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How Silicon Solar Panels Work

How Silicon Solar Panels Work

In a time where most people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, many homeowners are considering investing in solar panels. The government’s Feed In Tariff (FIT) ceased earlier in 2019, but this does not necessarily mean that homeowners will lose out. In fact, in the wake of the end of the FIT, solar panel providers are becoming more competitive, which is driving down the market price of solar panels. The result? Solar power is becoming progressively cheaper to install.

Most people opt for crystalline silicon solar panels, but there is actually a big difference between mono and polycrystalline. Here’s what you need to know.

How Do Silicon Solar Cells Work?

Solar panels are made out of silicon, which has long been a vital component for all electrical items. Silicon cells were actually invented as early as the 1950s and are therefore often referred to as the first generation of solar panels.

Although more than 90% of solar cells are currently made of silicon, crystalline silicon is not a good conductor of electricity. So, to make solar panels, several impurities are mixed in with the silicon to improve its conductivity. This mix of pure silicon with additional atoms makes the silicon better at harvesting the energy from the sun and converting it into electricity.

Monocrystalline Solar Cells

Monocrystalline solar panels are easy to identify because they are black. They are made from pure silicon, which allows them to convert sunlight into electricity incredibly efficiently.

The Pros:

  • They are the most efficient type of solar cell.
  • They can last for up to 50 years, and some manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty.
  • Due to efficiency, they take up less space than other types of solar power.
  • They perform well in low levels of sunlight (cooler climates and cloudy areas).

The Cons:

  • Due to the cutting process they are very expensive compared to other types of solar panel.
  • There is a lot of waste in production, which is not great for the environment.
  • Efficiency is impacted by high temperatures.

Polycrystalline Solar Cells

Polycrystalline have a slightly different formation to the purer monocrystalline, and cells are made by pouring melted silicon into a mould.

The Pros:

  • Polycrystalline solar panels are much cheaper than monocrystalline.
  • They do not result in wasted silicon.
  • Whilst efficiency is impacted by high temperatures, the negative impact is not as high as it is with monocrystalline. This, coupled with its lower price, makes polycrystalline more appealing to people living in hot climates.

However, despite their ecological and economical advantages, polycrystalline solar panels have several disadvantages:

  • The low levels of silicon purity means that polycrystalline solar cells are less efficient than monocrystalline.
  • Because of their reduced efficiency, you need more panels, so they take up more roof space.

Are you considering investing in solar power? To find out what type of solar panels would be best for you, and to get a no obligation quote, get in touch with a reliable local solar panel specialist.

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