Monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels? If you’re a newbie to the solar energy market then it’s doubtful that you’ve heard of either. However, if you’re thinking about investing in solar energy to power your home, then it’s a good idea for you to become familiar with some of the industry jargon, especially when it comes to the different types of solar panels available. Luckily, we’re here to make the transition into solar energy as easy as possible, by highlighting the difference between a solar cell and solar panel, and by helping you to decide where you stand on mono vs poly solar panels. We know that a solar-powered home forms part of the legacy you’re creating for your family’s future, so it’s important to get things right.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels, as we all know, are generally attached to the roofs of our houses. They harness the power of sunlight (solar power) and turn it into electricity, but few of us know exactly how they work. Most solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) panels, made from many PV cells, sometimes referred to as solar cells. Each solar cell is a carefully constructed form of positive and negative monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon layers. In a very small number of instances, a solar panel can be made from a single amorphous silicon sheet.
However they are constructed, the silicon employed works in the same way. As a semiconductive material, silicon is able to absorb energy photons from sunlight, initiate the motion of electrons, and create direct current (DC) electricity as a result. This series of actions is called the photovoltaic (light-electricity) process. Metal framework, glass casing, anti-reflective coating, and conductive wiring is added to create a panel of mono and poly cells. While the solar cells are given the important job of creating electricity, the solar panels are organized in such a way that they redistribute the energy created and pass it through to an inverter, where it is converted into a more user-friendly alternating current (AC) electricity. This is the electricity that you can use to successfully power your home.
Different Types of Solar Panels
The first solar panels were invented in 1883 but, as you can imagine, they’ve come a long way since then in terms of efficiency and affordability. If you decide to give solar energy a try, you’ll have to make some choices when it comes to the type of panels you want installed, so we’ve listed the main types of panels available below, and we’ve highlighted the main differences between both amorphous vs crystalline solar, and mono vs polycrystalline solar, so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of each.
Amorphous Solar Panels
More often than not, you’ll come across amorphous silicon cells in smaller solar panel designs, such as calculators and solar-powered garden lamps, but their use in larger applications is on the rise. The main benefits of amorphous solar panels relate to performance. When compared to crystalline panels, they function better in low-light situations and can withstand higher temperatures, without affecting output. They’re also more flexible and lighter. However, they’re considered less energy-efficient than crystalline panels, because you need around three times the number of panels to achieve the same output as crystalline. Another drawback to using amorphous solar panels is that they have a shorter lifespan, meaning your investment won’t last as long.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline
If you’ve come across different colored solar panels then you may be wondering which is better, black solar panels vs blue. Monocrystalline panels are black and polycrystalline panels are blue, at least, that’s how they appear. Each type of panel looks different because of the way in which they’re made. Monocrystalline cells are made from a single crystal silicon ingot, and polycrystalline cells are made from molten silicon, poured into a mold. The outside silicon cools at a quicker rate than the inside, creating many (poly) crystals, and this is what sparks the blue-ish sparkly hue.
Monocrystalline cells, when compared to polycrystalline cells, offer a higher solar cell efficiency, which means they produce a higher output per panel. However, bear in mind that this is only true when used in peak conditions, which means when located at zero degrees (North in the Southern hemisphere or South in the Northern hemisphere). Due to its multi-faceted surface, the poly cell performs better in weaker light conditions and when placed on Western and Eastern-facing surfaces.
Solar Tiles vs Solar Panels
Solar tiles, or shingles, are a more visually attractive option than solar panels, as they are designed to look just like a normal tiled roof. Solar tiles are particularly useful if you live in an area where panels are prohibited due to heritage conservation, or if your roof is the wrong shape or size for conventional PV panels. However, cost can be a factor for many homeowners.
Solar tiles are a fantastic option for those who can afford them and if you just happen to need a new roof then the cost suddenly becomes a lot more reasonable. But it’s not just the cost of a solar tile that makes a solar tile roof more expensive. The energy output isn’t as high as a solar panel either, so you won’t be saving as much money on your electricity bill. Things to bear in mind when trying to create a sustainable legacy for your family long-term.
Investing in the Future
Most of us like to do our best when it comes to living responsibly and setting a good example for our children. We recycle, upcycle, and reuse everything we can. Investing in green energy is something extra that we can all do, that will not only end up paying for itself over the years, but will also keep our children and our children’s children safe, long after we’re gone. As fossil fuels become less and less available, it’s more important than ever to create an energy-independent future for the generations to come. We’re here to help that dream become a reality.