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Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film solar panels?

When choosing a solar panel there are 3 types of technologies available on the market today, these include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film amorphous. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are solar cells that are made from crystalline silicon. In the industry these panels are simply referred to as ‘mono’ and ‘poly’ panels. Both mono and poly panels are very similar in terms of performance, with mono being a slightly superior panel in terms of efficiency. The purpose of this post is to shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages of the 3 different types of panels and which one you should chose for your next project.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

As the name suggests monocrystalline solar panels are produced from a single continuous crystal structure. A monocrystalline panel also has a characteristic single flat color. It is one of the oldest and most developed of the three technologies. This panel is the characteristic solar panel and offers a sleek, simple, and aesthetic look.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline panels are a relatively newer technology. The Polycrystalline panels start as a silicon crystal ‘seed’ placed in a vat of molten silicon. Rather than draw the silicon crystal seed up as with mono the vat of silicon is simply allowed to cool. This is what forms the distinctive edges and grains in the solar cell. In terms of efficiency polycrystalline solar panels are very close to monocrystalline and continue to get better with time.

Thin film Solar Panels

Thin film solar panels are totally different than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Thin film panels are a new technology that is ideal for houses with shading issues and requires more space. Aesthetically the panels appear as a flat sheet with no lines that run through the panels. Thin Film solar panels are less efficient when compared to monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, and do not seem to be making any steady improvements in the next decade. 

Resources Used:
  • https://www.seia.org
  • solarreviews.com
  • https://news.energysage.com
  • https://www.bea.gov

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