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Amorphous vs Crystalline Solar Panels – Which Is Better in 2022

Are you thinking of alternative power options for your tiny homes and don’t know where to start or how to go about it?

Well, let’s cut to the chase and let you know right from the get-go that solar power is becoming a brilliant option for tiny house owners looking for a reliable power option for their tiny homes.

That said, many tiny house enthusiasts have little to no knowledge about the different types of solar panel options available on the market.

That’s why we have written this guide to bring you up to speed on everything you should know about amorphous vs crystalline solar panels.

After reading today’s guide, you’ll be able to decide which of these solar panel options is great for your tiny home.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

What You Need To Know

Even though there are primarily three solar panel options on the market, today’s focus is on amorphous vs crystalline solar panels.

Just so you know, amorphous and crystalline solar panels look very much alike, so the difference between them isn’t in how they look but rather their performance.

Simply put, these solar panel options differ in terms of specs, performance and properties.

Read on as we delve deeper into their core differences.

Difference Between Amorphous vs crystalline

As we mentioned earlier, these solar panels look identical, so it is almost impossible to tell their difference by just looking at them.

That said, the significant differences between these solar panel options have to do with the materials, manufacturing processes, durability and efficiency ratings that each product has.

Simply put, these solar panels have various physical properties, including aesthetics, flexibility, cost and durability.

Now, let’s look closely at each solar panel and explore its unique propositions.

Crystalline solar panels

Crystalline solar panels are one of the most popular solar panels on the market today.

They are divided into two, namely, polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels.

Polycrystalline cells are mostly found inside rigid panels.

Unfortunately, they are not as efficient as monocrystalline solar cells.

Plus, they require a larger surface area to deliver the same output.

Like polycrystalline cells, monocrystalline cells are also found inside rigid panels.

But what’s great about them is that they are a lot more efficient than polycrystalline cells.

Despite not being large enough, they deliver similar output.

To deliver the best performance, crystalline panels have to be perpendicular to the sun.

Unfortunately, these solar panels do not perform very well in partial shading, especially when you compare them to amorphous cells.

Also, they tend to lose a significant percentage output as the temperature increases above 25 degrees celsius.

Amorphous solar panels

Amorphous solar panels are among the most sought-after solar panels for apparent reasons.

To start with, these solar panels offer higher efficiency than either polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panels.

Without mincing words, amorphous panels have the most efficient cells on the market.

Even though they require twice the surface area required by crystalline panels to deliver the same output, in terms of performance, they are topnotch.

Plus, they are a lot more flexible than crystalline solars and can handle higher temperatures better.

Also, it would interest you to know that amorphous cells are made from a fine layer of silicon.

This ensures that your solar panels are both flexible and lightweight.

As we mentioned earlier, amorphous cells can handle higher temperatures without output taking a hit.

This puts them above poly and monocrystalline cells.

Amorphous cells perform way better than even the most efficient crystalline panels, especially in low light conditions.

And that’s because amorphous panels are fitted with uni-solar triple-junction cell technology.

This technology is designed to absorb a wider band of the visible light spectrum

Features

Now that we know what each solar panel is, let’s quickly take you through some of their unique features.

It’s important to add that these features will also double as pros and cons.

Efficiency

When it comes to efficiency, crystalline solar panels are way ahead of amorphous solar panels.

While amorphous solar panels deliver an average of 7% efficiency, crystalline solar panels have an average of 15 to 30% efficiency.

So if efficiency is what you’re looking for in a solar panel, opting for crystalline solar panels will be a brilliant decision.

Strength

Amorphous solar panels are made from robust silicon materials.

This makes it more tolerant to defects than crystalline solar panels.

Because of the materials amorphous solar panels are made from, they are durable.

And even when they are damaged, it doesn’t have a significant effect on overall power output.

On the other hand, crystalline solar panels aren’t as durable as amorphous.

Any slight brittle or damage to a panel section will ground the entire thing.

So if you’re interested in a solar panel that will last, your best bet is an amorphous solar panel.

Weight

When shopping for a solar panel, many people are interested in solar panels that aren’t too heavy.

So if you’re interested in a lightweight solar panel, you are better off with amorphous solar panels as they are believed to be the lightest solar panels on the market.

Shade tolerance

Most people love amorphous solar panels because they work well under low or poor light conditions.

This makes them a brilliant option for areas with less than ideal sunlight.

As a matter of fact, when installed in areas with low light, they have proven to be more efficient than crystalline panels.

And the reason is that they have a uni-solar triple-junction technology cell which ensures that they can absorb a wider band of the noticeable light spectrum.

There are even advanced models of amorphous solar panels that can use indoor light sources for power.

Portability & Flexibility

When it comes to portability and flexibility, Amorphous solar panels are the top choice.

They are the perfect options for tiny homes, RVs and even boats.

Unfortunately, they aren’t a popular option for residential applications.

Crystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are stiff and designed for heavy-duty use.

This makes them a brilliant option for traditional homes, tiny houses on foundations, RVs and facilities.

For clarity purposes, most of the solar panels you typically find on roofs of buildings are crystalline.

Cost

If you’re interested in an affordable solar panel option, you won’t go wrong to check out amorphous solar panels.

They are less expensive than crystalline solar panels, especially when manufactured on a large scale.

Types of solar cells

Now that we have brought you up to speed on what you should know about amorphous and crystalline solar panels, we want to use this opportunity to enlighten you on the types of solar cells available.

Knowing this will help you make a better decision when shopping for the right solar panel.

When it comes to solar cells, there are two options.

There is the N-Type and the P-Type cells.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about these solar cells because they are related to how wafers are tweaked to convert them into working solar cells that produce electrical currents.

That said, here are the basics you should know:

N-Type Cells

N-type cells feature phosphorous.

This adds one more electron than silicon.

And this is important for a negative charge.

The exciting thing about this cell is that it isn’t affected by boron oxygen defects.

All of these ensure that the solar panel is durable and serves users for as long as possible.

P-Type Cells

Before we delve into this solar cell, we would like to mention that most solar panels are P-cells.

These types of solar panels can work for more than 30+ years.

P-type cells feature silicon wafer and boron.

And yes, they are the most common treatment for solar cells.

Unlike N-type cells, the P-type cells have one less electron than silicon.

This allows for a positive charge.

What’s not-so-cool about this type of solar cell is that it is sensitive to light-induced degradation.

This may result in occasional output drops.

How do I choose the right solar panel?

Are you still confused about which solar panel you should go for?

We made a complete guide for Solar for tiny houses.

To give you the TL;DR version.

If you need high efficiency for your home, you’re better off with a monocrystalline solar panel because it has proven to deliver the highest efficiency.

If you plan to install your solar panel on curved surfaces, it’s best to opt for amorphous solar panels because they are designed for non-flat surfaces.

For those who plan to install their solar panels on their RVs, you should be looking for an affordable solar panel as you must have already spent a fortune buying your RV.

Just so you know, prices vary significantly for different types of solar panels.

So at the end of the day, your budget will determine the type of solar panel you buy.

If you are on a budget, it’s best to go for a polycrystalline panel as it is more affordable than other options on the market.

Similarly, the light condition will also determine your choice of solar panel.

If you live in an area with frequent low light conditions, it’s best to install an amorphous panel.

Best solar panels for tiny homes

Are you still confused about which solar panels you should install in your tiny home?

Well, we are sure today’s guide has made things pretty easy for you.

But to make your job a lot easier, we suggest installing monocrystalline panels in your tiny homes, mainly because they deliver better levels of efficiency.

Click here for the 2022 updated guide

Frequently asked questions

Can I combine monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels?

To be honest, we won’t recommend mixing two different solar panels.

Even though it’s possible to configure them to deliver the same performance, it’s best always to keep things simple.

Sure, you can connect two different panels in series, provided they have the same amps, voltage and wattage.

However, we highly recommend keeping things uniform to prevent unnecessary issues.

How can I differentiate Polycrystalline from Monocrystalline?

Even though solar panels look identical, it’s easy to differentiate one from the other.

For instance, polycrystalline panels have a bluish tint.

Plus, the glass looks pretty much like marble.

On the flip side, monocrystalline panels are flat black and sleek.

Can I install solar panel on my RV?

For RV owners looking for alternative power options for their vehicles, installing solar wouldn’t be such a bad choice.

And with the myriads of solar panels available on the market, you’ll be spoilt for choice when shopping for one that meets your needs.

Conclusion

If you are on the market for the lowest cost system, then you won’t go wrong opting for an amorphous solar panel and here is why.

First, amorphous panels are easy and less expensive to produce.

This allows manufacturers of this solar panel to pass the savings down to the end-users.

Unfortunately, the downside of this solar panel is that it requires a lot of surface space to install the panel.

More so, since amorphous solar panels aren’t as efficient as polycrystalline cells, they often need 50% more room than those required by the polycrystalline system.

If you are restricted to an area and looking to produce the most power in the area, you’ll not go wrong to go for crystalline solar panels as they deliver 15 to 18% efficiency.

This makes them ideal for homes.