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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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bring low cost solar power to the poor

Nicole Kuepper is on the path to solving the biggest barrier to going solar, cost. One of the primary reasons why solar cells require such a large upfront investment to get started is because of the intensive manufacturing process. The 23 year old scientist has found out a way to use simple household items to manufacturer solar cells on the fly using nail polish and an ink jet printer. Nicole’s technology uses the same theory of an ink jet printer to print solar cells that are not made from silicon onto a substrate which then can generate electricity. Currently the technology is in it’s infancy stages, although its great to see this type of development and innovative thinking in the solar power industry because its very much needed help solar power reach grid parity. What do you think about Nicole’s process of developing solar cells? In what other ways can the cost of solar panels be reduced for end...

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around the world with solar energy

Magellan was the first person who attempted to circumnavigate the Earth back in the 1500s. Back then ships were powered by the wind by using large sails to catch prevailing winds to propel the vessel forward. Magellan and other sailors of their era depended on renewable energy to help them achieve their goals. PlanetSolar, is an organization that is planning to circumnavigate the Earth in 2010 using a ship powered entirely by the sun. The surface of the ship will be composed with solar cells basically turning it into a giant sunlight collecting power generator to propel the ship on it’s voyage. The solar panels will power an electric engine that allow the ship to achieve speeds of up to 10 knots. The plans are for two people to sail on a 120 day trip following the equator and stopping at various ports along the way to promote solar energy, how cool is that? I think this is a great project to help people realize the true power of solar panels and how they can be applied in many ways to energize our lives. What do you think about PlanetSolar’s...

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taking window blinds to the next level

Traditional window blinds are critical in terms of energy efficiency, they keep the heat out of your building by serving as a barrier to the sun’s rays. Blight, an innovative company recently displayed their new illuminating solar blinds concept, which combines flexible solar cells into venetian blinds to collect energy during the day and provide light during night. Typically blinds have a wide surface area and soak in the sun all day, why not turn the sunlight that hits windows binds into something useful? that’s exactly the problem the company plans to solve with Blight. They’re adding a little bit of technology to an old concept of window blinds to make them more useful in our everyday lives. How does it do it? Well the solar cells harvest sunlight and turn it into electricity which is stored in a small battery. At night charge is given off the battery into a electroluminescent foil that illuminates the room. Electroluminescent foil is a fabric that provides ultra low energy light sort of a a soft diffused glow when it is combined with a electrical current. I’m not sure how bright the light would be from electroluminescent foil since it only provides a glow. Would it be a practical to light up a room or is it more for show? What do you think about the...

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sharp solar for more than just rooftops

Sharp, a leading manufacturer of solar panels that power homes and businesses across the world is now bringing the same technology to your mobile devices. This week the company announced the a solar panel developed exclusively for mobile devices. The the LR0GC02 solar panel has an output of 300mW (milliwatts) with an efficiency of 13%. The voltage of the solar panel is 4.5v which is great for charging Lithium-Ion batteries. Since the solar panel has a small footprint of 67.5 x 41.0 x 0.8mm, Sharp had to use semiconductor packaging technologies to keep the solar cell super thin to be compatible with many of our ultra thin mobile devices. Do you think we will see more electronic devices such as cell phones with integrated solar...

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