When most people think of solar panels, they think of the dark blue ones usually seen on rooftops. But there are actually two types of solar panels: black and blue. There is no doubt that the blue solar panels are more common, but what about the sleek black ones that are available for purchase? What’s the difference, and which ones should you consider for your home or business?
Blue Solar Panels
Both blue and black solar panels are made using silicon. The silicon absorbs most wavelengths of light and produces an electric charge. Blue solar panels are made of a type of silicon with multiple crystals, known as polycrystalline cells. These panels are blue because they have an anti-reflective coating that helps improve the solar panels’ efficiency and their capacity to absorb light.
To make blue solar panels, raw silicon is melted and poured into a square mold. The silicon is not aligned perfectly, but cools into the right structure without needing to be trimmed to fit solar cell molds. This process creates many individual silicon crystals within the mold. The production of blue solar panels uses less energy and creates less waste than the production of black solar panels does, so blue panels are cheaper to produce, and thus more affordable.
Black Solar Panels
Blue solar panels are made using polycrystalline silicon, while black solar panels are made from a single high-quality silicon crystal that has a higher level of purity, known as monocrystalline silicon. The way that light interacts with the monocrystalline silicon layer on these panels creates a black appearance and color.
The process used to create monocrystalline silicon, also known as the Czochralski process, is almost the same as the process used to make blue solar panels, except a silicon crystal seed is used to create one large block of crystal silicon. The silicon block is then sliced into wafers, which are used as solar cells for energy production. This process is more complicated than the process used to make monocrystalline silicon, and it uses more energy and wastes some silicon.
Which Is Best?
There are pros and cons to both black and blue solar panels. When choosing which one to buy, you need to look at a number of different factors to determine which color panel suits your needs. Here is a breakdown of each panel type:
Black Solar Panels
- Because of the uniformity and the alignment of the silicon, as well as their black color, which absorbs more of the sun’s rays, black solar panels tend to be more efficient than blue solar panels.
- A large amount of pure silicon gets wasted in the manufacturing process.
- They are more efficient and function better in low lighting as well as in warm weather. Black panels do experience some output degradation as the temperature rises, but it is less severe in black panels than it is in blue panels.
- Black panels are more expensive than blue solar panels.
- They occupy less space and have a longer lifespan.
Blue Solar Panels
- Blue panels are more affordable than black panels. Both the upfront and installation costs are much lower.
- They are made using a less complicated process, which creates less waste.
- They are slightly less efficient than black panels.
- They require more space to produce the same amount of energy as black panels.
Because blue solar panels are less expensive and only slightly less efficient than black ones, more people choose this type of panel. If you are looking to go the more affordable route for renewable energy for your home or business, then blue solar panels are the way to go. However, if efficiency is your main concern, then black solar panels may be your best option.
If you need help choosing between the two, Go Solar Energy can help. One of our agents will be more than happy to compare the benefits of each for you. Our agent will make sure that you get the most affordable solar panels for your business or home – we’ll compare every plan from different companies around your region to make sure that you receive the best. To get started, enter your zip code on the homepage, or to speak directly to one of our agents call (888) 290-3112.