Polycrystalline solar panels are one of the solar panel systems available to panel buyers. Solar panels are not only beneficial to the homeowners but they also render a service to the society and the environment. They reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the carbon imprints. The owners of a solar system save on their energy costs and feel good about doing their bit in saving the environment. A solar system consists of solar panels that are made up of silicon crystals. The job of these crystals is to convert sunlight into electrical energy. The electrons in these silicon crystals get into motion on receiving the sunlight and produce an electric current which gets converted into clean and green energy.
Solar panels for a photovoltaic (PV) system can be broadly classified into two categories: mono-crystalline (mono) and polycrystalline (poly). Both mono-crystalline and polycrystalline solar panels play exactly the same role in a photovoltaic system and that is to harness the energy from the sun and convert it into solar energy. Another similarity between polycrystalline solar panels and mono-crystalline solar panels is that they are both made from the same material, that is silicon and it is quite durable. While looking at solar panels for your home solar system, you need to first understand the primary differences in the technology behind both kinds of panels. Depending on your need, you can select from either of these two.
Let’s first understand what exactly polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels are.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The first solar panels based on polycrystalline silicon technology entered the market in 1981. Polycrystalline solar panels are made by melting several fragments of raw silicon together. Melted silicon is then poured into square moulds and cooled. These are then cut into perfectly square wafers that are used in the solar panels. Polycrystalline solar panels do not use a single crystal of silicon.
In common parlance, polycrystalline solar panels are also known as multi-crystalline, or many-crystal silicon panels, names that are derived from their manufacturing technology. The presence of multiple crystals in each cell restricts the movement of the electrons, which leads to polycrystalline solar panels having an efficiency level lower than that of mono-crystalline panels.
MonoCrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are made by forming higher grade silicon into bars and then cutting them into wafer size subsequently. They are made out of silicon ingots, which have a cylindrical shape. These cylindrical ingots are further cut on four sides to make silicon wafers and give the mono-crystalline solar panels their shape. This cutting optimizes their performance and lowers the costs of a single mono-crystalline solar cell.
Unlike polycrystalline solar panels, these types of panels use single-crystal silicon thus giving them their name of mono-crystalline. Since the cell in these panels comprises a single crystal, it facilitates free movement of the electrons which increases their efficiency by several notches. The composition of the cells is what marks the major difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells.
Difference Between Monocrystalline And Polycrystalline Solar Cells
Now let’s consider some other factors that make both these panels different from each other.
Advantages And Disadvantages
You as a homeowner need to evaluate the polycrystalline solar panels advantages and disadvantages before you come to a decision about whether polycrystalline is the right choice for you. We have listed out for you some major pros and cons of polycrystalline panels below.
- Easy on the pocket - When a homeowner goes in for a solar system, the primary motive behind it is saving money. This saving, in the long run, comes in the form of reduced electricity bills, but in the short run, you can save money by going in for the less expensive polycrystalline solar panels. This is one of the biggest advantages of a polycrystalline solar panel.
- Weather conditions - If the polycrystalline panel is covered with snow, dirt, or shade, the circuit of this solar panel does not break down easily.
- Accessibility - One of the reasons which deterred homeowners from going in for a solar system was its high price. Polycrystalline solar panel modules have now motivated people who could not afford earlier afford the polycrystalline solar cells.
- Environmental benefits - Along with a host of advantages that the solar system offers in general like reduction in greenhouse gases, polycrystalline solar panels go one step further in this mission. Some manufacturers like Mitsubishi that make polycrystalline solar panels have gone the extra mile in their products. Their intensive R&D has led them to introduce new technologies that have done away with the process of expensive soldering. This soldering contains lead and removal of this process has proven beneficial to the environment.
- Manufacturing process - The manufacturing process of polycrystalline solar panels does not involve the Czochralski method which is an expensive method and is used in making the mono-crystalline solar panels. The lower production cost reflects in their lower market price. This makes polycrystalline panels attractive for homeowners who are willing to compromise a little on the efficiency if they are getting a considerably lower price. Check out the video below for the manufacturing process of polycrystalline solar panels
- Space constraints - Since polycrystalline solar panels offer a lower efficiency level than their counterpart, the mono-crystalline solar panels; you will need to use a large number to get to your desired efficiency level. If you are running low on space on your roof then, you would want to go in for high-efficiency PV cells that take up less space and will give more per square foot electricity generation. Urban homeowners generally go in for mono panels due to the space restraint they face.
- Ownership of the solar system - If your mode of solar financing is through a power purchase agreement (PPA), then you would essentially be paying per kilowatt-hour for the electricity generated by your solar system. In this case, your savings will be made up of your monthly payments. However, if you intend to purchase and install your own solar system, then, it is advisable to go in for the high-efficiency mono-crystalline panels which will give you higher returns on your solar investment.
- Heat tolerance - Polycrystalline panels have a lower heat tolerance as compared to mono-crystalline solar panels and this affects their performance level as well as shortens their lifespan.
- Low light condition - Polycrystalline solar panels do not function well in low- light conditions and hence are preferred by homeowners who reside in areas receiving ample sunlight.
- Aesthetics - The speckled blue color of the polycrystalline solar panels is not as appealing as the black hues of mono-crystalline panels.
- Fragile - These panels are quite fragile and can suffer damage even with a heavy tree branch falling on them or a heavy object falling on them during strong wind conditions.
What’s New In Polycrystalline Solar Panels?
Listed below are some of the top polycrystalline solar panels in the US and the latest offerings by them to the solar industry.
Kyocera KK270P-3CD8CG Solar Panel
Kyocera designers have given their KK270P-3CD8CG to its customers and this panel has them floored with its gorgeous aesthetics. This panel comes in a charcoal frame Polycrystalline module and has a 16.4 percent efficiency range. Gearing up to 270 Watts of power, a maximal power current of 8.71 Amps, and a maximal voltage of 31 Volts, are some of the key features of this panel.
Canadian Solar CS6U-335P Solar Panel
The Canadian Solar CS6U-335P boasts of an effective range of 17.23 percent. Going by the industry standards, this is an above the average number of polycrystalline solar panels. It is powerful enough to generate electricity to the tune of 335 Watts and an output voltage of 42.6 Volts. The panel comes equipped with high durability and puts aside the snow and wind-related concerns of homeowners. It can withstand high-pressure levels up to 5400 Pa and 3600 Pa in snow and wind conditions.
Sharp NDAH330 Solar Panel
With an effective range of 17 percent, the Sharp NDAH330 has rightly earned a space in this list. Poly-crystalline silicon and tempered glass make this panel quite sturdy. It can cough up an energy output of 330 watts along with a maximal voltage of 37.8 Volts. Sharp solar panels can survive a cold temperature of -40 °F(-40°C) and can heat as high as 185 °F(85°C). Equipped to clean itself with rainwater, it reduces the maintenance work of the homeowner.
JA Solar JAP6-72-330/4BB Solar Panel
This panel is specifically built for the Solar Farm network. JA Solar JAP6-72-330/4BB comes with a high-efficiency range of 16.99 percent. In-built anti-reflective and anti-soiling surface are some key features of this panel and this feature protects against power loss due to cinders and dirt. This panel has been designed to sustain its efficiency level even in low light conditions. Added durability and tenacity comes with the tempered glass that has been used to make these solar polar panels.
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