So, it’s time for a roof replacement, and you’re ready to change your home for the better with higher energy efficiency.
Utilizing renewable energy is one of the best ways to live an eco-friendly life, and solar energy is an ample resource in the United States. Did you know that you can add solar panels to your residential roof and reap the benefits of renewable energy?
That’s right, if your roof is compatible with solar panels, you can be on your way to living a more environmentally-friendly life. There are two different kinds of solar panels: black and blue. Each one offers different benefits.
Not sure which type of solar panel is best for your home? Let’s explore the pros and cons of the two main options.
What Are Black Solar Panels?
The difference between black and blue solar panels is more a matter of manufacturing than color. Although, the two options do have a distinct color difference.
Black solar panels are monocrystalline panels that appear black in color. Monocrystalline panels are made from a single large silicon crystal with high quality. The silicon used has an extremely high level of purity. Silicon is a non-metallic element used in solar panels because it has an impressive ability to absorb wavelengths of light and produce an electric charge.
- Fun fact: The process of combining silicon into one high-quality crystal is called the Czochralski process, named after Polish scientist Jan Czochralski who invented the method in 1915. 🧐
How Are Black Solar Panels Made?
The Czochralski method creates black solar panels by following these steps:
- A silicon crystal seed is placed in a vessel of molten silicon.
- The silicon crystal seed is slowly drawn out with the molten silicon and forms a block of solid crystal silicon.
- The silicon block is cut into fine silicon “wafers,” which are used as solar cells in energy production.
The process of making a single-crystal black cell is more complicated than creating blue cells with multiple crystals. Unfortunately, a portion of pure silicon gets discarded in the production of black solar cells. This is because the silicon wafers must be cut in a specific way to achieve the optimal cell shape.
What Are Blue Solar Panels?
Blue solar panels are different from black panels in that, yes, they are blue, but instead of a single individual crystal, blue solar panels are polycrystalline panels. “Poly-” means “multiple,” and blue solar panels are created from more than one raw silicon crystal. The difference is that black solar panels are made from one individual crystal.
- Fun fact: About 90% of all solar panels on the market are blue polycrystalline solar panels. ☀️
How Are Blue Solar Panels Constructed?
The process of making blue solar panels is incredibly similar to black panels. The difference starts right at the beginning. The first step of creating black solar panels is to draw up a silicon crystal seed. Blue solar panels skip this step.
Instead, the silicon crystals are poured into the vessel and are allowed to cool and form polycrystalline silicon cells. This step forms characteristic grains on the edges of the blue solar cells.
The blue hue is achieved through the way the polycrystalline cells reflect light and the anti-reflective coating that gets applied.
Pros and Cons of Each Type
There is a case to be made for both black and blue solar panels. Each type offers different advantages and disadvantages for homeowners. However, ultimately, any solar panel is better than no solar panel.
Black Solar Panels: Pros
Black solar panels are becoming more popular, and it’s easy to see why. They offer many benefits that are appealing to homeowners, including:
- High energy efficiency
- Great performance in warm weather
- Absorbs more light
Higher Energy Efficiency
The crystals in a monocrystalline panel are aligned uniformly. This alignment makes black solar panels more energy efficient. You can generate the same amount of energy with fewer black panels than blue.
Not to mention, since you don’t need as many black solar panels, they also take up less space on your roof. Many homeowners find their sleek design and space-saving nature to be aesthetically pleasing.
Performs Better in Warm Weather
All solar cells produce less electricity when temperatures rise. However, if you live in a warmer climate, black solar panels might be more appealing because they experience less energy degradation in warm weather compared to blue panels.
Absorbs More Light
All black materials absorb more of the sun’s rays, whether it be a black t-shirt or black asphalt pavement. The same goes for black solar panels. Due to their color and construction, black panels absorb more of the sun’s rays and generate more power than blue panels. They also tend to perform better in low-light conditions.
Black Solar Panels: Cons
While black solar panels offer many advantages, they also have a few drawbacks that may be deal-breakers for homeowners, such as:
- Higher costs
- Wasted materials
Black solar panels only make up 10% of all solar panels on the market. Because of their scarcity and more complex manufacturing process, black panels cost up to 25% more than blue panels.
For homeowners on a tight budget, this alone can be enough to sway them towards blue panels. However, many people find that the impressive energy performance from black panels makes them worth the price.
Wastes Material During Production
During the production of monocrystalline cells for black solar panels, a large amount of silicon ends up getting wasted. This is because silicon wafers are cut off from all four sides to create the desired shape of the cells. Unfortunately, this waste is not eco-friendly, which can be a deterrent for some prospective buyers.
Blue Solar Panels: Pros
Blue solar panels are produced in much higher numbers, and most homes and businesses across the country utilize blue panels. Here are some of their benefits:
- Easy to produce
- Minimal waste
It costs far less to produce polycrystalline cells for blue solar panels than monocrystalline cells for black panels. Their cheaper upfront and installation costs make them more accessible for many homeowners across the county.
Easier to Produce
The lower cost of blue solar panels relates directly to the easier production process of polycrystalline solar cells. Since these panels are easier to produce, they are also easier to repair. As the primary solar panel in the United States, the production process has been mastered, and repairs are fast and easy.
Less Waste in Manufacturing
Since polycrystalline cells don’t require any shaping, silicon wafers don’t need to be cut off on each side. While the shaping process for black solar panels generates a lot of silicon waste, hardly any waste is produced when manufacturing blue panels. This is an important consideration for homeowners who care deeply about their ecological footprint.
Blue Solar Panels: Cons
Even though blue solar panels are very popular, they do have a few drawbacks worth considering.
- Lower energy efficiency
- Not as aesthetically pleasing
Less Energy Efficient
It’s simply hard to beat the impressive energy efficiency of black solar panels. Blue solar panels absorb less light and don’t perform as well in warm weather or low-light as their black counterparts. So while they may be more affordable, they produce less energy.
Less Aesthetically Pleasing
Many homeowners find the sleek appearance of black solar panels to be more pleasing to the eye. Depending on the color of your home, blue solar panels may stand out more in a way some people don’t enjoy. Blue solar panels have white stripes throughout, so they don’t have a sleek, simple appearance.
Are Black or Blue Solar Panels Best for Your Home?
Depending on your priorities, you may lean one way or another. Homeowners on a budget may be more drawn to blue panels, while homeowners who want the best energy efficiency may gravitate towards black panels. Remember: You can’t really go wrong with choosing a type of solar panel because going solar in any capacity is always a wonderful decision for our environment.
Ready to take the plunge and install solar panels on your roof? Secured Roofing & Restoration is one of the best roofing companies for the job. Not all roofers work with solar panels, but we are always eager to install them for our clients. Contact us today to learn more.