By Wavetra Staff – Andrew Akpeli
In this post, we shall let you understand not just the different type of panels out there in the market especially in Nigeria but also their economic consideration.
Efficiency of solar panels
Every type of solar panel varies in how much power it can generate.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline typically has the highest efficiencies and power capacity of all types of panels. Most monocrystalline solar panels often achieve efficiencies above 20 percent, while polycrystalline solar panels usually have efficiencies ranging from 15 to 17 percent.
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to generate more power than other types of panels due not only to their efficiency, but also to the fact that they have come in higher wattage modules. Many monocrystalline solar panels come with power capacity exceeding 300 watts (W), some exceeding 350 W. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels tend to have lower watts.
This does not mean that monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are not physically the same size-in fact, with 72 or 96 cell variants (usually for large-scale installations), both types of solar panels tend to come with 60 silicon cells each. But even with the same number of cells, more electricity can be produced by monocrystalline panels.
Thin-film solar panels
Thin-film solar panels tend to be less efficient and less powerful than monocrystalline or polycrystalline varieties. Based on the specific material used in the cells, efficiencies will vary, but they usually have efficiencies closer to 11 %.
Unlike monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels in standardized variants of 60, 72 and 96 cells, thin-film technology is not available in uniform sizes. As such, power capacity will depend largely on its physical size from one thin-film panel to another. Generally speaking, the thin-film panel technology will exceed the power capacity per square foot of monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panel.
Economic consideration of different types of solar panels
Manufacturing processes differ between monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film ; as such, there is a different price tag for each type of panel.
Monocrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline panels are probably the most expensive option of all types of solar panels. This is largely due to the process of manufacturing-because the solar cells are made from a single silicon crystal, manufacturers have to absorb the cost of creating these crystals. This process, known as the Czochralski process, is energy-intensive and results in silicon wasted (which can be used later in the production of polycrystalline solar cells).
Polycrystalline solar panels
Typically, polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels. This is because, instead of a single, pure silicon crystal, the cells are produced from silicon fragments. This enables a much simpler process of cell manufacturing, thus costing less to manufacturers and ultimately end users.
Thin-film solar panels
The cost of thin-film solar panels will depend largely on the thin-film panel type ; CdTe is generally the cheapest type of solar panel to produce, while CIGS solar panels are much more expensive to produce than either CdTe or amorphous silicon.
Regardless of the cost of the panel itself, due to additional labor requirements, the overall cost of installing a thin-film solar panel can be lower than installing a monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panel system. Thin-film solar panel installations are less labor-intensive because they are lighter and more maneuverable, making it easier for installers to carry and secure panels onto the rooftops. This means lower labor costs, which can contribute to a less expensive solar installation as a whole.
There are a lot more to consider before making a choice on the type of solar panels required for your installations in terms of efficiency and cost. Attend Wavetra Energy Academy today to get further exposure to balancing efficiency and cost in carrying your installations.