What's the difference between the different kinds of solar panels?

Submitted by Andrew on Thu, 24/06/2021 - 14:39
Difference between different kinds of solar panels

When reading through the selling points of different panels you'll see retailers mention that the panels are half-cell or full-cell, as well as if they are polycrystalline or monocrystalline, but often it’s not exactly clear what this means.

For example, we can tell you that we only stock panels made with monocrystalline cells and that's something we are quite proud of as we only want to supply our customers with the very best.

But until you know what that means, you don’t know why it matters.

So, today, let’s break down what these different panel manufacturing methods are, and what they mean for you and your home system.

What are Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline panels?

The first thing to understand is that solar panels are made up primarily of cells made from silicon crystals. These crystals are what absorb solar energy from the sun to convert into electricity.

A monocrystalline cell is constructed from a single silicon crystal, formed into long bars then cut into wafers. Because it is composed of only a single crystal, the electrons have more room to move when compared to a polycrystalline cell, resulting in higher levels of efficiency.

Meanwhile, a polycrystalline cell is made of multiple cells that have been melted into a mold to form the solar cell wafer. This results in a smaller area the electrons can move through due to a greater number of imperfections, brought on by the number of crystals melted into a single mold, which results in lower levels of efficiency.

As stated before we stock only monocrystalline cells, offering our customers the highest levels of efficiency possible.

What are half-cell and full-cell panels?

A panel is made up of a number of cells, these cells are what absorb solar energy for it to be converted into electricity. On your average full cell panel there are around 60 to 72 cells. A half cell panel halves the size of these cells in order to double the number of cells on a panel, so a half-cell panel averages 120 to 144 cells.

This has a great number of benefits that may not be immediately obvious:

  • Due to less mechanical stress upon the panel, and lessened risk of micro cracking due to the smaller size of the cells, Half-cell panels tend to be more durable.
  • They perform better in high-heat conditions, an important concern when it comes to Australian installations.
  • The increased number of cells feeding power to the inverter results in better performance in low light conditions and higher levels of efficiency.
  • Reduced hot-spot issue occurrences. Hot spots are a common issue in poorly constructed solar modules. Due to the lower amount of heat generated by each individual half-cell panel and their smaller size, hot-spots are much less likely to occur in half-cell panels.
  • This does not mean that full-cell panels are a bad choice however, they are often more affordable than half-cell panels. But half-cell panels do offer a number of great advantages and are becoming more and more common as time goes on, as their manufacturing becomes more practical.

If you’d like to learn more about the solar panels we have available for your solar installations, you can see our full range of panels here. Or, check out what solar specials we have available in your region here.

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