Solar cells are a complex technology that have been around for decades. Lucky for us in this day and age, the technology has improved immensely in the last decade. Solar panels can easily produce enough power to offset a home’s energy use and they last for years.
But not all solar panels are created equal, literally!
How Solar Cells Are Made?
What Makes a Good Solar Cell?
Just like they describe in the video above, most solar panels (90%) are made of silicon. What makes one panel better than another is the purity of the silicon used. So why does silicon purity matter?
The more pure the silicon the more aligned the molecules are, the more aligned the molecules are the better the panels will be at converting sunlight into electricity.
The purity of the silicon is directly related to the efficiency of the panel. Efficiency isn’t everything but for those trying to get the most out of their available roof space it definitely matters.
Monocrystalline Solar Cells
Monocrystalline solar cells are easy to recognize because they’re uniform in color. This uniform color is an indication of the high-purity silicon used to make these types of panels. So not only do these all-black panels look good, they’re more efficient too.
While monocrystalline panels are more expensive they make up for it by helping you produce more power. In addition monocrystalline panels perform better at high temperatures which can be a concern for us here in the desert west where temperatures can top the 90s and 100s during the summer months.
- Highest efficiency
- Use highest grade of silicon
- Uniform black color looks nice
- More expensive
Polycrystalline Solar Cells
Polycrystalline solar cells are not made from the purest form of silicon, which means that they are not the most efficient. However for someone who wants to go solar on a budget and has the roof space to spare, polycrystalline panels can be a good option.
You’ll notice that polycrystalline panels look blue and don’t have a uniform appearance. You’ll also notice that they’re made with perfectly square wafers without the gaps in between compared to monocrystalline. This means less silicon is wasted when making these types of panels.
- Lower efficiency
- Lower grade silicon
- Simpler process to manufacture
- Less expensive