Easy Guide to Solar Panels

One solar panel looks pretty much like another, so what's the difference?
This easy to follow guide is designed to give you all the basic information you need and help you make an informed choice.

Solar panel diagram

What are the basics of a solar panel?


Your average panel is around 1m wide by 1.7m tall and they are about 4cm thick. They weigh 18kg on average.


Solar panels come in a few different colours. The frames are typically made from aluminium and are either metal coloured or black. The back sheets are either black or white, some panels make use of the white back sheet to increase the efficiency of the panel (e.g. Sunpower). If you take a look at our Solar panel page you will see the options available.

The silicon slices in the panel are usually blue or black, this is down to the type of technology that is used in making the silicon.


The fundamental difference in solar panels is whether the silicon is polycrystalline (blue) or monocrystalline (black). Polycrystalline cells are made from parts of many silicon crystals and monocrystalline are made from a single silicon crystal.

Polycrystalline panels usually have slightly lower efficiency but cost less and there is less waste in the manufacturing process. Monocrystalline panels cost a little more but have higher efficiency.

Some manufacturers (e.g. Sunpower) make blue monocrystalline panels.

Panel wattage

A panel's output is measured in watts, they range from around 280 watts to 400 watts. It can be down to what technology the panel manufacturer has used or the panel may just have more cells in it and be slightly larger.


Most panels have a 25-year output warranty and a 10-year product warranty. They are tested against wind loads, weight loads for snow and salt mist corrosion resistance for coastal properties.

There are some panels on the market that have an extended "useful life" of up to 40 years. This is down to using higher quality silicon that degrades at a very slow rate.

Anatomy of a Solar Panel

Solar panel diagram

Solar panel construction diagram

Please contact us with a question or to get a free quote for solar panels or battery installation.

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