What’s the best type of solar panel?
Inevitably, when you decide to go solar, the question of what type of solar panel you should get will come up.
Type here is the cell or panel technology (Poly, mono or thin-film) and not the brand (e.g., Canadian, JA Solar, Sunrun etc).
There are a lot of different cell technologies. For a home or business owner, you only strictly need to be concerned about two, namely Polycrystalline (Poly) and Monocrystalline (Mono).
You have a third option in Thin Film solar cells, but they’re not as effective as the other two. I explain why below.
Which is the best type of solar panel and why?
Polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels, Poly and Mono for short, are the most used solar cell technologies around the world.
This is because they are the most efficient at converting solar energy into electricity.
90% of the solar market is crystalline solar cells. Both poly and mono are crystalline.
The alternative to mono and poly is thin-film. 10% of the solar market is thin-film solar panels. Why the big gap in use?
Crystalline solar cells like poly and mono have an enormous advantage over thin-film in that they are twice as efficient. You get almost double the energy using half as many panels.
Not sure what “the efficiency” of a solar panel is? Check out my beginner’s guide to solar panels, where I explain it.
Monocrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient on the market.
The efficiency of a monocrystalline panel ranges between 15-22% although some manufacturers are producing cells of up to 25% cell efficiency.
That is why mono is the best type of solar panel when compared to any other panel on the market today.
How are they made?
Made from a single slice of pure silicon crystal, monocrystalline solar cells have an even black colour which allows them to absorb more photons.
This contributes to their improved efficiency when compared to polycrystalline.