Solar Panels – How They Work

Quite simply, a solar photovoltaic installation takes sunlight and converts it into free, green electricity.

Solar panel options

There are a number of options when selecting a solar panel to suit your home or business and its requirements. The most common types installed globally are monocrystalline PV and polycrystalline PV, which are commonly used thanks to their availability, cost effectiveness and efficiency.

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers. The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced. The power of a PV cell is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp). That’s the rate at which it generates energy at peak performance in full direct sunlight during the summer.

Here’s a brief outline of each type, all of which are available from Energy Gain UK.

Monocrystalline Silicon PV is the most efficient type of silicon PV, providing efficiencies of between 13-17%. It uses hexagonal-shaped slices to enable more of them to be fitted within a single unit. As the unit requires more involved manufacturing processes to generate its level of efficiency, these tend to be slightly more expensive than alternatives. But their efficiency means they can often provide a reasonable payback in a relatively short space of time.

Polycrystalline Silicon PV panels offer efficiencies of around 11-15%, and are made up of square blocks of silicon that have a typically blue appearance. The reason for the colouring of these panels is to ensure the panel reflects as little light as possible, absorbing higher quantities than many equivalent PV panels.

Amorphous Silicon PV panels provide a much lower efficiency rate of around 6 – 8%, and use cells that are commonly found in pocket calculators. This type of solar panel is not always suitable for residential and commercial properties, but there are certain applications for which it performs well. Its multi-layered format allows the panel to react to different frequencies of light, and it uses less silicon that many other products on the market, making its manufacturing cost slightly cheaper overall.

Hybrid PVs use a clever combination of solar PV technology to generate a more efficient panel than more common products on the market. These efficiencies are usually above 18%, but they do tend to cost more than conventional panels.

Selecting the right PV panel for your requirements

Choosing the right panel can be daunting. Of course we’re here to help and advise, but we like our customers to be informed. Below is a quick guide to choosing panels to suit your needs. If you’d like more help and advice on which is best suited to your home and lifestyle, simply complete the contact form or give us a call on 0161 330 7739.

We are based in Ashton-Under-Lyne and have carried out over 500 installations including many solar panel system repairs  in the last 5 years alone.


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We also ensure all products selected come with warranties and offer our own workmanship guarantees.




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