Monocrystalline panels use crystalline silicon produced in a large sheet which has been cut to the size of the panel, thus making one large single cell. Metal strips are laid over the entire cell and act as a conductor that captures electrons.
Mono panels are slightly more efficient than Polycrystalline panels but the don't usually cost more than Poly Panels.
Polycrystalline panels use a bunch of small cells put together instead of one large cell. Poly panels are slightly less efficient than mono panels. They are also claimed to be cheaper to manufacturer than mono panels although we have noticed them to be very similarly priced.
There are a couple different ways a polycrystalline silicon cell can be made:Cast Polysilicon:
In this process, molten silicon is cast in a large block which, when cooled, can be cut into thin wafers to be used in photovoltaic cells. These cells are then assembled in a panel. Conducting metal strips are then laid over the cells, connecting them to each other and forming a continuous electrical current throughout the panel.String Ribbon Silicon
String ribbon uses a variation of the polycrystalline production process, using the same molten silicon but slowly drawing a thin strip of crystalline silicon out of the molten form. These strips of photovoltaic material are then assembled in a panel with the same metal conductor strips attaching each strip to the electrical current.
It is also said that string ribbon solar panels are even cheaper to manufacturer than the cast polysilicon method. If this were the case then why are String Ribbon Panels the most costly? This technology saves on costs over standard polycrystalline panels as it eliminates the sawing process for producing wafers. Some string ribbon technologies also have higher efficiency levels than other polycrystalline technologies.
Thin film panels are produced very differently from crystalline panels. Instead of molding, drawing or slicing crystalline silicon, the silicon material in these panels have no crystalline structure and can be applied as a film directly on various materials. Variations on this technology use other semiconductor materials like copper indium diselenide (CIS) and cadmium telluride (CdTe). These materials are then connected to the same metal conductor strips used in the other processes, but do not necessarily use the other components typical in photovoltaic panels as they do not require the same level of protection needed for more fragile crystalline cells.
The primary advantages of thin film panels lie in their low manufacturing costs and versatility. Because amorphous silicon and similar semiconductors do not depend on the long, expensive process of creating silicon crystals, they can be produced much more quickly. Because they can be applied in thin layers to different materials, it is also possible to make flexible solar cells.
thin film panels do have several significant drawbacks. They are the least efficient type of solar panel currently available. Thin-film technology also uses silicon with high levels of impurities. This can cause a drop in efficiency within a short period of time.
The best choice for powering your home are going to be Mono or Polycrstal panels. Their higher efficiency and greater durability make them the best option.
If prices are real close, and they should be, monocrystal panels would be our first choice. However, they both are going to get the job done, and do it well!