All solar cells are generally indistinguishable from one another, but commercial solar panels differ in a few meaningful traits from their residential counterparts.
When selecting from a range of cells to install, most people have a strong interest in the associated costs and the cell’s function. Normally, price and function are identical among all available sun cells (residential or not). People who own sun cells are charged per kilowatt, so the only variable involved in determining cell price is the amount of power it puts out.
The majority of differences between residential and commercial solar panels really break down into aesthetics and purpose. When installing residential sun cells, the overall footprint should be kept down to make the cell blend in with its surroundings as much as reasonably possible, and reduce the chances of theft or vandalism of the cell itself. Non-residential projects are built in areas that are almost always less accessible to the average person. This results in a smaller device that is built with a lower profile.
As the majority of residential cells are installed on roofing, the cell can’t be overly bulky. While both types of cells can be used on roofing, non-residential cells are designed with flat surfaces in mind. Due to this situation, they are typically installed differently with different solar equipment.
On non-flat surfaces, the cells require additional anchors to retain stability. This type of installation can take a little longer than an installation of commercial solar panels. Residential projects are nearly always on a much smaller in scope. The overall cost and time spent will also be much less.
Non-residential cells are usually installed in bulk. Efficiency is a great priority. As non-residential cells are typically used for flat surfacing, they can be erected rather quickly. This can reduce the time a project requires by several weeks. These cells are also somewhat larger than their residential counterparts, both in the cell housing and the cell surface itself. They typically stand a little taller off the base and are around a foot wider.
Commercial solar panels differ in one other significant way. Residential cells, because of their smaller surface area, are less efficient than non-residential cells. This difference in efficiency is not overwhelming. It usually differs only by a percentage point or two.
In many cases, non-residential projects will use cells called building integrated photovoltaics. Building integrated photovoltaics are installed with the purpose of merging with a building’s design, so as not to alter the look of a building. Building integrated photovoltaics require greater square footage as they are less efficient than traditional cells. As a result, they are typically less practical for residential installations because they need more space. Residential installations are more likely to use mono or polycrystalline cells. Commercial solar panels are also typically of the mono or polycrystalline variety.
This process may change in the near future as manufacturers pour lots of effort into creating sun cells that are easily integrated into residential structures to retain efficiency. Newer models can be designed to look like skylights so they are aesthetically pleasing.