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What Color Are Solar Panels? [Are Black & Blue the Only Options?]

Tim Carter
Written by Tim Carter Last Updated: July 31, 2022

Whenever you see solar panels installed on a rooftop, you see that some are black and some are blue. Are your eyes playing a trick on you? What color are solar panels, really? Are there any vivid color solar panels?

While polycrystalline solar cells are typically blue, monocrystalline solar cells are black, gray, or blue. When striving to maximize power output, blue or black color is the best color for the performance of solar panels. 

Solar power is a renewable energy source, and its technology continues to develop. With technological advancement comes improvement in its aesthetic design. Colored solar panels should bring some light and color to dark rooftops.

But how does a change in their color affect solar panels and their performance?

Let’s see.

Table of Contents

What Are the Best Colors for Solar Panel Performance?

Most solar panels are dark blue or black in hue.

While polycrystalline solar cells are typically blue, monocrystalline solar cells are typically black, gray, or blue.

When striving to maximize power output, the blue or black color prioritizes reflecting as little light as possible.

The thickness of the anti-reflection coating put on each solar panel also influences its color.

This thin film prevents light from bouncing off the panel’s glass and instead encourages light absorption, increasing solar energy production. This coating can limit the panel’s performance if it is too thick.

We find the maximum level of silicon purity in black monocrystalline panels, which have the best performance. These panels are produced from a single, high-quality silicon crystal.

Blue polycrystalline panels use a variety of silicon crystal types while still performing at a high level.

Let us contrast the two colors.

Why Are Black Solar Panels Black?

Due to their crystal arrangement, black panels will absorb the most sunlight, making them the most effective.

Because of this feature of their design, they require fewer panels to produce the same amount of energy as another panel color, making them perfect for small spaces.

When temperatures rise, blue and other hues lose some of their productivity, but black panels continue to function well.

Black solar panels are used in business settings where a more dependable performance output is required, but they are also readily available in kits for domestic solar power systems.

Also, most black panels have a 25-year warranty.

Why Are Blue Solar Panels Blue?

Although blue solar panels may not be nearly as effective as black solar panels, their lower manufacturing costs serve to somewhat make up for their slightly lower performance.

Blue solar panels are the most popular option for home installations since they are less expensive and simpler to set up. Blue solar panels are also easier to maintain than white solar panels.

Finally, the production of a blue polycrystalline panel is more environmentally beneficial compared to that of a black monocrystalline panel.

But what changes if you choose a different solar panel color, and is the performance cost justified?

How Does Color of Solar Panels Affect Their Performance?

Depending on their performance characteristics and light reflection measures, colored solar panels are still only available in a restricted number of specific hues.

So don’t think that solar panel colors like bright red or brilliant yellow are good options!

However, as the market for solar panels has grown and become more widespread, there has been an increase in consumer desire for additional hues that complement architectural design.

Initially, researchers believed that altering the color of solar panel cells would cause a 40–50% decrease in energy output. The drop in performance is typically between 15 and 30 percent, while some color schemes have a negative impact on performance of as little as 11 percent.

Fewer photons reach PV cells, which lowers the current and reduces the amount of power produced overall, which is the major cause of the performance decline with color changes.

The loss depends on the color scheme, with brighter colors having a more negative impact than deeper shades. In some cases, the best solution to offset the losses of lighter colors is to add an interference coating that improves performance while reducing the amount of reflection.

The wavelength of light determines how much of it is absorbed and reflected, and only a certain spectrum of light is visible to the human eye. In other words, what we can see and what actually occurs could not be the same.

As our eyes absorb or reflect various wavelengths of light, scientists must consider a sort of “visible” light spectrum for colored solar panels.

With colored solar panels, scientists have to consider a sort of “visible” light spectrum for the panels in the same way our eyes absorb or reflect different wavelengths of light.

The silicon may absorb more light the more transparent the top layers of the solar panel cell are (such the front glass and the encapsulant).

We cannot change the crystalline cells themselves, but we can change the amount of light that reaches the cells via two techniques.

The front of the PV glass or colored encapsulant is treated with specific pigments and dyes. These hues absorb certain wavelengths of light and only partially reflect others. Manufacturers frequently place them as dots so they don’t cover the glass completely.

The alternative method makes use of interference filters that are deposited on the panel’s glass surface.

These thin-film coatings can be more selective in the visible light spectrum wavelengths that are reflected, permitting the absorption of all other light. Another way to look at it is that these coatings purposefully reflect a tiny portion of the light spectrum to enable the screen to absorb most of the remaining visible light.

Both approaches acknowledge they must reflect light, and that reflection gives solar panel color.

Researchers are discovering new techniques to optimize reflection and absorption rates that have little influence on total panel performance as they continue to experiment with color combinations.

Is Purchasing Solar Panels That Match My Roof Color Worth It?

Expect to spend more on colorful solar panels than the conventional blue or black ones because using colored solar panels is still relatively new and the science behind it is still evolving.

Investing in a certain shade of brown or red may not be worthwhile if your rooftop solar installation is not easily visible from the ground.

However, there are now choices for colored solar panels if you own a historic structure or refuse to compromise on the outside design of your home. You might be able to make the most of your solar installation space by employing colorful solar panels as well.

You could use colored panels in sections that are visible and blue or black panels in sections that are not visible. You may generate even more solar energy at the additional cost of having your solar panels match the color of your roof, which will cause longer-term cost savings for you.

Additionally, you should know unclean solar panels perform worse than clean ones.

In fact, in places with higher levels of pollution, solar panels that have not been cleaned in at least a month might lose up to 35% of their performance.

Therefore, even if you choose solar panels that are colorful, if you do not maintain them clean, their effectiveness will decrease. Solar panel monitoring is a simple approach to dealing with filthy solar panels.

Final Thoughts

Monocrystalline solar cells can be black, gray, or blue, but polycrystalline solar cells are commonly blue. The greatest colors for solar panel performance are blue or black when attempting to enhance power output.

Colored solar panels still come in a small selection of unique tones depending on their performance traits and light reflection measures.

The aesthetic appeal of colored solar panels may allure those with historical or unique buildings, but in most cases, the tradeoffs are not currently worth the investment.

Colored solar panels do not perform as well as traditional blue or black solar panels, and the technology surrounding them is still developing, making them more costly to produce.


Tim Carter
Tim Carter

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