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Advantages and disadvantages of solar panels: mono, polycrystalline and thin film

In the solar energy market there is a wide variety of solar panels, mono, poly and thin film, then I will explain what are the Advantages and disadvantages of solar panels.

People often wonder what the advantages and disadvantages of solar panels are , to install it in their home and generate clean and safe energy.

What are Monocrystalline solar panels?

advantages and disadvantages of solar panels

Description and Appearance
This is the oldest and most developed technology of the three.

Monocrystalline panels, as the name suggests, are created from a single continuous crystal structure. A monocrystalline panel can be identified from the solar cells, which appear as a single flat color.

How is a monocrystalline solar panel made?

They are made through the Czochralski method.

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The  Czochralski process  is a method of crystal creation used to obtain single crystals of semiconductors (eg silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide), metals (eg palladium, platinum, silver, gold), salts, and synthetic gemstones .

The process is named after Polish scientist Jan Czochralski, who invented the method in 1915 while researching the crystallization rates of metals.

He made this discovery by accident, while studying the rate of crystallization of metals when, instead of dipping his pen into ink, he dipped it into molten tin and drew a tin filament, which later turned out to be a single crystal.

If you want more in-depth information, check here.

The solid crystal silicon ingot that is formed is then finely cut ingot which is known as a silicon wafer. This becomes a cell.

The Czochralski process produces large cylindrical ingots. Four sides of the ingots are cut to make silicon wafers.

A significant amount of the original silicon ends up as waste.

What is a polycrystalline solar panel?

advantages and disadvantages of solar panels

General description and appearance

Polycrystalline or multicrystalline are a newer technology and vary in the manufacturing process.

Polycrystalline construction
also begins as a silicon crystal ‘seed’ placed in a vat of molten silicon. However, instead of stretching the silicon crystal seed as with Monocrystalline, the silicon cuvette is simply allowed to cool.

This is what forms the distinctive edges and grains in the solar cell.

Polycrystalline cells were previously believed to be inferior to monocrystalline because they were slightly less efficient, however due to the cheaper method by which they can be produced along with slightly lower efficiencies they have become the dominant technology in the panel market. residential lots.

In November 2015, Trina Solar announced that it had produced a multicrystalline cell with an efficiency of 21.25%.

This should allow them to produce polycrystalline modules with efficiencies between 18-20%, a concept that was thought to be impossible as recently as 2013.

The new record for p-type multicrystalline solar cells is based on continued polycrystalline wafer quality improvements that have helped push standard 60-cell polycrystalline panels from 240W to 260W in recent years.

Polycrystalline solar panels are now very close to monocrystalline cells in terms of efficiency.

What are thin film solar panels?

advantages and disadvantages of solar panels

General description and appearance

Thin film panels are a totally different technology to Mono and Polycrystalline panels.

They are a new technology compared to mono and polycrystalline cells and are considered a developing technology as great improvements in this technology are expected in the next 10 years.

A thin film panel can be identified as having a solid black appearance. They may or may not have a frame, if the panel is frameless, it is a thin film panel.

Thin-film panels are made by depositing a photovoltaic substance on a solid surface such as glass.

The photovoltaic substance used varies and multiple combinations of substances have been used successfully. Examples of the most common photovoltaic substances used are:

  • amorphous silicon
  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  • Copper indium gallium selenide (CGIS)
  • Dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC)

Each of the above are referred to as different panel “types”, but they all fall under the umbrella of being a Thin Film panel.

Thin -film cells have a reputation as the “worst” solar panel technology because they have the lowest efficiency.

However, this is only because they are less energy efficient, which just means that they require the most space to generate the same amount of power.

Because they are becoming the cheapest panels to produce due to low material costs for thin films, they are quickly becoming the most economically efficient panel types.

Depending on the technology, prototype thin film modules have achieved efficiencies between 7% and 13% and production modules operate at approximately 9%. Future module efficiencies are expected to increase by around 10-16%.

The thin-film PV market grew at an annual rate of 60% from 2002 to 2007. In 2011, close to 5% of US PV module shipments to the residential sector were based on thin film.

Next we will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of solar panels

The  advantages and disadvantages of solar panels are based on the way they are manufactured, the brand and performance of each of them.

Advantages of monocrystalline solar panels

1-Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates as they are made from the highest quality silicon  . On October 2, 2010, SolarCity announced that it has developed the world’s most efficient solar panels. The new panels convert more than 22% of sunlight into electricity.
2-A few days later, Panasonic announced that it had surpassed that milestone. A   Panasonic  solar panel has set a new world record module conversion efficiency of 22.5% on a commercial-size prototype using solar cells based on mass production technology.
The test results were confirmed by the renowned Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology  . The 72-cell, 270-watt prototype incorporates newly developed enhanced technology that will eventually go into production at maa.

3-Panasonic also says it is introducing the HIT® N330, the latest addition to the company’s high-efficiency heterojunction PV module product line and its most powerful PV module to date. It will be available in the UK and other European markets from March 2016. Manufactured at Panasonic’s vertically integrated solar manufacturing facility in Malaysia, HIT® N330 boasts 19.7% module-level efficiency and a rated power output of 330 watts.

4-Monocrystalline silicon solar panels save space. Since these solar panels produce the highest power outputs, they also require the least amount of space compared to other types.
 However, monocrystalline solar panels produce marginally more power per square meter of space used in an array and so on.
5-Monocrystalline panels have a long service life. Most  solar panel manufacturers give a  25   -year warranty on their monocrystalline solar panels.
Because both types of crystalline solar panels are made from crystalline silicon, a very inert and stable material, these solar panels are likely to last well beyond their 25-year warranty life.
6-Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in hot climates. With all solar cells, the production of electricity decreases as the temperature increases.

However, this output degradation is less severe in monocrystalline panels than in polycrystalline solar panels.

However, in practice, the difference is very small. The level at which each solar panel output decreases as the temperature increases is called the temperature coefficient and is published with the specifications for each panel.

What are the disadvantages of monocrystalline solar panels?

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive. In recent years, a disruption in the production efficiencies of polycrystalline ingots, cells and modules has meant that the  polycrystalline solar panel  has become more common and has benefited from cost advantages over mono panels.
Most manufacturers still making mono panels have targeted the higher end of the market.

What are the advantages of polycrystalline solar panels?

The process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and costs less. The amount of residual silicon is less compared to monocrystalline where the waste is greater.
two.Polycrystalline solar panels tend to have a slightly lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar panels  .
Polycrystalline solar panels will tend to have a higher temperature coefficient than solar modules made with single cells. This means that as the heat increases, the output of this type of cell will decrease. However, in practice these differences are very minor.

Disadvantages of polycrystalline solar panels

1.The efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels is typically 14-16%  . Due to the lower purity of silicon, polycrystalline solar panels are not as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels.
Lower space-efficiency  . You typically need to cover a larger surface area to generate the same electrical power as a  solar panel  made of monocrystalline silicon. However, this does not mean that every  monocrystalline solar panel performs better than those based on polycrystalline silicon.
Monocrystalline and thin-film solar panels tend to be more aesthetically pleasing as they have a more uniform appearance compared to the mottled blue color of polycrystalline silicon.

What are the advantages of thin film solar panels?

1.Mass production is simple . This makes them and potentially cheaper to manufacture than crystalline-based solar cells.
Their homogeneous appearance makes them look more attractive.


  • It can be flexible, which opens up many new potential applications.
  • High temperatures and shading have less impact on  solar panel performance  .
  • In situations where space is not an issue, thin film solar panels can make sense  .

What are the disadvantages of thin film solar panels?

  • Thin film solar panels are generally not very useful in most residential situations. They are cheap, but they also require a lot of space.
  • SunPower’s monocrystalline solar panels produce up to four times the amount of electricity than thin-film solar panels for the same amount of space.
  • Low space efficiency also means that PV equipment costs (eg support structures and cables) will increase.
  • Thin-film solar panels tend to degrade more quickly than monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, so they generally come with a shorter warranty.
After this analysis, you already have a clearer idea of ​​the  advantages and disadvantages of solar panels , which can help you make a good decision when choosing solar panels for your home.

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