Types of Solar Panels
Rigid panels comprised of silicon cells sandwiched between protective glass sheets are the dominant solar technology on the market. They are generally the most cost effective and efficient in energy production; however, they are more susceptible to the effects of shade and high temperatures, which reduce the amount of electricity these types of panels can produce.
These relatively inexpensive, flexible panels are less susceptible to the effects of shade and heat but are not as efficient as traditional crystalline silicon panels. This technology is often suitable for buildings with a larger rooftop area because it takes more thin-film panels to produce the same amount of electricity as traditional silicon panels.
Building-Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV)
BIPV are PV materials incorporated into the construction of an actual building—such as roof tiles, windows or part of a building’s facade. Typically made from thin-film cells, BIPV systems tend to be less efficient in terms of producing electricity but can be more aesthetically appealing.
Types of Solar Inverters
A central inverter converts the DC electricity produced by the entire solar array into AC electricity. In residential installations, the inverter is usually located on the side of the house or garage that is close to the utility meter.
Microinverters are smaller devices connected to the back of each individual panel in a solar array. Although generally more expensive than a single central inverter, micro-inverters diminish the effects of shading on a solar system’s total energy output because any loss of efficiency in one panel does not diminish the output from the rest of the array.