When you are planning on getting solar panels, you may find that there are a lot of different kinds to choose from, and you might get overwhelmed. Instead of just buying panels based on price, you should understand which panels are best for your needs.
The differences might seem complicated, but they are relatively easy to understand and you may find that one kind of panel actually works better for your needs than another. You may be surprised to find that though monocrystalline panels are the most expensive, they aren’t always the best for everyone.
What Are Monocrystalline Panels?
Monocrystalline panels are used to harvest light and energy from the sun. They are just one of many different kinds of solar panels you can use. The cells in monocrystalline panels are set up in a unique pyramid pattern which allows more energy to be absorbed with the same surface space.
These panels are often compared to polycrystalline panels but have a few distinct differences that may make one kind of solar panel more efficient than another.
What Makes Them Different?
As you might guess from the name, monocrystalline panels are made up of various solar cells. Each one of these cells is made from a single piece of silicon. This makes them much more efficient than polycrystalline panels. However, because this is a more complicated process, this also means that they are more expensive.
However, unfortunately, they still aren’t super efficient. While some newer models have managed to push a 50 percent efficiency, most models are only around 15 to 20 percent efficient.
Due to the way they are made, with solid silicon cells, they tend to be a distinct black color, vs a dark blue color like many other solar panels have. They also have silicone coating to reduce reflection and allow the solar panels to be even more efficient.
They are also able to handle the heat more. This means they are not only more efficient in peak hours, but during high temperatures as well. A lot of heat can affect polycrystalline panels, which makes their already limited efficiency even lower.
How Are They Made?
There are silicon crystals that are made specifically for monocrystalline panels. They are grown in an ingot shape, which is reminiscent of a log. These logs are then sliced thinly and then placed on the solar panels in an octagon shape.
The octagon shape makes them the most efficient as there is the least amount of wasted space. Even circles or squares allow for spots of wasted space, but octagons make sure the whole panel is used fully.
Because there is a lot of waste from cutting silicon into the perfect shape, they tend to be less sustainable than other solar panels. There are also not many items that are reused. Polycrystalline are less efficient because of the way they are made, but they are also more sustainable since they use fragments and leftover silicon to make the cells.
Pros and Cons
- Some of the most efficient solar panels
- Can handle higher levels of heat
- Takes less space for the same wattage
- Works even in low light
- Expensive, costing as much as half a cent more per watt than polycrystalline panels
- Doesn’t have a longer lifespan than other solar panels
- Less sustainable than other methods of harvesting solar power
Should I Get Monocrystalline Panels
Monocrystalline panels aren’t for everyone. They are more expensive, and with about the same lifespan as others, and those who aren’t using them effectively may find the price increase isn’t worth it.
However, they do have their benefits. If you have limited space on your roof, having more efficient solar panels can allow you to get more solar power for the same amount of space. They can also be good for people that are living off-grid, as they will need a lot of solar power, so having more efficient panels can save a lot of money.
For solar-powered objects like lights and signs, a monocrystalline panel allows for smaller space with higher efficiency, so it could be a better option to prevent damage from wind. They are also great for areas that aren’t going to be checked on a lot, like signs on the side of the road, as they have a higher heat tolerance and can be left to their own devices often enough.
However, if you are just looking for a couple of panels to offset your solar costs, then you may not get the benefits of monocrystalline panels enough to offset the cost increase. In those cases, you may want to look at other kinds of solar panels like polycrystalline.
- Wallender, L. (2022, November 4). Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: What’s The Difference? Forbes Home. https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/solar/monocrystalline-vs-polycrystalline-solar-panels/
- Lavaa, A. (2022, November 20). What is Monocrystalline Solar Panel? Advantages and Disadvantages | Linquip. Industrial Manufacturing Blog | Linquip. https://www.linquip.com/blog/what-is-a-monocrystalline-solar-panel/