Generating your own power through solar installation is the most environmentally sustainable power generation solution that ultimately saves you a lot of money, and being self-reliant in this way is a major benefit during power grid outages. You can even earn money by selling excess power your system generates back to the power grid.
Solar panels capture solar energy from sunlight and, through the other components of the system (inverter and solar battery) convert and store it for use as electricity to power appliances, lighting, and water heating.
Mono-crystalline and Poly-crystalline solar panels are silicon-based. Silicon is an abundant element and it is very durable.
Which type of solar panels are best?
You need to consider several factors, including costs, energy efficiency, and aesthetics. The right solar panel system for you will be determined by your specific circumstances and your goals.
There are three types of solar panels:
- Thin Film
Mono crystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most widely developed type of solar panel and use the oldest type of solar panel technology. They are made from mono crystalline solar cells.
How are these made? Mono-crystalline solar cells are based on a manufacturing process called the Czochralski Method and are made from pure silicon. They are made when a single silicon crystal is immersed into a vat of molten silicon metalloid. It is removed extremely slowly; this enables the molten silicon to form a solid crystal (ingot) around the original crystal. This is then cooled and sliced into thin wafers. Each wafer is manufactured into a cell. Cells are ultimately assembled to create a solar panel.
This type of solar cell appears black due to the interaction of sunlight with silicon. The cells are square with rounded corners, and there are small gaps between cells at the corners. The backing sheets and framing systems vary in color.
Poly-crystalline Solar Panels
Poly crystalline solar panels are a popular, newer technology that is also made from silicon. This type of solar cell, however, is made from many silicon crystal fragments that have been melted together. The original crystal is immersed into the vat of molten silicon, however, in this case, the crystal is left to fragment and cool in a mold. Once cooled completely, the fragmented silicon is removed from the mold and sliced into wafers. These are assembled to create a polycrystalline solar panel.
The reflection of sunlight off poly-crystalline crystals gives this type of panel a blue, potentially speckled color. Most backing and framing systems for this type of solar panel system are silver in color. These panels are square and have no gaps between the corners of cells.
Thin-Film Solar Panels
Thin-film solar panels are a newly developed, emerging technology in the solar panel industry. While they may be manufactured using silicon, they may also be made with materials such as amorphous silicon, copper indium gallium selenide, and cadmium telluride. The primary material is placed between two very thin layers of a conducting material and a protective glass layer on top. This type of solar panel is extremely thin, although the framing system may be large. These panels appear blue or black, depending on the specific material used.
Domestic solar installations use either mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline solar panel systems. Thin-film panel systems are suitable for commercial and industrial buildings with extensive roof spaces.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline solar panels – which are better?
There are differences between how monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells perform. The biggest of these are in terms of cost and efficiency.
How much electricity do you need to generate to meet your home’s power needs? Your chosen professional solar installation provider will be best positioned to discuss this with you and it will be based on the size of your home, the size of your family, and your average daily power consumption. Fewer monocrystalline panels are required to generate solar power.
This is a major factor in the choice of solar installation, especially for residential installations.
- Thin-film panels are the cheapest (and by far the least efficient).
- Monocrystalline panels are currently the most expensive option, however you need fewer panels over a smaller area.
- Polycrystalline solar panels were developed to help reduce the costs of solar panels. They are currently more affordable than monocrystalline panels.
This refers to the amount of energy (which is converted into electricity) a panel can produce from the sunlight it is exposed to.
- Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels. They perform at a 15%-20% efficiency rate. The efficiency rate for polycrystalline panels is slightly lower, at 13% to at least 16%.
- Thin-film panels are by far the least efficient solar cells and require a large number of panels installed over a widespread area.
This refers to the impact a rising outdoor temperature has on the efficiency of the system. This factor is similar for both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Monocrystalline panels, however, tend to have bigger efficiency fluctuations with temperature changes than polycrystalline panels. Polycrystalline panels perform less well in low light and low-temperature conditions.
The durability of both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels in hail is similar.
Which Type of Solar Panel is Best?
The right solar installation system for you will depend on the purpose of and siting of your solar panels.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels:
- Premium solar product.
- Suit residential properties with smaller rooftop areas.
- Maximize energy production in a smaller space.
- Higher heat tolerance.
- Most advanced solar cell technology.
- Black in color with a sleek aesthetic.
Poly-crystalline Solar Panels:
- Ideal for residential installations with a large roof space or property space for panel placement.
- A more affordable option for homeowners.
- Lower heat tolerance.
- Less efficient in low light.
- Simpler manufacturing technology – minimal ecological footprint.
- Seamless rooftop appearance, however, may be a non-uniform blue color.
Both of these types of solar panels have a lifespan of more than 25 years.
When you make your decision, base it on several factors:
- Power needs.
- Your personal aesthetic preference – how do you want it to look?
- Rooftop or property’s space availability or constraints.
- The roof’s natural sunlight exposure.
- Financial considerations.
The decision to have solar panels installed at your home or business premises is an investment in the future of the planet and for your own financial benefit as well.