Solar panels come in several different types of solar panels, depending on the materials they’re made of. Among them are polycrystalline and thin-film panels. Let’s take a look at their differences and benefits. Polycrystalline panels are made of silicon crystals, while thin-film solar panels are made of different materials, including amorphous silicon, copper indium gallium selenide, and cadmium telluride.
Thin-film solar panels
There are two major types of thin-film solar panels: crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon. Both types are relatively inexpensive but differ in their efficiency. The crystalline silicon technology is generally the more cost-effective choice and is the most commonly used for solar power systems. Although amorphous silicon modules have the lowest efficiency, they are more durable than crystalline silicon and can be stacked for higher efficiency.
The main difference between crystalline and thin-film solar panels lies in their conversion efficiency. While crystalline solar panels get the highest conversion efficiency when exposed to sunlight, they suffer a significant loss of power when the temperature is higher than 25 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, thin-film solar panels are not affected by temperature as much, which increases their efficiency.
As with all types of solar panels, thin-film solar cells have some disadvantages. Cadmium, the material used to make them, is a highly toxic substance. It is also challenging to work with and could be more environmentally friendly. Other types of solar panels are made from other materials, such as silicon or cadmium telluride, which are more efficient than crystal cells and more cost-effective.
Monocrystalline solar panels are produced from a single continuous crystal structure. These black solar panels are most efficient in the 15 to 20% efficiency range. However, some newer experimental monocrystalline models can achieve 50% efficiency or more. They also provide a sleek aesthetic look to a solar panel.
Monocrystalline panels are superior to polycrystalline panels when generating electricity in low-light environments. Monocrystalline solar panels contain the highest grade of silicon, which means they can produce more energy in the same space. However, monocrystalline solar panels may crash in cold or dusty climates. To prevent crashing, you may need to install micro-inverters, which add to the cost. Monocrystalline panels are also more heat-tolerant than polycrystalline solar panels. Because of this, they are less likely to fail if they are in hotter climates.
Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels. The main reason for this difference is how the silicon is processed. The silicon is poured into square molds in polycrystalline solar panels and then cut into individual cells. On the other hand, monocrystalline panels require careful control of the process by which the silicon solidifies. This complicates the manufacturing process and increases the cost of monocrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline solar panels can produce a variety of electrical energy. Typically, these panels produce between 250 and 400 watts per panel. The amount of power produced by your panels will determine the cost of your installation and the number of panels you need. Most people aim to install three to five kilowatts of panels, but more power is needed if you have a large house or live off the grid.
Polycrystalline solar panels are made from silicon, a chemical element in the earth’s crust. When heated, silicon fragments are formed, forming wafers. These wafers are cut into thin strips and assembled to form panels. While silicon is not a natural substance, it can be mined and refined from various resources. This process is energy and pollution-intensive.
The cost of polycrystalline solar panels is lower than monocrystalline solar panels, but they tend to be larger and require more space than monocrystalline panels. However, they still have the same benefits as monocrystalline panels.