are not recommended for residential use because they tend to have lower efficiency rates.

Copper gallium indium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar panels

Copper gallium indium diselenide (CIGS) panels have an efficiency rate between 14%–20%. This means they can generate more power than a standard amorphous cell in the same amount of time and space. Additionally, CIGS cells are lightweight and flexible, making them easy to install. Their long lifespan also makes them a great investment.

However, thin-film solar panels are not recommended for residential use because they tend to have lower efficiency rates.

4. Solar Roof Shingles

Solar roof shingles

Solar roof shingles are new and not yet perfect. They have tiles with cells that can turn sunlight into electricity.

What sets these shingles apart from other solar systems is that they look like normal roof tiles. However, due to their experimental nature and higher cost, the return on investment is not great at this time. 

5. Passive Emitter & Rear Cell Panels (PERC)

PERC panels are a newer type of PV technology that uses “pass-through” cells to capture twice as much sunlight. This makes them more efficient but also more expensive. They also tend to require more maintenance due to the extra components involved. 

How Solar Panels Work

Beautiful blue house with solar panels

Solar panels have multiple solar cells made from sheet layers of silicon. These solar cells have an electrical field that turns electrons into direct current (DC) energy. This is called photovoltaics. After leaving the solar power system, the DC electricity goes through an inverter, transforming it into alternating current (AC). This is usable electricity that provides your home’s electrical system and appliances with the energy they need.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? A Breakdown

The national average cost of solar panels is just under $3 per watt installed, with prices ranging from $2.50 to $3.50 depending on local labor costs and the parts needed. Most panels are in the 200 to the 425-watt range, meaning they will cost between $500 and $1300 each.

Installation costs will change how much solar panels cost for you

Solar Panel Costs Per Panel/Module 

  • Thin-film panels offer an average cost per watt of around 43 cents to 70 cents, costing an average of $262 per panel installed
  • Monocrystalline panels are more efficient but also more expensive at 32 cents to $1.50 per watt, which is around $800 to $900 installed per panel
  • Polycrystalline panels have lower production costs, with prices ranging from 70 cents to 1.50 per watt ($750 to $900 installed)
  • Solar roof shingles may be the most expensive option at around $2.65 per watt ($1900 to $3500 installed)

House Solar Panels Efficiency Breakdown

Monocrystalline Solar Panels 

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient on the market, with an efficiency range of 20% to 24%. They also have the highest power capacity, up to 300 watts. 

Polycrystalline Solar Panels 

Polycrystalline solar panels aren’t as efficient as monocrystalline, but they still offer decent efficiency ranging from 15% to 20%. Their power capacity ranges from 240 to 300 watts. 

Thin-Film Solar Panels 

Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient, with an efficiency range of 6% to 19%. They’re also less consistent in size, so there isn’t a standard measure for power capacity.

Solar Roof Shingle Solar Panels 

Solar roof shingle solar panels provide renewable energy with an efficiency rating of 14-18%. Power capacity ranges from 13-67 watts per shingle.

Other Factors To Consider When Choosing A Solar Panel

Solar panels on the roof of a house

Hail Rating

The hail rating of a solar panel is its ability to withstand hail storms without being damaged. Most residential solar panels have been proven to be able to withstand hail up to 1 inch in diameter at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. 

Hurricane Rating

If you live in an area with frequent hurricanes or tropical storms, then this is definitely something you need to pay attention to when choosing your panels. Generally speaking, most residential solar panels can withstand wind speeds up to 130 miles per hour. It’s still worth double-checking the rating for your specific model just to be safe.

Light-Induced Degradation Levels

Light-induced degradation (LID) occurs when sunlight causes electrons in the photovoltaic cell structure of the solar panels to become trapped and thus unable to prevent current from flowing freely within the cell. This leads to decreased efficiency and performance over time. Look for products with low LID levels so they won’t degrade too quickly over time due to exposure to sunlight. 

Temperature Tolerance

Temperature tolerance plays an important role in performance efficiency. Generally speaking, most solar panels function best at temperatures between 77°F and 122°F (25°C to 50°C). If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, choose a model with high-temperature tolerance.

Fire Rating

Fire ratings measure how well the panel can withstand exposure to extreme heat and flames. This rating is especially important if your home is located in an area prone to fires or has previously experienced wildfires. Look for panels with Class A fire ratings, as they are designed to withstand temperatures up to 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit.

Type Of Panel

Solar panels come in two main types – monocrystalline and polycrystalline models. Monocrystalline modules are typically more efficient but more expensive than polycrystalline models, which offer slightly lower efficiency but lower overall cost.


The warranty offered by the manufacturer will tell you how long their product will last without any major issues occurring over time due to wear and tear or defects caused by poor manufacturing practices. Warranties typically range from 10-25 years, depending on the model.

Age Of Company

You should always check out how long a company has been around before investing in its products. This tells you how reliable their products will likely be over time and whether they have experience dealing with customer service issues promptly and efficiently.

What Are The 3 Types Of Solar Inverters?

Here are the types of solar inverters.

Power Optimizers 

Power optimizers are devices that attach to each individual solar panel in your home. They work to maximize the amount of energy your panels can produce by optimizing the voltage levels within each panel. This means that if one panel is shaded or isn’t performing as well as the others, it won’t affect the entire system.

Power optimizers also allow you to monitor performance individually and provide safety features such as grounding protection and fault detection. The downside is that power optimizers usually require a string inverter or microinverter too, adding extra costs to your installation. 

String Inverters 

String inverters are the most common solar inverter used in residential installations today. They work by collecting electricity from multiple panels and sending it into your home’s electrical wiring system.

String inverters have been around for decades, so they are reliable and relatively inexpensive compared to other options. However, if one panel stops working due to shade or other issues, it can decrease the system’s efficiency because it creates an imbalance in the voltage levels.  


Microinverters attach to each individual panel in much the same way as power optimizers do, but they also convert DC into AC. This means each solar panel produces its own energy independently. If one panel stops working, its output won’t affect other panels.

Microinverters also allow for easier monitoring since you can see how each individual panel is performing at any given time. That said, microinverters tend to be more expensive than string inverters. 

House Solar Panels FAQs

A modern house with solar panels on the roof

How Many Solar Panels Does One House Need?

The number of solar panels needed for one house depends on the size of your rooftop space, the average energy usage of your household, and the wattage of each panel you install. Generally, most homes need about 30 solar panels based on an average energy usage of 1,000 kW per hour with 320-watt panels.

What’s The Difference Between Blue And Black-Colored Solar Panels?

Color does not affect how efficient a solar panel is. It’s all about what type of material the cell is made from. The blue-colored cells are polycrystalline, and the black-colored cells are monocrystalline.

What’s The Best Overall Solar Panel Type?

Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be the most efficient and cost-effective overall due to their higher power output and longer lifespan. Their cells last up to 50 years with proper maintenance and calmer weather conditions.

How Breakable Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels are extremely durable due to their protective glass casing. This allows them to withstand high winds, hail, snowfall, and other environmental elements.  

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels are designed to last for a long time, but they will degrade at about .5 to 1% per year. With proper installation, your solar panels should last between 25-30 years. Monocrystalline solar panels can last up to 50 years with a proper maintenance schedule and calm weather.

What’s The Difference Between Track Mounting And Fixed Mounting For Solar Panels?

Fixed Mounting For Solar Panels 

Fixed mounting for solar panels is the most common type of installation in residential settings. It’s used on pitched roofs and involves installing the panels or array onto an existing roof using an appropriate framework.

Installing solar panels with fixed mounting is generally less expensive than track mounting since it requires fewer components. However, it can be less efficient due to shading from nearby trees or buildings. 

Track Mounting For Solar Panels 

Track mounting typically involves installing the panel array on a flat roof using a tracking system that follows the sun’s path. This solar panel installation method provides higher efficiency because it ensures the panel array always faces directly toward the sun. It also eliminates any potential shading issues.

However, this option tends to be more expensive due to its complexity and need for additional components like motors and sensors.

Convert Your House To Solar With Blue Sky Electric

When deciding to install solar panels to convert your home to solar with Blue Sky Electric, you won’t be disappointed with the results. We can help you select the best solar energy system option for your household.

So don’t wait – take action now and fill out our contact form today!