Triangular solar panels are designed to fit angled and curved roofs.
They come in a variety of sizes and can be tailored to fit any roof shape, but are they actually worth it?
Triangular solar panels are only worth it if you’re trying to squeeze as many solar cells as possible on your roof.
I’ve been a solar engineer for the past decade, and in this article, I’ll show you everything you need to know about triangular solar panels.
We will go through their features, their pros and cons, and whether they are worth the investment.
- Triangular solar panels are the same as, or very similar to, traditional rectangular solar panels
- Triangular solar panels are easier to install on curved or angled surfaces which can make them attractive to those looking to install solar panels on an A-frame house or sloped roof
- Triangular solar panels are available in many types including monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin film, bifacial, and hybrid solar panels
- They provide high energy yield as they cover the gaps and utilize the available space compared to traditional rectangular solar panels.
- Triangular solar panels cost more than their rectangular counterparts due to the lack of manufacturers and the fact that they are more difficult to produce.
What Are Triangular Solar Panels?
Triangular solar panels are just like their regular counterparts but they’re shaped in a triangle rather than a rectangle.
Basically, manufacturers arrange the solar cells in a triangle shape, cut some silicon cells to fill in the gaps in the triangle shape, and then slap on the front glass and backsheet.
Triangle solar panels are mostly used in building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) projects, where aesthetics and fitting to specific roof shapes are essential.
They are also used when roof space is limited, as they can fit into places that regular solar panels won’t, such as corners and other tricky spots.
One popular use case of triangle solar panels is solar-powered RVs.
Solar mobile homes have very limited roof space with lots of obstacles and contours.
Triangle solar panels are perfect for that, as they can be strategically placed in those corners or arranged in patterns to maximize energy absorption without compromising on space.
What Are the Features of Triangular Solar Panels?
Typically, the feature will vary depending on the manufacturer and the model type. But generally speaking, the features you’ll find with triangular solar panels include:
- Shape: As their name implies, they are triangular in shape and offer three sides that follow the roof lines or other shapes.
- Size: Triangular solar panels are available in different sizes, depending on your requirements. You can find panels suitable for small residential roofs to large commercial applications.
- Output: Triangular solar panels also come with different outputs depending on their size and the efficiency of the cells. You can find panels with outputs ranging from as low as 100-watt solar panels to hundreds of watts
- Durability: Similar to other solar panels, triangular solar panels are highly durable and can be expected to last for many years with minimal maintenance or repairs.
- Installation: Triangle solar panels require special installation methods due to their unique shape which makes them slightly more complex and take more time to install than traditional panels
What Are the Types of Triangular Solar Panels?
- Monocrystalline Triangular Solar Panels: These panels are made from a single silicon crystal which makes them highly efficient and so they’re usually more expensive than other types. Their efficiency can be up to 25%.
- Polycrystalline Triangular Solar Panels: These panels are made from multiple silicon crystals which makes them a bit less efficient than monocrystalline but still highly effective. They offer an efficiency of around 13-16%.
- Thin Film Triangular Solar Panels: These are made from a thin layer of semi-conductive material, usually amorphous silicon. Their thickness of 1 micron makes them highly flexible and suitable for curved surfaces. Their efficiency is about 7-18%.
- Bifacial Triangular Solar Panels: These are two-sided solar panels, meaning they can absorb light on both sides. This increases their efficiency by up to 27% and they can be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline.
- Hybrid Triangular Solar Panels: These solar panels combine two or more types of solar cells, such as thin film and monocrystalline. This increases the chance of taking advantage of the best features from each type and so they offer a higher efficiency of up to 15%.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Triangular Solar Panels?
- Higher Energy Yield: Since the panels are designed to cover the corners and other small spaces, this allows you to fit more solar panels on your roof, which results in more energy being harvested.
- Aesthetically Pleasing: The triangular shape of the panels can make them blend in more easily with the roof so they can look better than square or rectangular panels. Especially, if your roof has an unusual shape and has a lot of corners or edges.
- Expensive Price: Due to their unique shape, triangular solar panels require special manufacturing processes so they are usually more expensive than traditional solar panels.
- Cell Cutting: If you have to cut a standard solar cell to fit it into a triangular panel layout, the cell’s performance could be compromised. Cutting can also lead to micro-cracks, which can reduce the efficiency of the cell.
- Wiring and Connectivity: Once cells are cut and arranged, they need to be interconnected. Depending on the design, this might be a bit more intricate for triangular panels compared to standard rectangular ones.
- Mismatch Losses: In a solar panel, if one cell (or a group of cells) underperforms compared to others due to its smaller size, it can limit the performance of the entire series string. This is because, in a series connection, the current is the same through all components. If one component (i.e., a smaller or compromised cell) can’t handle as much current, it becomes the limiting factor for the entire series.
- Waste: When fitting square or rectangular cells into a triangular panel, there’s a likelihood of waste material, both in terms of the cells themselves and the encapsulant materials. This can make triangular panels more expensive per watt than their rectangular counterparts.
- Additional Labor: Custom shapes often require more labor-intensive processes, such as manual cutting or additional steps in manufacturing, which can further increase the cost.
- Fewer Manufacturers: At this moment, there are only a few manufacturers who make triangular solar panels or they will only offer them on a custom basis. This makes them harder to find or purchase.
How to Choose the Best Triangular Solar Panels?
If want to switch to triangular solar panels, there are some things you should consider before making your decision. Here are a few tips that can help you choose the right ones:
- Look for High-Efficient Panels: Since triangular solar panels can be quite expensive, don’t waste your money on low-efficient models. Make sure to check the efficiency of the panels before purchasing them
- Check for Warranties: As mentioned earlier, triangular solar panels usually come with fewer warranties than traditional ones due to the limited information available. However, some companies offer longer warranty periods which can give you some peace of mind
- Check Compatibility: It’s important to make sure that the panels you choose are compatible with your roof and the rest of your solar system. You should also make sure that they meet local regulations and codes
Does Anyone Make Triangular Solar Panels?
Trienergia is the first manufacturer to offer triangular solar panels with an efficiency of up to 16.4% and a warranty of 12 years.
Can You Get Shaped Solar Panels?
You can get differently shaped solar panels based on your custom requirements.
What Shape Is Best for Solar Panels?
The best shape for solar panels is the one that maximizes the area and thus, increases the efficiency of your solar system.
Rectangular or square-shaped panels are usually better, but if your roof has an unusual shape, then a combination of triangular and regular panels may be a better option.
As promised, we’ve now covered everything you need to know about triangular solar panels.
We’ve discussed their features, pros and cons, and tips on how to choose the right ones. We’ve also answered some of the most common questions about them.
And if you ask me, I recommend only switching to triangular panels if you have a roof with an unusual shape. Otherwise, rectangular or square-shaped panels are usually the more cost-effective option.
Do you still have questions? If so, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to help out.