Which type of Solar Panel is the most effective?

Solar power and solar panels have come a long way in the last decade, as costs have dropped, and usage has skyrocketed. A big part of that is the advancement of solar technology. Panels, inverters, and battery banks have all become more efficient and less costly to produce.

As of 2020, there are three types of solar panels available for residential solar panel systems. Let’s look at how they rank in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. 


As the name suggests, this solar panel type is made of pure monocrystalline silicon. Appearance-wise, they stand out with a distinct uniform dark look with rounded corners on each wafer.

Monocrystalline solar panels boast an efficiency rate of between 15 and 22%, making them the most efficient solar panel type. More importantly, they require the least amount of space, making them ideal for both residential and commercial applications.  They also typically last the longest thanks to the stability and inert nature of pure silicon. 

Large monocrystalline solar panels can deliver up to 400W or more of clean energy, which is enough to power your household appliances, including fridges, microwaves, TVs, and mobile devices. Because they are so effective, they are also naturally among the most expensive.


Polycrystalline solar panels are somewhat similar to monocrystalline systems in that they both use pure silicon. However, in this case, multiple silicon crystals are melted together to form the panel.  

This simpler refinement process, though less wasteful, makes polycrystalline solar panels less efficient than monocrystalline panels. They generally have an efficiency rating of between 8 and 17%. You can easily recognize them by their shimmering bluish color due to the multiple crystals within the panel.

Given their lower efficiency, polycrystalline solar panels are generally much more affordable. This aspect makes them one of the most popular options offered by local solar companies. It also makes them the ideal choice for people looking to gain financial benefits from their solar panel system.

Newer models can even match the longevity and durability of monocrystalline systems. 

Thin Film Solar Cells

Also known as thin-film photovoltaic cells, thin-film solar cells are made by placing at least one thin layer of photovoltaic material on a suitable substrate. These can include glass, metal, and plastic surfaces. 

They are easy to manufacture and are among the most affordable types of solar panels on the market today. The key advantage of thin-film solar cells is that they work better as the sun’s temperature gets hotter. They generally have an efficiency rating of between 10 and 16%.

Due to their large space requirements, thin-film solar cells are hardly ever used for residential solar systems. However, with advances in solar technology, it’s only a matter of time.

Still Have Questions?

For over 20 years, we have ranked among the top local solar companies in New Mexico. We go above and beyond to provide high-efficiency solar panels at affordable rates. If you want to learn more about solar panel types or residential solar systems, give us a call at (505) 944-4220 or fill out our quick contact form. 

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