Monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels
Ask the Architect By Juan Pacheco When it comes to choosing the most suitable photovoltaic modules for a project, I am faced with countless choices in terms of quality, performance and price. As with most things in life, I do try to get the best deals for our clients, often sacrificing performance for a competitive price. However trying to keep costs low is understandable, but sacrificing performance over price can severely affect a project. That is why I have created this little guide to help you navigate the sea of information related to solar panels. In this article, I aim to inform you about the differences between monocrystalline modules and polycrystalline modules. What are monocrystalline modules? This is the technology that initiated the photovoltaic revolution. Originated in the 1950s, monocrystalline solar panels are the oldest and most developed system to date. As the name implies, they are made from a single crystal of pure silicon. Manufacturers use the Czochralski method to slowly pull a single crystal seed of molten monocrystalline silicon and form an ingot. A crystal seed is a small piece of silicone that is used as the base for molten molecules. By providing the proper infrastructure, the molten molecules can be connected to form an ingot. While the seed is being prepared, the temperature is gradually lowered to help form a cylindrical shape.
Monocrystalline modules can be recognized by their uniform colour and appearance, which indicate the high purity of the silicon. What are polycrystalline modules? Polycrystalline solar panels are made up of multiple crystals. Instead of going through a slow and very expensive process of creating a single crystal, manufacturers simply put a crystal seed into a molten silicon mould and allow it to cool. Because of this casting method, the crystal surrounding the seed is not uniform and grows in multiple small crystals. What is the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline? The differences between the monocrystalline modules and the polycrystalline modules derive from their creation process. Mono solar panels are made from a single crystal seed, either in nature or created in a laboratory. As a result, they look more uniform and softer than polycrystalline modules. Poly solar modules, on the other hand, are created from blocks of crystals that give the module a metal scaling effect. Which should I choose? Obviously the larger and purer the crystal, the more efficient the solar cells. As a result, monocrystalline modules are about 10-15% more energy efficient than their poly counterparts.
On the other hand, polycrystalline modules were often considered inferior to mono solar panels because they are less efficient. But, here's the catch: because of the cheaper process, it costs about 20% less to create solar modules with monocrystalline structures. More than that, poly modules have been steadily improving their performance in recent years, pushing the standard to greater limits.
Continues next week British and Spanish qualified Architect