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House or company owners, who plan to invest into solar energy, are spoilt for choice. The solar power sector has seen a rapid development based on numerous innovations and developments achieved by engineers and researchers. They have continuously been looking for new solutions to provide more efficient, more powerful and more productive solar panels at lesser cost. Today, several types of photovoltaic (PV) modules with different benefits flood the market and investors might become confused in their purchasing decision due to the huge variety of technical options available.

PV panels mainly differ in their price, their efficiency (ability to convert solar energy into electricity) and the required area on a roof or on the ground for the installation of 1 kWp. In order to bring some light into the darkness, we will present the four most common PV modules: monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, thin-film (amorphous) solar panels and CI(G)S (copper, indium, gallium, selenium) solar panels.


Black or blue square shaped cells Typically blue, multifaceted, shimmering appearance Dark surface - usually colored in brown, grey or black Superior appearance - dark, black surface



14 - 20% 12 - 16% 6 - 10% 12 - 17%



  • most efficient in the market
  • very long lifespan
  • very low failure proneness
  • high efficiency per panel (but lower than Monocrystalline)
  • long lifespan
  • very low failure proneness
  • lower weight per square meter
  • low efficiency loss at high temperatures
  • good performance in low irradiation conditions
  • low failure proneness
  • lower weight per square meter
  • low efficiency loss at high temperatures
  • good performance in low irradiation conditions
  • low failure proneness



1. Temperature

High temperatures and hot environmental conditions have a huge impact on the efficiency of PV panels since they have a negative temperature coefficient, which means that the efficiency of the panels decreases when the cell temperature rises. Moreover, due to the solar panel encapsulation and the limited ventilation, the cell temperature is normally around 15 °C higher than the surrounding area.

The solar panels with the least negative temperature coefficient are thin-film panels and CI(G)S solar modules. Since their efficiency does not decrease so much at high temperatures, they produce more power under hot conditions than crystalline panels.

2. Irradiation

One of the most critical factors that influence the performance of a solar panel is the solar irradiation, which differs from location to location. Lower irradiation occurs for example on cloudy days or during the winter months in European countries. But not only the current weather conditions or the daytime affect the irradiation and thus, the productivity of PV panels. The geographic position presents a significant factor as well, since the wavelengths and the intensity of the sunlight reaching the ground are varying from country to country and even from town to town. This depends on the latitude, the altitude, the humidity and the average annual cloud cover. Here too, the different types of solar panels clearly distinguish themselves in their performance. Generally, as the amorphous thin-film modules and the CI(G)S include the capability to capture diffuse light, they convince by their comparative better performance in lower irradiance conditions towards crystalline modules.

3. Available space

Based on the various compositions, the different types of panels differ in their ability to convert sunlight into electricity: the so-called conversion efficiency. Under laboratory conditions the conversion efficiency of a thin-film solar panel is lower than the efficiency of a monocrystalline panel of the same size. Hence, the available space for installing a solar module presents an important indicator. If there is much space and the temperature is hot, the thin-film solar panel could be the right solution, as, based on the installed Wp, many thin-film panels may produce the same amount of energy or even more as a few monocrystalline panels. On the other hand in order to maximize the space / production ratio on rooftops the use of crystalline panels with their higher energy density is advantageous on rooftops.


To put it in a nutshell: There is no winner among the various types of solar panels. Everything depends on the distinct conditions, where the solar panels shall be installed, which differs from country to country, exact location to others and from customer to customer. Since each solar project and each client has its own requirements, the Swiss-based solar energy provider, The meeco Group, provides through its advisory services and its strategic consulting,

customised solutions, which perfectly fit the clients needs. The material utilised for the top-tier installations benefits from a safe warranty background based on third party insurances. Moreover, meeco steadily observes the market developments and prepares reliable and profitable clean energy strategies utilising the latest technologies.





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