Types of Solar Cells

Mono-Crystalline versus Poly-Crystalline Cells

Mono-crystalline

Oor single-crystalline, cells are grown from a single silicon wafer. They are the most efficient type of PV cell. Because of the way they are grown, mono-crystalline cells are rounded. An early industry innovation was to trim the cell sides to pack more cells closer together in modules.

Multi-crystalline

Or poly-crystalline, cells are made up of variously oriented, small individual crystals that have been cast in a block. They range in color from bright blue to black. With their shape and crystalline structure, the multi-crystalline cells with small crystals resemble dark granite counter tops. Cells made with larger crystals resemble the structure if oriented strand board, but are glossier. Multi-crystalline cells are rectangular and closely butted into modules. Their larger surface area and denser packaging make up for the small difference in efficiency between multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline cells, leaving them essentially equivalent in generating efficiency.

Solar panels used to power homes and businesses are typically made from solar cells combined into modules that hold about 40 cells. A  typical home made from solar cells combined into modules that hold about 40 cells. A typical home will use about 10 to 40 solar panels to power the home. The panels are mounted facing toward the South in the Hawaiian Island, or they can be mounted on a tracking devise that follows the sun, allowing them to capture the most sunlight. Many solar panels combined together create one system called a solar array. For large electric or industrial applications, hundreds of solar arrays are interconnected to form a large utility scale PV system. Traditional solar cells are made from silicon, are usually flat-plate, and are generally the most efficient.

Poly-crystalline PV Panel Mono-crystalline PV solar panel

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