There are currently three different types of solar cells in production in today’s market place. There are the monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. There are differences between the three and knowing the difference will help the consumers make a better choice on which type is best for them.
First there is the monocrystalline cell, which is made from a single large crystal, usually cut from one large man made ingot. This is difficult to handle and if broken then the whole cell has to be replaced. Since it is one piece there is no resistance thus being the most efficient. It is even efficient in low light conditions. This cell has a major draw back of being the most expensive to manufacture.
Second there is the polycrystalline cell, which is made from many small blocks. This is less expensive to manufacture since it is smaller and easier to handle. Connecting all the cells together does reduce the efficiency but not a great deal.
These first two are the most common and most efficient at about 33%. In addition with the high cost of production, it is not possible now to see a further reduction in the cost, which is about $1 US per watt.
The last is amorphous cell. This is sometimes referred to a thin layer or second generation. This has good and bad to it. This cell is the cheapest to manufacture thus being the least expensive to purchase but also the least efficient.
There are other types of solar energy panels but for photovoltaics these three different types of solar cells will be your choices for your solar power system.
With the first two using silicon and the last one using cadmium or copper, the price of the raw materials will be the driving cost in finished cost of the cells. Make your choice a wise one just remember if you chose the thin cell it will take more of them to produce the same amount of energy as the silicon based cells.