What’s the Typical Size & Weight of Solar Panels?
Solar installations are not small. Just looking at a solar installation on somebody’s roof will show that they tend to be large, often taking up big portions of an average home’s roof. But how large are they, actually? And how much do they weigh? Different panels weigh different amounts, depending on what material they’re made out of and the size of the panel itself.
Handheld solar panels are obviously the lightest, but what about polycrystalline panels vs. monocrystalline? Where do thin-film solar panels fit into all this? Does your home’s roof structure matter? Let’s take a look at all these questions.
How Much Do Solar Panels Weigh?
While there are many differences between monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels, weight is not one of those differences. However, portable solar panels, handheld panels and thin-film modules all differ sharply in their weight. Let’s cover the basic weights of each type of panel to see just how much they differ from each other.
Monocrystalline Panels vs. Polycrystalline Panels
Polycrystalline panels are usually differentiated from monocrystalline by their trademark blue hue. Polycrystalline solar panels are also notably less efficient than monocrystalline panels — though notably cheaper as well. But how do they compare when it comes to weight and size?
For the most part, both categories of solar panels weigh about the same. They also tend to have very similar sizes and weights. This is because the underlying physical differences are relatively small, so the size and weight of a particular solar panel are going to be based on how many solar cells are built into it.
With this taken into account, we can see that there are two main weights for solar panels. For smaller 60 cell panels, the weight is usually about 19 kg or about 42 lbs. This is true for Go Solar Group’s main solar panel, the LG370A1C-V5, which is a 60 cell panel weighing 19 kg. For larger solar panels, which are typically 72 cells, the average weight is about 52 lbs.
Which Types of Roofs Can Support Crystalline Solar Panels?
Most roofs can support a typical crystalline solar panel installation. Odds are, the average residential home will be able to get solar installed with little trouble.
There are a few exceptions, however. Roofs with an exceptionally steep slope will be unlikely to support the added dead weight of solar panels. Additionally, curved roofs, like a dome, would have difficulty mounting the rigid, crystalline solar modules. Finally, an old or damaged roof may need repairs or replacement before it’s suitable for going solar.
While flat roofs don’t have an ideal slope, a relatively simple ballast mounting system can mount the panels at an angle that’s best for producing electricity.
The Average Weight of Thin-Film Solar Panels
Thin-film solar panels differ from crystalline panels in a couple of ways.
Firstly, while crystalline panels are formed by melting silicon and then slicing it into wafers, thin-film solar panels are made by layering thin coats of photovoltaic material onto a particular base. The base for thin-film solar panels is usually cadmium telluride, which comes with the downside of being made of toxic materials.
More importantly, however, thin-film solar panels tend to be much lighter than crystalline panels. Because the photovoltaic material is a thin layer and not a solid crystal, and because they aren’t covered by glass-like crystalline panels are, they can weigh significantly less. Many thin-film panels weigh around 6-7 lbs.
Which Roofs Support Thin-Film Modules?
Almost any roof can support thin-film solar modules. The lightweight and flexibility of the thin-film modules mean that they can be applied to roofs of all types, domes, and even mobile options like an RV. However, the flexible structure comes with a much lower efficiency rating, which can limit the usefulness of this type of solar panel.
The Size and Weight of Portable Options
Finally, we come to the portable solar options. There are two main forms of portable solar panels. Firstly, there are handheld solar panels. These solar panels are used to charge things like cell phones while you’re out camping. The second are portable solar panels, which are larger and heavier but can be used to charge things like refrigerators, laptops, and portable stoves — especially if you pair it with battery backup.
What Is the Size and Weight of Handheld Solar Panels?
Handheld solar panels are by far the smallest and lightest option. This makes sense, as they’re meant to be attached to one’s backpack while hiking and used to charge your phone. The average handheld solar module weighs about half a pound. Additionally, these modules usually clock in around six inches tall and 4 inches wide, give or take an inch.
What Is the Size and Weight of Portable Solar?
Portable solar panels can come in multiple forms. Some are meant to be placed onto a portable racking system. Others come built into briefcases, which can be carried and then opened to the sun. Because portable solar panels are often meant to be paired with larger appliances or battery backup, they tend to be larger and heavier than handheld or thin-film panels.
For example, Go Solar Group offers Goal Zero’s Boulder panels with our Level 2 battery backup. The Boulder module weighs about 40 lbs and has a glass covering, but is also rated at 200W. Compared to the five volts of the handheld panels, the Boulder can reach as high as 18 V — making it much easier to charge larger items.
How Large Are Solar Panels?
Now that we’ve covered how much solar panels weigh, and the size of some of the smaller options, let’s go into how much space a solar installation will take up. Generally speaking, a home will have more than enough roof space to accommodate a solar panel system, but there may be exceptions.
The Average Size of Crystalline Solar Panels
As mentioned above, solar panels usually come in two sizes: 60 cell modules and 72 cell modules. The number of solar cells will impact how large the panel is, but it’s not the only factor. Additionally, the size of the solar panels will affect the total amount of space needed for your installation.
Does It Matter Whether the Panel Is Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?
When it comes to crystalline solar panels, there are not really any differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline when it comes to size or weight. Both panel types tend to use the same number and size of cells. Because of that, the size of the actual panels themselves won’t matter.
However, because you need fewer monocrystalline panels to produce the same amount of power as a given number of polycrystalline panels, your solar installation will be smaller with high-quality monocrystalline panels.
How Large Are Crystalline Panels?
Generally speaking, a 60 cell solar panel is going to be around 5-6 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide, and 1-2 inches thick. The LG370A1C-V5, mentioned above, is 1,700 mm by 1,016 mm by 40 mm, which comes out to about 67 inches by 40 inches by 1.5 inches. This is fairly typical for both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.
How Large Are Thin-Film Solar Panels?
Thin-film solar modules tend to be around the same size as crystalline solar panels, though with one exception. Thin-film panels, as the name implies, are much thinner than crystalline solar panels. They’re usually less than an inch thick and can sometimes even go as small as half an inch.