Once you know the size of your solar panel needs, it's important to know what type of panels are available to choose the type best fit for your specific application.
The type of solar cells making up your panel are important to understand because they differ in efficiency and production materials.
Groups of solar cells are called solar modules, and more commonly, solar panels.
TYPES OF CELLS
Monocrystalline cells are single silicon cells grown into larger crystals, then cross-section cut into small wafers to form individual cells that are later joined together to form a solar panel. This cell type has a very high conversion efficiency, which means it takes less cells to produce the same amount of energy as other types of cells. These panels are smaller and take up less deck space. They are also more expensive.
Multicrystalline (sometimes called Polycrystalline) cells are also single silicon cells constructed by utilizing multiple amount of smaller crystals to form a cell. These have a high conversion efficiency.
Amorphous silicon cells are the most inexpensive to manufacture. They are produced by depositing and active silicon material on various substrates like stainless steel sheeting. They have a lower conversion efficiency than the other two types of cells, but the advantage of being better at handling having shadow protection. This means when a part of the cells are shaded the rest continue to produce energy at a better rate than other cell types.
TYPES OF PANELS
Basically two types, rigid and flexible. You can find all types of cell types on both types of panels with the cost being the biggest variable. Rigid panels are typically less expensive than flexible panels.
Placement will likely determine what type best works for your installation. Neither type of panel is safe for weight bearing or walking on, unless they are specifically manufactured for that purpose. Flexible panels are lighter than rigid panels.
Once you know the type of cell and panel you think works best for your situation, you'll need to figure out how much wattage your panels must produce to keep your equipment running and your batteries charged.