Silicon Solar Panels
Silicon panels include crystalline and polycrystalline. Although they are the most efficient, especially in areas of low sunlight, they are the most expensive. Crystalline is made from a single large crystal, and polycrystalline is made from blocks of silicon made up of tiny crystals. Silicon solar efficiencies average 33 percent.
Thin Film Solar Panels
These panels are made by spreading silicon and other solar producing materials in a very thin layer equivalent to the thickness of a hair. Thin film solar panels are not as efficient as silicon panels, but they are cheaper. Another advantage is they make a good base to build other solar materials, such as shingles and tiles. The best thin film materials are amorphous silicon, cadamium telluride and copper idium disenlinide, with efficiencies between 10 and 19 percent. Perhaps, if you live in an area with low sunlight, silicon panels would be best. If you are interested in making other solar materials, or wish for the cheaper option, thin film panels will be best.
Future Solar Panels
There are new materials, such as light-weight, foil-based panels, plastic collectors and hybrid, solar-electric, water-heating collectors. The hybrid systems collect hot air from the solar electric panels and use it to heat water. If you have a pool, this might be the best option.
Type of Electrical System
Choosing the best solar panels goes hand in hand with the electrical system you will install. Together the solar panels, an inverter, a battery, a charge controller wiring and support structure make up the electrical system to power your home. The best electrical systems include grid connected, grid connected with battery backup and off-grid stand alone. In the grid-connected system, your solar panels are connected to your utility electrical grid. The solar panels complement your power supply from the utility company. The grid connected with battery backup system is the same as the grid connected only a battery pack is added to collect surplus energy from the solar panels. The energy from the battery can be used during power outages. In the off-grid or stand-alone system, the energy stored in the solar panels is the sole source of power. Surplus energy is stored in batteries for use at night. This method is used more in remote areas, where it may be more expensive to connect to the grid.
Solar Panel Providers
The best solar panel providers depend on the region you live in. The Source Guide for renewable energy resources, the Solar Energy Industries Association and your utility company should have a list of the best providers in your area.