Monocrystalline Versus Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Solar panel systems come in different shapes, sizes and capacities. These factors determine the efficiency rate and reliability of one’s solar-powered assembly. When it comes to the actual solar panels, which is one of the most important components of the system, such parts vary greatly. Individuals can choose from the following types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film amorphous. All of these options are pegged with their own respective advantages and disadvantages.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Traditionally, monocrystalline panels can be found on most solar installations in the past decade. During the manufacturing process, silicon is processed into bars and cut into small wafers. This type of panel utilizes single-crystal silicon (hence the term ‘mono’ in the name).
Monocrystalline units provide ample space for electrons to move around. This results in higher efficiency rates than polycrystalline variants. From a cost perspective, systems that incorporate monocrystalline parts are generally more expensive. Both options come with a 25-year lifespan.
Waste from the original silicon used during manufacturing is a major concern for this type of solar panel. In the final stages of production, the silicon wafer is cut to suit the design specifications of the product.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline panels are created using several pieces of silicon, which are melted and forged into wafers. This type of unit is distinguishable via its dark, blue color. Monocrystalline units appear black. In high-heat environments, polycrystalline panels perform poorly and are unable to tolerate extremely hot temperatures for long periods of time.
With less room to move around the panel, electrons are limited in their ability to convert sunlight into energy. As a result, polycrystalline panels are less efficient – but also less costly to acquire.
Advancements in solar technology are making this type panel more robust and reliable. As of 2015, scientists have been able to boost efficiency rates for polycrystalline panels up to 21 percent.