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Solar panels come different sizes and styles to suit a variety of uses. Generally, a panel for a commercial-scale system is larger and uses more cells than a panel for residential use. the most important difference between solar panels is the form of silicon they use.

Silicon comes in a number of different cell structures: single cell (monocrystalline), polycrystalline or amorphous forms.

Monocrystalline solar panels are produced by cutting individual wafers of silicon from one large silicon block. These individual silicon wafers can then be attached onto a solar panel.

Monocrystalline silicon cells are more efficient than polycrystalline or amorphous solar cells, but they are also the most expensive. This is because the processes needed to cut the individual monocrystalline wafers are more labour-intensive.

Polycrystalline solar cells are also silicon cells. But the cells are produced by melting multiple silicon crystals together. Many silicon molecules are melted and then re-fused into the panel itself. Polycrystalline cells are less efficient than monocrystalline cells, but they are also less expensive.

Amorphous silicon cells are non-crystalline. Because of this they are attached to a substrate like glass, plastic or metal and can be used to create flexible and very thin film solar panels. Though very versatile, amorphous solar cells are currently very inefficient compared to mono or polycrystalline cells.