Over the last decade, solar technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in efficiency and affordability. However, despite this multitude of improvements, the basic construction of solar panels has remained the same since their invention. These components are:
- Silicon Solar Cells
- Aluminium framing
- Tempered glass
- Eva Encapsulant
- Plexiglass backing
- Junction box
There are variations in the quality and manufacturing of all of these panel components, with the most essential being silicon solar cells. These cells make or break the efficiency of panels; the quality of such is a significant point of competition between solar panel manufacturers. There are three main types of panels depending on the quality and make of silicon used to construct these panels. These are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film panels.
Monocrystalline cells are constructed from singular sheets of cut silicone. These cells are made by forming silicone into bars and slicing it into wafer-thin panels. The fact that these panels are a single clean piece means that the flow of electrons is much less obstructed than polycrystalline panels, leading to higher efficiency. These panels are also more aesthetically pleasing to many consumers due to their uniform colouring and generally neater appearance. This form of production is more expensive than polycrystalline panels as it requires higher quality silicone. As a result, these are typically the most expensive type of panel on the market.
Polycrystalline panels are manufactured by melting multiple pieces of silicon into a single panel. This construction method is much cheaper. However, the fact that these cells are made of numerous smaller silicone crystals means that the flow of electrons is less smooth than in monocrystalline panels, leading to low efficiency. These panels are also generally considered less aesthetically appealing than monocrystalline panels. Many of the most affordable solar panels utilise this production method, meaning they are prevalent within the Australian market.
Thin Film Panels
Unlike the two panel types above, thin-film panels are made by pouring silicon directly onto a backplate instead of creating individual cells. These panels are less efficient than monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels and are typically less common within the Australian solar market. While they can be more creative in shape and orientation, there is a large number of factors against this panel type, such as less choice when it comes to inverters and the fact that it takes time for these panels to settle, resulting in inconsistent production for the first year of your installation.
To conclude, as these panel types become cheaper, their efficiency tends to decrease. Typically monocrystalline panels are the preferred choice, however, it is always best to talk to a certified solar professional. If you would like to explore our range of panels and find out what would be best for you, feel free to get in touch here!
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