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What Solar Panels Do I Need? | From Types To Numbers (Guide)

Let me guess. Right now, you’ve seen how much money you can save with solar energy and are tired of keeping up with power companies and their constant price increase.

You’ve done a fair bit of research and are just about ready to pull the trigger on an installation, but before you do that, you’re asking yourself:

“What solar panels do I need?”

I’m right, aren’t I? No? Well, I bet I’m close.

In any case, there’s no one answer to this. While crystalline solar panels are the most commonly used in Australia, there are other options and factors that you need to consider, too.

Don’t worry, though. All your questions will be answered in this article. I’ll keep it as simple as I possibly can, too. Below is the list of topics I’m covering, so feel free to tap on any of them to skip sections.

What type of solar panels does my home need?

Many factors influence the best solar panel type for your home. This includes your budget, aesthetics, roof space, your power requirements, and others.

Types of Solar Panels, Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC), Thin-film
A picture showing types of solar panels (monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film and PERC)

First and foremost, however, there are 4 main types of solar panels Australians can choose from:

  • Monocrystalline
  • Polycrystalline
  • Thin-film
  • Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC)

Naturally, each type has its pros and cons. We discuss them deeper in another article but allow me to give you the cliff notes version.

1. Monocrystalline

Monocrystalline modules are the black solar panels that you see on people’s roofs. From a looks standpoint, I must say, these solar panels look good on any home.

It’s not just about aesthetics, though. Monocrystalline panels stand out because they’re also the most efficient at 17-20%, given that they’re made from a single crystal.

However, they’re also the most expensive.

2. Polycrystalline

Like their single-crystal cousins, polycrystalline solar panels are also common in AU. They’re the deep blue panels that you find mounted on your neighbor’s roof.

Contrary to monocrystalline’s construction, however, polycrystalline modules are made from multiple crystals melted together.

This makes them cheaper but slightly less efficient at 15-17%.

3. Thin-film

Thin-film solar panels are the most sleek of all types. Also, unlike their silicon-made counterparts, thin-film modules are produced from Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), or Amorphous Silicon (a-Si). 

They’re also not early as efficient with a range of only 6-15%. On a brighter note, thin film will also be your cheapest and easiest-to-install option.

4. Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC)

These are an upgrade on monocrystalline panels with a reflective layer on the back, boosting their efficiency levels by up to 23%.

So, if you’re seeking maximum efficiency, PERC solar panels are your top choice. They are, however, also the most expensive.

Which of these types fit my home best?

Well, that’s ultimately up to you. We have a full guide on how to choose solar panels but I strongly suggest speaking with a qualified installer.

These installers can help you weigh your choices better, after all. And if you’re having trouble finding one that you can trust, don’t worry. We have a pre-vetted network of them all around Australia. Just let us know and we’ll get you 3 FREE quotes from them right away.

That being said, let me make a case for each of the solar panel types.

Get 3 Solar Quotes From Quality Local Installers.

Polycrystalline: Your most balanced choice.

Polycrystalline panels strike a good balance between cost and performance. They’re not the cheapest or the most efficient, but they offer reliable performance at a fair price, making them a safe bet for most Aussie homes.

PERC: For the Aussies with deep pockets and high energy needs

If budget isn’t a concern, go for the highly efficient PERC panels. Oh and by the way, PERC solar panels are perfect if you have less roof space because their efficiency means you won’t need as many modules to produce adequate amounts of solar energy.

Monocrystalline: Above average efficiency, above average price

While they may be a bit more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels, their higher efficiency makes their prices reasonable. They’re a great choice if PERC panels are a bit out of your budget.

Thin-film: For homes with low energy usage and tight budgets

As mentioned, thin film is the most affordable of all types. This affordability refers to both the retail price and the cost of installation. Not to mention, their flexibility also makes them suitable for roofs with unconventional shapes.

What size solar panels do I need?

What size solar panels do I need
A graph illustrating the ideal solar panel dimensions to suit your needs.

Good question. But, to be clear, I’m not going to be talking about the physical dimensions of solar panels here. I’m assuming that by “size” you actually mean how much solar power your solar system can generate.

That being said, what size solar system you need will depend on your daily average power consumption. You can find that information on your electricity bills. I recommend looking through an entire year’s worth of bills, taking your average daily consumption for the year, and using that as a reference.

Now, if you want to totally rid yourself of power bills, you’ll need a solar system that covers all of your daily needs. You’ll need a solar battery storage system to use solar power when the sun isn’t shining, too.

Naturally, you can opt for a smaller solar system, too. You’ll still be saving money and you’ll be less reliant on the grid but you’ll still be getting power bills.

Recommended: How much money do solar panels save?

How many solar panels do I need to get that capacity?

Once you’ve decided on the size of your solar system, the next thing you have to figure out is how many solar panels you have to buy.

We also have a full guide about calculating how many panels you need but, in a nutshell, you will need:

  • Your average daily power usage – You should already know this if you’ve figured out what capacity solar system you want.
  • Your property’s average peak sunshine hours – You can find this information in our guide about calculating how many panels you need.
  • The power ratings of the solar modules you plan to buy – This information should be available on the manufacturer’s website.

Here are the steps and equations you can follow:

  • Step 1: Properly size your solar system
    • Equation: Average daily consumption ÷ peak sunshine hours = Solar power system size
  • Step 2: Compute the number of panels you need
    • Equation: System size ÷ Module power rating = Number of panels

Now, I understand we’re not all good at math. Heck, I use my phone’s calculator to do basic addition. If you’re like me, an easy solution would be to just let the professionals do it. Our pre-vetted network of installers can do this for you – for FREE.

Get 3 Solar Quotes From Quality Local Installers.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the best solar system for your home depends on many factors such as your budget, electricity usage, and others. Do you want to have zero power bills and are willing to pay for a larger solar system? Good. But, for most of us, lesser power bills for a moderate upfront cost is more than enough.

Now, if you’ve already figured out what size solar system best fits your home, the next things to figure out are the type of solar modules you want to buy and how many of them you need. Optionally, you could also consider adding a solar battery.

The point is this: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution as every household is unique. Do all the research you need to feel confident, talk to an installer you can trust, then take it from there.