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Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?
Jun01

Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?

Most solar modules used today are either polycrystalline or monocrystalline, otherwise known as mono and poly. So what is the difference between poly and mono? For the sake of brevity, the difference between the two is that monocrystalline is composed of a single crystal of silicon, while polycrystalline is composed of many crystals.  Generally speaking, mono solar panels are more efficient but poly solar panels are a better use of your money. Monocrystalline Monocrystalline, which is also called mono or single crystalline, is the older of the two technologies and has been around since 1955.  Monocrystalline is still used to manufacture photovoltaic cells today and is arguably the most efficient material available. A monocrystalline solar cell is composed of a single crystal of silicon, a purity that can be identified by a dark, even coloring.  Extensive filtration is required to purify the silicon so it can be used for monocrystalline solar cells.   A single monocrystalline silicon seed crystal is slowly pulled from the high-heat molten silicon.  As it’s drawn upwards, the silicon cools and solidifies as a single ingot.  This cylindrical ingot is then sliced into thin pieces that are then cut into the cell shapes you see on a monocrystalline solar panel. Monocrystalline solar panel panels will typically have higher efficiency rates (15-20%), converting energy particularly well in low-light and lab conditions.  Mono panels will generally have higher nameplate ratings than poly.  Because monocrystalline solar cells usually have higher efficiency, these solar panels will make good use of limited roof space. The biggest draw-back is cost.  Mono solar panels come at a premium so unless you’re particularly limited on roof space, they’re not the best use of your money. Pros: • High efficiency • Good for limited space • Performs well in low-light conditions Cons: • High Cost • Sensitive to soiling and shade • More silicon is wasted in the manufacturing process Polycrystalline Polycrystalline, which is also called poly or multicrystalline, has been used since 1981.  Until recently, polycrystalline solar panels were easily identified by their solar cells that have a textured look resembling a granite countertop or shattered glass.  Most poly solar panels just have a dark blue color now. Polycrystalline cells are composed of multiple silicon crystals, which is a cheaper way to manufacture solar modules.  Polycrystalline cells are commonly made with a cast of molten silicon.  When these cells are being created, they cool faster, creating smaller crystals.  Just remember that poly means many because it has many crystals.  Because poly solar panels are easier to produce, they’re less expensive – making them the ideal choice for most people.   Though monocrystalline is still...

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Enphase M215, meet the 3rd generation of solar micro inverters

The solar micro inverter from Enphase Energy has come along way since their first generation M175 micro inverter released back in 2008. The Enphase M175 was considered the first commercially successful micro inverter followed by a successor, the Enphase M190 which was introduced in 2009. Since Enphase Energy began selling the M175 to date they have shipped more than 500,000 micro inverters making their product one of the most highly sought after solar inverter by customers. Say hello to the third generation of the solar micro inverter by Enphase Energy, pictured above the Enphase M215 will be released in early June 2011 and will be a game changer in solar inverter market by not only delivering better performance and simplified installation but is now backed by a 25 year limited warranty! One of the key improvements with the new Enphase M215 micro inverter is its innovative cabling system, which offers the benefits of a 12AWG trunk cable which bumps up the number of micro inverters that can be on a single branch circuit up to 17. The Enphase M190 can only support 15 micro inverters per branch circuit. The Enphase M215 is rated at 215 AC Watts which will allow the new inverter to be compatible with high power output 60 cell solar panels such as 250 watt and 260 watt rated solar panels. Mechanically, the Enphase M215 offers faster mounting through its single-bolt design, unlike its predecessors the Enphase M190 and M175 required two bolts to fasten each micro inverter to the rail. check out the video below, what do you think about the new Enphase M215 micro inverter by Enphase Energy? Will micro inverters phase out central string inverters and be the new standard in the solar industry? what do you...

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installing solar panels on a spanish s-tile roof

Installing solar panels on Spanish S-Tile or Curved Tile can be one of the most difficult roof tops to install solar panels onto. See solar racking components for an s-tile roof → These types of tiles are very popular in California and the west coast in general and have a tendency to be very delicate. Many professionals compare getting around on a Spanish S-Tile roof to walking on egg shells because many curved roof tiles will break when you walk on them incorrectly. After you get around the challenges of properly walking on a curved tile roof to minimize tile damage, it’s imperative to have a roof flashing system designed specifically for this typf of roof style. We recommend the Quick Mount PV Curved Tile Flashing with Mounts Check out the video below of how the Quick Mount PV Curved Tile Flashing System in 8 easy steps will help you install solar panels minimizing the risk of developing a leaky roof in the future. What do you think about Quick Mount PV Curved Tile Flashing with...

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Samsung now offering solar panels

Samsung is now in the solar panel business, introducing the Samsung LPC Line of Solar Panels with 15% efficiency that narrows gap against premium solar panels on the market such as SANYO and SunPower. Samsung Electronics, a global leader in consumer electronics, semiconductor and display technologies, has been developing its solar cell production capabilities for several years and recently entered the marketplace. It has taken its manufacturing expertise in semiconductors and developed its own line of highly efficient monocrystalline solar cells and panels. The first Samsung solar module offered is the LPC241SM, It stands out in today’s marketplace with its 15% module level efficiency, higher than any other product in its class. Samsung solar panels set a new benchmark for price/performance and narrows the performance gap against premium priced panels. The Samsung name brand and superior PTC power density of the LPC241SM provides a higher value to end-users. The quality of Samsung modules is evidenced by a world class peak power tolerance rating of -0%/+2%, guaranteeing full...

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which solar power system would you install?

Similar to a computer which is made up of not only the processor but a keyboard, mouse, RAM, memory, monitor, speakers..etc, there’s a lot more to solar power than just the solar panels. An ordinary solar power system includes solar panels plus mounting hardware, inverters, wires, clips, clamps, standoffs, L-Feet, grounding lugs, connectors, wire management, disconnects combiner boxes and many nuts & bolts not the mention the tools required to get the system installed. For someone installing a solar power system for the first time, it’s an overwhelming process of figuring out all the parts required to make up the entire system. Many times even experienced installers make several trips to the hardware store for missing parts. Why does installing a solar power system have to be like putting together a complicated jig saw puzzle? thanks to the developments in the solar industry, installing a solar power system does not have to be as difficult with the Andalay Solar Panels by Westinghouse Solar. The system by Westinghouse Solar requires the least amount of parts, labor and tools to install compared to any other solar power system on the market. The Andalay Solar system is made up of black Suntech 175 watt solar panels with Enphase M190 Micro Inverters attached directly to the frame of the solar panel. The frame of the Andalay Solar Panels act as the rails and attach directly to the roof with the simple mounting hardware supplied with the system. This is the type of innovation and efficiencies we need to take solar power to the masses, it needs to be more user friendly. Westinghouse Solar is leading the industry in terms of offering a complete solar power solution that any contractor or savvy do it yourselfer can install with ease. Would you rather install an ordinary solar power system or Westinghouse Solar? What do you think of Andalay Solar by...

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attaching solar panels to a metal roof

The electrical side of installing a solar electric system is a pretty straight forward process although when it comes to the mechanical aspect of attaching solar panels there can be a lot of variances based on the type of roof. One of our customers was involved with a new home construction project that had a standing seam metal roof. He called us and asked us to design and provide him with a complete solar electric system that would attach to the metal roof. The 4.1 kilowatt grid tie solar electric system consisted of 18 Canadian Solar CS6P 230 watt solar panels with an Enphase M190 Micro-inverter behind each solar panel converting the DC power generated by the solar panels into grid compliant AC power. Attaching the solar panels to the metal roof was easy by combining the UniRac SolarMount Rails with S-5-U Clamps made by S-5!. S-5! clamps attach to the seam of a metal roofing by the tightening of two “bullet-nosed” stainless steel setscrews against the seam material. The round point setscrews compress the seam material against the opposite wall of the clamp. The clamps will “dimple” the seam material, but will not penetrate it. Threaded holes in the clamp enable the easy attachment of the UniRac SolarMount Rails to the clamps. The customer was able to attach the solar panels to the metal roof by taking advantage of the S-5! clamps. The picture above shows the installed solar panels, what do you think of the outcome of his...

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