Not all solar power is equal because not all solar panels are created equal. Let’s break down what’s different about them and the pros vs. cons of each one.
Monocrystalline solar cells are the most recognizable because of their characteristic 4-sided look. The cells get this unique shape by the Czochralski process.
This results in large cylindrical ingots, basically what makes up the solar cell, four sides are then cut out to give the cells their signature look.
- Space efficient. Since it has the highest efficiency it takes up less space.
- Tend to live the longest.
- Most expensive.
- If one panel or even part of the panel is covered, shaded by dirt, snow or anything else chances are it won’t work.
- More efficient in warm weather, but if it gets too warm performance suffers.
- Produces a lot of waste due to the process of cutting the ignots, which cannot be reused.
- Tend to be extremely heavy because of the glass front.
Polycrystalline is also known as polysilicon and multi-crystalline silicon. These cells are made with raw silicon that is poured into mold and then cooled to perfect square solar cells.
- Less waste and costs less then then monocrystalline process.
- Tend to have a lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar cells.
Thin-Film Solar Cells
- Because of the lower efficiency rate the panels need to cover a larger area to yield the same power as a monocrystalline panel.
There are three different versions of thin film solar cells: Amorphous Silicon, Cadium Telluride and CIGS. Amorphous Silicon has the lowest efficiency rate of about 8%, so it is mainly used in smaller applications like a calculator. Cadium Telluride has an efficiency of about 9-14% and to date it is the only thin-film technology with lower costs than traditional solar panels.
CIGS have shown the most potential of all of the thin-film solar panels and contains the least amount of toxic material. This is also the technology that EnerPlex uses in all of our products. Since this is considered the best, we will focus on the pros and cons of CIGS panels.
- Has a simple black look.
- The panels can be flexible! Some companies choose to back their panels with glass, making them inflexible. However, EnerPlex uses plastic which means you can fold them up to take anywhere.
- Higher temperatures and shade have a much less impact then on monocrystalline.
- Water resistant.
- Take up a little more room then the monocrystalline solar panels when in use.