What Is The Best Type Of Solar Panel?

Published: 03-11-2019

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Thinking of buying solar panels but don’t know which to go for? Hundreds of companies manufacturing solar panels today, but not all solar panels are the same. There are several factors to take into consideration when you want to buy a solar photovoltaic (PV) system. To help you decide the best type of solar panel based on your needs, let’s take a critical look at the major types of solar panels. 

 

Types of solar panels

Today, there are three major types of solar panels available on the market with unique characteristics. Each solar panel type has its price point, as well as its benefits and drawbacks. Here are the details of each type of solar panel.


1. Monocrystalline solar panels 

Also called “single-crystalline cells,” monocrystalline solar panels are easily recognised by their dark colour and rounded edges. What makes them unique is that they’re considered to be made from a very pure type of silicon, which is why their efficiency rate can reach above 20%. The monocrystalline solar panels are made out of what is called “silicon ingots,” a cylindrical shape that helps the cells achieve higher efficiency. 

Pros 

  • Higher efficiency: Monocrystalline solar panels are able to convert the highest amount of solar energy into electricity than other types of solar panels. Their efficiency rates are typically 15-25 percent, making them a great choice for those who want to produce the most amount of electricity from a specific area. 

  • Less space: Since these solar panels have high power efficiency, it means you can get more power output from a specific space compared to other panel types. If you have limited space but want more power, monocrystalline solar panels are your best bet!

  • Durability: PV panels made from monocrystalline solar cells are first-generation solar technology and have been around for a long time. This proves that they are durable and can withstand the rigors of use. Most manufacturers of these panels put a 25-year warranty on their products. 

  • Heat tolerance: Performance tends to decline in all solar panel types when the temperature goes up as output decreases. However, monocrystalline panels are able to manage power output during warm weather, leading to lower output than other panels. 

Cons 

  • Expensive: The process involved in making monocrystalline solar panels are complex, and this makes them the most expensive option on the list. However, their longevity and power output easily cover up for this disadvantage. 

  • Fragile: These panels can easily be broken by tree branches or objects carried about by the strong wind. Similarly, the entire circuit can breakdown if they are partially covered with shade, dirt, or snow. 

 

2. Polycrystalline solar panels 

Unlike monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar cells (also known as multi-silicon cells) have a distinctive look. They tend to have a blue, speckled look due to the light reflecting off the silicon fragments in the cell in a different way than it reflects off a pure monocrystalline silicon wafer. They can be recognised within a solar panel for their rectangular shape when silicon is melted and poured into a mould. After it is cooled, it is then cut into perfectly square wafers. 

Pros 

  • Easy on the pocket: The process of making these panels is simpler and faster, making polycrystalline solar panels cost-effective. This makes them attractive to homeowners who want to save costs in the long run. 

  • Sturdy: Unlike monocrystalline solar panels, if these panels are covered with snow, dirt, or shade, the circuit inside does not break down easily.

  • Environmental benefits: Apart from the fact that solar panels in general aid the reduction in greenhouse gases, polycrystalline solar panels produce less waste than their counterparts because the leftover of the molten silicon is used in further production rather than discarded. 

  • Efficiency: One of the downsides of the polycrystalline solar panels used to be that they were thought to be inferior to monocrystalline panels in terms of efficiency. However, recent advancements in technology have seen the manufacturing of polycrystalline panels with efficiencies between 17-20%. 

  • Availability: Since these panels are easier to make and cost less than monocrystalline panel type, there tends to be a lot more of them available to the consumer market. In other words, you can readily find this type of panel in the market as well as its certified installers. 

Cons 

  • Less efficiency: In spite of technological advancement, the efficiency of polycrystalline-based solar panels is lower because of lower silicon purity. Most of these panels type typically operate at 13-16% efficiency. 

  • More space: You will need to use a large number of polycrystalline solar panels to get the same amount of power output that a monocrystalline panel will produce. This can be a real problem for urban homeowners who have space constraints. 

  • Heat tolerance: Another drawback here of polycrystalline panels is that they have lower heat tolerance, which affects their performance level as well as shortens their lifespan. 

 

3. Monocrystalline PERC 

Monocrystalline PERC technology is the latest type of solar panel, and it is attracting lots of attention in the industry because of its numerous benefits. At its core, PERC (which stands for either Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell or Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact) is simply a more efficient solar cell than other solar panel types which are reaching their physical limits. It’s not very different in construction from a typical photovoltaic solar cell, but it puts up a better overall performance. 

Pros 

  • Higher efficiency: One of the main advantages of mono PERC is that it achieves higher efficiencies than standard solar cells due to the dielectric passivation layer at the rear side of the cell. The layer makes it possible to achieve up to 1% absolute gain inefficiency.

  • Easy to produce: Mono PERC solar cells are easy to produce as they don’t require a lot of modifications to the existing cell manufacturing process. 

  • High performance: This solar panel type performs excellently in low light conditions, which is proof that power generation will be at optimum year-round.

  • Heat tolerance: High temperatures and shading have less impact on the performance of mono PERC, which means they don’t suffer a decrease in output when temperatures go up. In other words, it performs better at higher temperatures. 

  • Low light degradation: Light Induced Degradation (LID) is the effect that causes a module to lose a percentage of its power after exposure to sunlight. It is one of the disadvantages of other solar types, but mono PERC has very light degradation, guaranteeing more power at the end of the warranty (usually 25 years.) 

 


 

If you need additional information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us as our expert assessors can answer all of your questions and help choose the best products tailored to your needs. To get a free assessment, give us a phone call today on 08000835669. 

 


 

 

 

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