What are the Differences between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Photovoltaic Cells?

When we talk about photovoltaic cells, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline would be mentioned. Photovoltaics, is the method which is used to generate electric power with the help of solar cells. The solar cells convert the energy from sunlight into electricity which is stored in the battery box.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are both crystalline silicon cells. However, this article is meant for people who want to understand the difference between the two as the cost range and quality is different for each of these. When you know what makes them different, you will be able to identify which type would be perfect for you.

Understand Photovoltaic Cells

The photovoltaic cells are mostly made from silicon. They are made using silicon because it is an ideal semiconductor. What this means is that silicon help generate power much quicker as the electrons will be able to easily travel within it.

Pure silicon needs to be extracted, even though it is one of the most abundant elements, which is found in the Earth’s crust. Carbonthermic reduction is the common method which is used for the extraction. The process involves the heating of silica in carbon’s presence. The extracted silicon would then cool and form into crystals. The degree of difficulty for extraction and the size of the crystals is the basic difference between both monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells.

If, enough caution is taken, the silicon would be able to be extracted as just a single huge crystal which makes it possible for a monocrystalline to be extracted. As for a small piece of silicon which consists of various crystals, polycrystalline cells can be made.

Surface

The monocrystalline cells have a more perfect surface since they are made from just a single crystal as compared to the polycrystalline cells.

Absorption of Solar Energy

Due to the perfect surface, the monocrystalline cells are able to absorb and produce a greater amount of solar energy as compared to polycrystalline cells which absorb less solar energy.

Price

Since the monocrystalline cells require the use of a more cautious method, they are more expensive. Whereas, the polycrystalline cells are simple to produce, and hence, are the cheaper option.

Space Efficiency

When we look at the space efficiency, monocrystalline cells are a clear winner. It has been observed that a single square meter of it would generate about 190 W, whereas, the polycrystalline cell would only be able to generate 5.25 percent less.

Appearance

Monocrystalline cells have a more appealing appearance as they are uniformly black. On the other hand, polycrystalline cells are grainy.

Which Photovoltaic Cell to Choose?

In terms of performance and aesthetics, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are similar. Choosing between the two only depends on your budget and preference. A polycrystalline cell solar panel is 20 percent cheaper and would only take up a bit more space.

However, if space is an issue, then monocrystalline cell solar panel should be the preferred option between the two.

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