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How to choose solar panels for home and commercial use

You can use solar panels at home, you can power your business with them, and some panels you can even take with you on a trip. How to pick the right ones for your needs? In this article from A1SolarStore we’ll talk about how to choose solar panels: from type to manufacturer.

There are three types of solar panels

You have options: you can pick monocrystalline solar panels (mono) for your PV system, polycrystalline solar panels (poly) or thin-film modules. All three types of panels produce energy from the sun, but there are some key differences to be aware of.

Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient

Monocrystalline cells are black in color and have rounded edges

These panels convert more sunlight to electricity due to the qualities of the material they are made from – single-crystal silicon. It is produced in vacuum furnaces to achieve almost 100% purity, which makes monocrystalline solar cells more efficient in comparison to polycrystalline ones. A panel with high efficiency is smaller than one that has the same rated power but a lower conversion rate.

- 18-23% efficiency
- Black in color and look better on your roof
- Last for 25+ years

The production of monocrystalline silicon is slow and expensive, which explains the higher price per Watt in comparison to polycrystalline counterparts. Monocrystalline panels are the best choice when your space or maximum weight of the system are limited.

Polycrystalline panels are the cheapest

Polycrystalline cell are bluish and have square edges

To make polycrystalline cells, engineers melt together fragments of silicon. The rectangular block is then sliced into wafers. This manufacturing process is cheaper but wafers don’t convert sunlight to electricity as well. The main advantage of polycrystalline solar panels is their affordable price. They may be the best option where high energy generation is not the priority.

- 20-25% cheaper than monocrystalline ones
- Last for 25+ years

The difference in price between the two types became smaller over the years. While polycrystalline panels were the go-to choice a decade or two ago, nowadays some even consider them to be obsolete.

Thin-film solar panels are light and flexible

Some thin-film panels are so flexible than you can roll them into a scroll

Apply photovoltaic material onto glass or metal substrate and you get a thin-film panel. This is a more modern type of panels than the other two and it shows a lot of potential. They usually have low power output: from a few watts to 200-300 W.

- Light and flexible
- Easy to install with adhesives

The way thin-film panels are made does not allow for a long lifespan. They usually last for 10-20 years with the product warranties for them varying from a year to 5 years. Besides, their efficiency is lower than that of rigid panels and ranges from 10% to 17%.

Choose rigid solar panels for home and business

When you build a home system, monocrystalline panels are the best choice. You can also pick polycrystalline panels if you have enough space. High-output mono-panels are used for commercial and industrial PV systems. Consider bifacial panels that convert sunlight to electricity using both sides.

How to choose solar panels for RV? When your energy needs are high, try installing a couple of monocrystalline panels on a roof. Otherwise, flexible panels will become a great companion in your travels.

Check output and manufacturer

Suppose you’ve picked the type. What to look for in a solar panel? The most important is its rated output or power capacity.

Solar panels range in output from a few watts to over 700 W. The most popular solar panels for home among our customers are 400 W modules. Our store offers solar panels ranging from around 300-350 W all the way to over 500 W at competitive prices.

350-450 W

 most common power output of solar panels for home

For a big business project, choose solar panels that are rated above 500 W. The right power capacity of solar panels for RV depend on how much space you space you have available and how big are your energy needs.

Do the math to size the PV system right

There are several factors to consider in order to figure out the number and power output of solar panels you need to make your house completely energy independent:

- Amount of power necessary to ensure the work of all appliances in the building. The more heavy loads you have, the bigger your system has to be.
- Inefficiencies of inverter, batteries, and conductors. Installers recommend assuming that 25-35% of energy is going to be lost in transfer and conversion process.
- Geographical location and number of peak sun hours. Some areas are naturally sunnier than the others. Check the sunlight levels in our State Solar Power Rankings!

Let's assume that the overall electricity consumption of a small house is 300 kWh per month. Dividing this by 30 days and 5 hours of active work of solar panels per day, we get 2 kW. You will always need to add 25% on top because of power losses. Therefore, to provide a small house with sufficient energy in summer, you will need an array of solar panels with a total capacity of 2.5 kW. In order to receive enough electricity in winter and fall, it is better to increase the array capacity by 50%.

You don’t have to do the calculations by yourself though. Use A1SolarStore calculator and it will do all the work for you.

Find out cost & profitability of solar system for your home or business

A1SolarStore Calculator will help you choose the right solar panels and accessories to cover your energy needs.

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Top 5 solar panel manufacturers

Panasonic PV modules have 27% higher power density compared to other brands. That allows for generating 19.7% more energy from 1 m² (11 ft²). Panasonic solar panels cost slightly more than alternatives but perform better, are more reliable, and have a great 25-year warranty for product and performance.

Canadian Solar produces efficient and competitively prices PV modules. They have excellent efficiency under low light conditions – up to 97%.

Q CELLS solar panels have a great price-quality ratio which makes them a good option for many homeowners who are planning to go solar. These are Korean-made panels that get lots of favorable reviews online.

JA Solar is a Chinese company that focuses on high-output solar panels. This company is a great pick if you're planning a large solar project.

Trina Solar has a solid reputation and large global distribution network across 30 countries. Trina offers a range of solar panels incorporating many of the latest cell technologies, including bifacial, half-cell, dual glass, PERC, and N-type mono-crystalline cells.

Choose the best solar panels at A1SolarStore

A1SolarStore supplies all types of solar equipment for residential and business needs, helping thousands of customers – from DIY individuals to licensed professionals and international companies – become energy independent.

Wholesale prices
Shipment cost remains the same if you buy more items. So, as more items you have in your order as less the shipped item price will be.

You can easily get a quote by submitting a simple form on our website. Calculate the total cost of your PV system to choose the best option!

Trusted manufacturers
We cherry-pick the manufacturers we work with to ensure the highest quality and reliability of the products we offer to our customers.

Fulfillment centers across USA
Our fulfillment centers are located on both East and West coasts of the USA: California, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and Missouri.

4-7 business days delivery
Your order will be safely and promptly delivered by one of our trusted partners: FedEx, XPO, ODFL or ArcBest.

1-3 days processing
We process all orders within 24 hours and ship them within 48 hours to make solar dreams come true asap!

Easy payment
You can pay by credit card, PayPal, Wire Transfer and even Apple or Samsung Pay. Our Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts all your personal information, including credit card number, name, and address to make your online shopping safe.

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With a degree in Linguistics, Tatiana uses her vast experience in technical translation to deliver complicated concepts in simple words. She joined the company in 2020 as a contributing writer to become the person to influence Blog’s development.

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