How Do Silicon Solar Cells Work
The main component of a solar cell is silicon, which has been used as a key part of electrical items for decades. They are often referred to as first generation solar panels as the silicon solar cell first started gaining traction in the 190s when the first solar panels were made, resulting in the first form of solar technology. Currently, they make up over 90% of the solar cell market.
Pure crystalline silicon is actually a very poor conductor of electricity. This is because at its core it is a semiconductor. The silicon that is found in a solar cell actually has a number of impurities in it, and this is done so that the other atoms that are added will mix with the silicon ones. This addresses the conduction issue that is presented by the silicon, as the newly mixed atoms work to improve the ability of the silicon to capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.
An atom of gallium contains one less electron than an atom of silicon, whereas an arsenic atom possesses one extra electron. When arsenic atoms are placed between silicon ones, there are extra electrons in the structure as a result of the mixture. As a result, an electron-rich layer is formed.
Key Takeaways: Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline
- Monocrystalline solar panels have black-colored solar cells made of a single silicon crystal, and they usually have a higher efficiency. However, these panels often come at a higher price.
- Polycrystalline solar panels have blue-colored cells made of multiple silicon crystals melted together. These panels are often a bit less efficient, but are more affordable.
- When comparing mono vs poly solar, both will save you money on electricity. The choice comes down to your personal preference, space constraints, and the best financing option for you
To compare your different solar panel system options,
Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Whats Best
When installing a solar power system for a home or business, choosing between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels is an important step in the planning process. But how do you decide which is right for you?
In this article, well break down similarities and differences between the two types of solar panels, going over costs, aesthetics, efficiency and more to help you determine the best choice for your solar installation.
Or, if youre ready to see how much you can save right away, connect with one of these trusted EcoWatch providers noted below.
Longevity Isnt Practically Affected
In theory, monocrystalline silicon is manufactured to a higher standard and will last longer than polycrystalline.
However, in practice, solar panels donât fail because of the silicon, but for other reasons. The number one reason is cracked glass, followed by other reasons such as damaged seals that allow moisture to creep in, potential induced degradation, and hot spots. Failure of the silicon itself isnât really an issue.
If you want to buy solar panels that last as long as possible, focus on getting solar panels with the longest product warranty. Solar panel warranties come in two parts: a product warranty that covers parts and manufacturing, and a power warranty that guarantees against power output loss. Panels that are manufactured to a higher standard will tend to come with a longer product warranty – as much as 25 years, versus 10 years for cheap panels.
How Silicon Is Made Into Solar Panels
Silicon has been used in solar technology since the 1950s, largely because there are limitless supplies of it. Over 90% of the Earth’s crust consists of minerals that contain silicon. Most of the material in sand, for example, is silicon dioxide, which occurs naturally as quartz.
Sand can be used to produce building materials such as cement and concrete. Quartz rock can be heated in a furnace with carbon to make metallurgical-grade silicon or, when also combined with iron, form an alloy called ferrosilicon. Both are used widely throughout the iron and steel industries.
But while metallurgical-grade silicon can be 99% pure, it still lacks the extreme purity needed for electronics. Refining it further yields a highly pure semiconductorgrade silicon, which can then be broken up to form the raw material for both mono and poly solar panels.
Crystalline silicon is already polycrystalline, in that its made up of lots of tiny crystals. The disorderly structure of these crystals means the silicon is quite grainy, which has implications later in terms of cost and performance .
The poly silicon is moulded into square ingotsessentially large slabswhich are cut down into smaller bricks. The bricks are sliced into wafers of less than a millimetre thick and then polished, to be used in solar panels and other electronics.
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What Types Of Solar Batteries Are There Lithium Ion Lead Acid & Flow Battery
You can use Flow batteries or Lithium Ion batteries, but Lithium Ion has higher efficiency than Flow Batteries. Now lets talk about what a battery actually does! Section: A battery takes electricity and stores it until its needed. When your house needs electricity, you are able to use solar panels to power all of your household electronics. Solar panel users will pay anywhere from $7 to $10 per watt while with stored solar energy they only have to pay $3 to $5 per watt. Those rates may be less depending on state and local government rebates as well as federal tax credits.
What Is The Lifespan For Polycrystalline And Monocrystalline Solar Panels
When we talk about the lifespan of solar panels, we refer to how long they can produce electricity at a minimum level of efficiency. Solar panels can last for decades, but their energy production declines steadily over time. Monocrystalline panels are expected to produce at higher efficiencies for longer periods of time than polycrystalline panels, but the technology just isnt old enough to say this definitively.
Most manufacturers offer two warranties on their solar panels: one for performance that covers the first ten years and another for efficiency that covers the first 25 years. Solar panels are expected to lose 10-20% of their efficiency after 25 years and may no longer cover the energy consumption of a household, but they should still produce electricity.
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Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline: Price Difference
Monocrystalline solar panels appear to be quite expensive when compared to polycrystalline panels.
The price of a monocrystalline panel ranges from $200 to $300, which mainly depends on the quality and size of a solar panel.
However, polycrystalline solar panels are relatively cheaper than monocrystalline panels. Depending on the size and quality of a solar panel, the price of polycrystalline panels ranges from $60 to $90.
Use our best solar panel buying guide to find the right solar panel for you.
Monocrystalline Solar Panel Advantages & Disadvantages
- Oldest and most developed technology.
- They usually convert at a higher efficiency.
- They are more space efficient because of their high conversion rates.
- They often look more attractive than poly solar panels.
- They have a long lifespan.
- Works better in full sun.
- They come at a higher price point.
- Not as efficient in the shade.
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Highest Cost: Monocrystalline Panels
Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive of the three types of solar panels because of their manufacturing process and higher performance abilities.
However, as manufacturing processes and solar panel technology in general has improved, the price difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels has shrunk considerably. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, monocrystalline solar panels now sell for just about $0.05 per watt higher than polycrystalline modules.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Monocrystalline Solar Panels Modules
- Mono solar panels have the highest efficiency rate
- Monocrystalline modules are space-efficient. Because these modules deliver the highest power output, they require the least amount of space comparing to other solar panels
- Mono solar panels have a long lifespan most manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty on their mono solar panels
- They perform better than other types of solar modules in low-light conditions.
- Monocrystalline modules are the most expensive
- If they are covered with dirt, the entire system may be affected
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Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline Solar Panel Lifespan
Most solar panels, whether monocrystalline and polycrystalline, have a lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. So, when choosing between the two, this will not be a crucial factor.
The lifespan of solar panels depends on their degradation, meaning their reduced output over time. The degradation between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels is similar. More important factors include the climate in which you live, how well the panels were installed, how well theyre maintained, and the quality of the materials.
What Is The Difference Between Monocrystalline And Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Solar panels use solar cells to capture solar energy and convert it into electricity. Solar cells are composed of raw silicon wafers shaped into a uniform size.
There are multiple types of solar panels, and each kind performs the same function, which comes down to capturing solar energy and converting it into electricity. The real difference is the composition of the technology used to perform that function: the type of silicon in the solar cell.
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What Other Solar Cell Technologies Are There
Although they make up a significantly smaller percentage of the solar panel market , there are other solar panel options available besides monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells. One technology you may have heard of is thin-film solar, which includes panels made from a variety of materials that tend to be more lightweight and flexible than typical silicon panels. However, thin-film technology lags behind crystalline silicon technology in terms of efficiency and performance. To learn more, read our article about the different types of solar panels.
Lowest Cost: Thin Film Panels
Thin film solar panels have the lowest cost of the solar panel types, largely because they are easier to install and require less equipment. However, they also have much lower performance abilities and require a substantial amount of space to generate enough electricity to power a home.
Plus, thin film panels degrade much faster than other panel types, meaning they need to be replaced more often, which leads to more long-term recurring costs.
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What Are Solar Panels
The basic purpose of solar panels is to convert solar energy into electricity. Each solar panel consists of a series of cells. The presence of a large number of solar cells allows to capture the maximum amount of sunlight and converts it into electricity.
An independent solar cell is capable of producing only a small amount of energy. However, when they work together in a collaborated circuit, they produce enough power to run our electric appliances.
In order to get maximum power, it is essential that the solar panel must face the sun directly. Hence, when more light strikes the solar panel, it can generate more electricity. Generally, use silicon as a primary material.
All solar panels work on a simple pattern. Each of the silicon solar panels has both positive and negative layers, which create an electric field, as we observe in case of a battery.
Sunlight travels in the form of photons. When these photons hit the surface of a solar cell, they tend to force electrons to leave their atoms. By attaching the conductors to positive and negative sides of a solar cell, an electrical circuit comes into existence.
As a result, electrons start to flow through this circuit, which produces electricity. In order to increase the power, you can align different solar panels into a solar array.
Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Whats The Difference
Monocrystalline solar panels contain solar cells which are cut from a single source of silicon.
Polycrystalline solar panels are created by melting smaller silicon fragments and blending them to create the solar cells.
Poly solar panels are a way to make use of the leftover bits of silicon from the mono panel manufacturing process. Once mono cells are cut, the silicon scraps are salvaged by melting them down and turning them into poly cells.
As you may have guessed, mono solar panels are more efficient than poly panels, because the single-crystal silicon cells allow electrons to flow freely through the cell.
As a result, the majority of mass-produced solar panels for residential and commercial projects are monocrystalline panels. A report from Solar Business Hub estimates mono panels represented 75% of the market share in 2020.
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Choosing Between Monocrystalline And Polycrystalline: The Bottom Line
There are some real differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Most discussions about mono vs poly usually center on performance and the improved efficiency of monocrystalline, which might give you an absolute efficiency improvement of 2% on your system.
If youâre a utility company running a large solar farm with thousands of panels, that kind of difference may end up having a large impact on the financial bottom line. But a home solar system might have a couple dozen panels at most, with the total system cost difference between mono and poly being around a few hundred dollars.
Thatâs not a huge difference for a home improvement project that could last for 25 years or more. With a small home solar system, an efficiency difference of one or two percent doesnât matter that much in the grand scheme of things. Instead, the biggest ROI impact will probably have nothing to do with performance, but rather curb appeal.
Itâs well known that low cost projects like adding nice flower beds to the front of our home can have an outsized return on curb appeal and the selling price of your home. The same principle applies to solar panels, especially if yours face the street.
Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline Solar Panel Price
One of the differences youll notice between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is the price. The process to create monocrystalline solar panels is more in-depth and results in a more efficient product. Polycrystalline panels are considered less efficient and are also less expensive to make. As a result, you can expect to pay more for monocrystalline panels when planning your residential solar panel system.
Its important to note, however, that you are getting an increased quality for the price. So while monocrystalline panels are more expensive to install on your home, they are also more efficient and are likely to result in a better return on your investment.
The average cost of home solar panels is $3 $5 per watt, for a total average cost between $15,000 and $25,000. The higher the quality of solar panels you buy, the more you can expect to pay. The price also depends on your location and the size of the solar system you need. If youre a traveler, you can also purchase solar panels for your RV, which tend to be less expensive.
Whether you decide to go with monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels, you will still be eligible for the solar tax credit , as long as you are purchasing your panels.
Interested in solar, but not sure where to start? Well help you take the first step. Fill out the form on this page to learn more.
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The Cost Of Mono And Poly Solar Cells
It is only a few years ago that silicon solar panels were considered to be expensive to purchase and install. This is because high-quality silicon was used, which was much costlier. The process of purification for the silicon before the addition of gallium and arsenic also added to this cost due to it being both expensive and time-consuming.
However, the further development of new technology means that the use of cheaper and lower quality silicon is possible without affecting the overall quality and efficiency of the solar cells. This means that silicon solar cellsare now more affordable than they were before, and the price is only continuing to fall. In addition to this, government subsidies have also contributed to the lowered cost.
What Is Polycrystalline Solar Cell
If larger crystals are formed in the process of growing crystals , and from such a crystal block are cut the plates to produce a solar cell, then such cells are called polycrystalline or multi-crystalline cells. The polycrystalline cell, which is recognizable by its light or dark blue color, is not a monochrome and some cells are lighter and some are darker. In polycrystalline solar panels the corners are not rounded. Cell color differences come as a result of the production process. Multi-crystalline silicon cells are more economically efficient than monocrystalline. The production of these cells takes place in such a way that liquid silicon is poured into molds that are cut into the plates. After solidification crystalline structures are formed and faults are created at the borders, which reduces the efficiency to 10-14% and the expected lifespan is between 20 and 25 years.
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Amount Of Dust Snow And Shade
According to some industry experts, monocrystalline solar panel systems have been known to break down if they are only marginally covered in snow or dust or a part of the panel becomes shaded. Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are somewhat more resilient in these conditions.
Therefore, if your roof is partially shady, or you live in a region where the climate is snowy or dusty, you might find polycrystalline solar panels to be a more suitable option. If you have a strong preference for monocrystalline solar panels even in this situation, you may consider installing a micro-inverter to counter these issues. However, that will mean an additional investment on hardware.