Different types of Solar Panels available

Not all panels perform the same, and not all panels are priced equally. Quality solar panels from SunPower for example, will last 40+ years, while a cheap Tier 3 panel may only last 1-2 years, even though they come with a 25 year warranty. It is worth noting that solar panels are designed and engineered to survive and operate over 25+ years of extreme weather conditions, however, the competitive solar market has put enormous pressure on solar manufacturers to reduce costs, and in some cases, this results in cutting corners during the manufacturing process, by either dropping quality control standards, using lesser quality materials or even rebranding cheaper panels, hoping they will last the distance.

It is highly recommended to use solar panels from manufacturers who have a strong history of performance.

There are many types of solar panel technology such as quasi cells, thin-film, amorphous and CIGS, however the solar market is predominately dominated by 2 types of solar cells, Mono-crystalline and Poly-crystalline solar wafers.

mono-poly-1024x1004Mono crystalline wafers are darker than poly crystalline wafers

Mono vs Poly

Mono-crystalline solar wafers are usually darker in appearance, almost black, and usually take the shape of a square cell with rounded edges. Mono cells are more efficient than poly cells and generally yield more power under low irradiance, and therefore generate more in cloudy conditions.  During the production process, there is more wastage with mono solar cells and are generally more expensive to produce than poly. SunPower only use mono-crystalline cells are currently produce modules with over 21% efficiency.

Poly-crystalline solar wafers are usually blue in appearance and take the shape of a square cell. Poly-crystalline cells are cast in blocks and sliced into wafers reducing the amount of wasted silicon, so are therefore cheaper to manufacture than mono cells. Poly-crystalline are the most popular cells in the world due to their strong performance under high irradiance and cheaper price compared to mono. Most solar farms and commercial solar installations use poly panels. Kyocera only use poly-crystalline cells and have panels operating at 89% still working in the field after 30 years.