Solar Energy Panels

Which Types are Best and How Much Do They Cost?

Which type of solar energy panels are best for your home, and which are the most affordable? Are the energy saving of residential solar panels worth the cost? How much will it set you back to install a home solar panel?

solar energy panel in a field of sunflowers

Most home solar panels fit mostly into three classifications: monocrystalline, amorphous, or polycrystalline.

Within these three types, there are several categories of shape and size, including foldable, framed, rollable, and laminate solar panels.

At this point in time, the framed solar panels are the most affordable and are considered the standard in the solar industry. The framed panels are also the best and most practical choice for most residential locations.

Types of Solar Energy Panels

  1. Monocrystalline – this is the most efficient of the three types, but also the most costly. Created from a single large crystal, it performs relatively well in areas of low light.

  2. Amorphous – amorphous solar energy panels are the same as thin film panels. Basically, these panels consist of silicon painted directly onto stainless steel panels – thus the name of thin film. These are much less expensive to produce than the other two, but require a greater number (and size) of panels to be as efficient as the monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels.

  3. Polycrystalline – currently the solar industry standard, these panels are manufactured by casting blocks of silicon containing small crystals. The blocks are then set into a frame to create the array or panel.

There is a fourth type of solar panel that was supposed to make it's way into production years ago, but still hasn't been seen. It's called Vaporware – a solar panel sprayed with plastic solar cells that would be extremely energy efficient. So far however, it has yet to become a viable option.

The Cost of a Residential Solar Panel System

What are the costs associated with the different types of solar energy panels? Unfortunately, there is no direct answer to this question.

The process of determining the cost of any home solar panel system is based on several factors:

  • The cost of materials

  • Installation expenses (if not doing it yourself)

  • The cost of maintenance for your system (if any)

  • The energy savings

Is there a general range that can be given? Well, it's not set in concrete, but here are a few guidelines to consider when looking at the cost of solar energy panels.

For the materials cost of your project, plan on a range of roughly $6.00 per watt of solar energy (DIY installation) to about $9.00 per watt of solar energy (professional installation).

The total cost for your project will also depend on whether you're going to be simply supplementing your power needs with solar or switching over completely to solar energy.

For example, a very rough estimate for a single-family home that is looking to replace all of the power needs with solar power is looking at an initial investment somewhere in the range of $29,000 to $41,000.

Ways You Can Make Home Solar Panels More Affordable

Yes, I know the cost is pretty high, but your cost is significantly decreased if you install the solar panel system yourself.

By doing a diy solar panel installion the panels yourself, you cold save nearly $10,000 if not more. This estimate doesn't include any tax rebates or incentives that may be available either because those are always changing.

You must consider the return on your investment as well (the big picture). It's similar to getting the equity out of your home, depending on the number of years you stay in your home.

Start by determining your projected energy savings per year. Figure out how long it will take to recoup your investment in the solar energy panels. As long as you stay in your home longer than it takes to have a return on your investment, you'll make that money back and then some!

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