f you are shopping for solar panels, you’re likely to be inundated with choices - with such a wide range of monocrystalline and polycrystalline options available on the market, it can be puzzling to know what to go for. Perhaps one of the first questions you will have about solar panels, is whether monocrystalline models are really better and worth the price. We put together this overview to help you decide if monocrystal solar panels are right for you.
What are solar monocrystalline panels?
Monocrystalline panels are the oldest and by far the most high-performing panel type available for homeowners. The key difference between monocrystal panels and other options lies in the way they are manufactured: to make a monocrystal solar cell a single crystal of silicon is used, while polycrystalline models are produced with several crystals.
Manufacturing of monocrystal solar panels
Silicon is extracted
As we said above, a monocrystal solar panel is made of silicon - the second-most abundant element in the Earth's crust. The monocrystal panel manufacturing process begins with the extraction of silicon from sand by heating it with carbon at temperatures exceeding 3000° C.
A monocrystal ingot is formed
To produce a solar panel monocrystalline ingots are formed. For this purpose, a special method is used called the Czochralski monocrystalline silicon growth process, during which silicon is turned into a cylinder-shaped monocrystal block.
The ingot is sliced into thin discs
The next step in manufacturing monocrystal panels is slicing the monocrystal ingot into thin wafers with a wire saw. These monocrystal wafers work as a substrate for monocrystalline cells – the smallest power units of a monocrystal panel transforming solar energy into electricity.
Metal conductors are added
To produce solar cells for a solar panel monocrystalline wafer is given texture by chemical etching. This creates grid-like metal lines on the surface of monocrystal wafers, increasing the amount of solar light absorbed by monocrystal modules and improving monocrystalline solar cell efficiency. After that, phosphorus dopant is diffused on monocrystalline solar wafers to form a p-n junction.
To make a solar panel monocrystalline cells are assembled together
Once monocrystalline solar cells are manufactured, they can be connected with silver wires and assembled into monocrystalline panels. To protect the sensitive monocrystalline silicon layer, it is sandwiched between a front glass sheet and a plastic backsheet. Finally, all three layers of a monocrystal solar panel are encased in a large aluminum frame.
The strength of monocrystalline solar panels
Now that we've explored the production process of the monocrystalline panels, let's focus on what benefits this advanced solar panel monocrystalline technology has to offer.
Monocrystal solar panels perform better
The most apparent advantage of monocrystal modules is monocrystalline solar cell efficiency. To produce a high-performing solar panel monocrystalline technology works best, as it allows to achieve a 17-22% solar conversion rate. This means a monocrystalline panel can transform up to 22% of solar radiation it absorbs into electricity.
Monocrystal panels require less space
This benefit of monocrystalline solar panels is a direct result of their high efficiency. Since monocrystalline solar cells generally show better performance, fewer solar monocrystalline panels are needed to achieve the desired solar capacity. This makes monocrystal solar panels the ideal choice for households where space constraints can be an issue.
The temperature coefficient of monocrystal panels is lower
Despite what many people believe, solar panels aren’t completely heat-resistant. However, monocrystal solar panels tolerate high temperatures better than other types of solar panel modules. Monocrystal systems have a notably lower temperature coefficient - the percentage of solar panel output that is lost at each increase in degree Celsius. For monocrystalline panels, this coefficient is 0.35 to 0.40 % /°C as opposed to 0.39 to 0.43 % /°C for polycrystalline solar panels.
Monocrystal solar panels have a larger lifespan
Just like an average polycrystalline solar panel monocrystalline installation typically comes with a 25-year warranty, but its actual lifespan is usually larger. In fact, monocrystal solar panels can live up to 40 years or even longer.
Monocrystal solar rooftops look better
This factor largely depends on a customer's tastes, but most people find monocrystalline panels more esthetically pleasing. Due to a special manufacturing method of a monocrystal solar panel monocrystalline piece is grown in one direction. This affects how a monocrystalline solar panel interacts with light, which creates the color of monocrystal modules that looks black to the human eye.
Weaknesses of monocrystalline solar panels
While the advantages of monocrystalline panels seem to be quite convincing, you should also be aware of the few existing disadvantages of monocrystal solar panels.
Monocrystal solar panels come with a higher price tag
In comparison to a polycrystalline solar panel monocrystalline option is almost always going to be costlier. The average price for monocrystal solar is $1 to $1.50 per watt, so a standard-sized 250-watt monocrystalline panel can cost anywhere from $250 to $375, and the entire monocrystalline system can be worth $6,000-$9,000. By contrast, the price of polycrystal modules ranges from $0.90 to $1 per watt, or $5,400 to $6,000 for the entire system. However, in most cases, the price of monocrystal panels is justified by their high efficiency and durability.
Monocrystal solar manufacturing produces more waste
Another drawback of monocrystalline panels is a large amount of production waste. As monocrystalline solar panels are made from a monocrystal silicon piece, much of the material is lost during manufacturing resulting in a great deal of silicon waste.
Conclusion: the higher price is justified by excellent performance
As this overview of monocrystalline panels shows, giving a solar panel monocrystalline structure maximizes its efficiency. In addition to this, monocrystal panels are long-lasting and space-saving, while the black color of monocrystaline solar cells creates a more stylish and sleek appearance.
When compared with a polycrystalline solar panel monocrystalline solution has one significant downside, which is the higher price of monocrystal systems. The production of monocrystalline solar cells is more demanding in terms of source material and uses a more complicated monocrystal technology, resulting in a higher final cost. However, in most cases, higher upfront expenses of monocrystal solar panels pay off faster due to their superior performance. So, if you are ready to spend a little extra to get higher quality, a monocrystalline system is the way to go.