There are two main industry common solar panel types, Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline, both are PV (photovoltaic) solar modules however the structure of the silicon used within each is different. Monocrystalline silicon is formed with a continuous crystal lattice structure making it highly purified and very efficient at converting solar energy into electrical energy. The process of manufacturing silicon with a singular crystal structure makes it slightly more expensive than Polycrystalline silicon which is formed with many small crystals.
Each silicon type has its own advantages and disadvantages; with Monocrystalline costing more but being more efficient and Polycrystalline being cheaper but less efficient. However, Monocrystalline PV panels with their greater power output efficiency are seen as being better suited for long term investment as well as installations where space is limited and this post is focused on exploring the unique advantages and disadvantages of Monocrystalline solar panels.
Why Monocrystalline is generally the industries standard
Monocrystalline photovoltaic electric solar energy panels have been the leading choice for many years. They are among the oldest, most efficient and most dependable ways to produce electricity from the sun.
Each module is made from a single silicon crystal, and is more efficient, though more expensive, than the newer and cheaper polycrystalline and thin-film PV panel technologies. You can typically recognize them by their color which is typically black or iridescent blue.
Advantages of Monocrystalline
Determining what is an advantage or a benefit is a relativistic exercise and in this case the base of reference are the other types solar panel technologies. With this caveat in mind, here are 8 good reasons why many people choose monocrystalline solar technology:
Monocrystalline solar panels are first generation solar technology and have been around a long time, providing evidence of their durability and longevity. The technology, installation, performance issues are all understood. Several of the early modules installed in the 1970’s are still producing electricity today. Single crystal panels have even withstood the rigors of space travel!
Some other solar websites suggest that single crystalline solar panels can last up to 50 years. According to solar engineers, even though this may be possible, there will be a slight drop off in efficiency of around 0.5% on average per year. So although this type of solar panels can last a long time, there will come a time when the lower efficiency makes it economically desirable to replace the panels especially as the efficiency of newer panels continues to increase.
Most performance warranties go for 25 years, but as long as the PV panel is kept clean it will continue to produce electricity.
Monocrystalline solar panels are able to convert the highest amount solar energy into electricity, thus if your goal is to generate the maximum possible electricity at your area, monocrystalline is an obvious choice.
They have become particularly common for urban settings, PV rooftop installations are costly and most installers want to make financial outlays back as quickly as possible.
Low installation costs
Solar panels make up around 60% of the overall cost of an installation.
With the world rapidly moving towards renewable energy sources and with new developments in transportation, etc., we envision a time in the not-too-distant future where the type of solar array used; specifically the ability to scale up, will also factor into house price values.
Monocrystalline panels are amongst the greenest and cheapest to actually manufacture, some may argue thin film panels are less per panel, but they require more panels per install which somewhat negates this notion.
Solar panels products use cadmium telluride (CdTe). Cadmium is a heavy metal that accumulates in plant and animal tissues. Cadmium is a ‘probable carinogen‘. While Cadmium doesn’t pose a threat while the solar panel is in service, disposing of the panels has to be done properly, which often comes at a large cost.
Monocrystalline panels are not harmful or hazardous to the environment.
Monocrystalline panels produce more electricity per m/2 than other panels which improves the owners cashflow. They reduce the dependancy on public utility companies and create truly renewable energy.
Disadvantages of Monocrystalline panels
As with most installs of Solar Panels the initial cost is often quite high. Silicon feedstock to manufacture solar panels is expensive, but has been steadily dropping in recent years.
Compared to some other panel types Monocrystalline will work out to be the most expensive, but like any good PV adviser, we would stress for you to look at the Payback compared to other panels when making your decision about which one to choose.
Solar panels are fragile, and they can be broken relatively easily, falling trees, branches or objects carried by a strong wind could all easily break a panel. Generally they are covered with a layer of glass which offers protection from most common things, but not the more extreme.
The other most common type of solar panels are Polycrystalline panels. Read about the advantages and disadvantages of Polycrystalline panels »
Monocrystalline panels suffer a reduction in output once the temperature from the sunlight reaches around fifty degrees or more.