Capitalizing on solar energy is quickly becoming a sought-after goal for many companies in the Kingdom, with massive access to sunlight, combined with its cost-effective nature.
But if you’re considering to invest into solar energy for your property, then you should know that there are different kinds of solar panels, each with different properties, advantages vs. disadvantages, costs and effectiveness.
There are 3 main types of solar panels being used today: Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Thin-Film panels.
Solar panels work by combining solar cells that convert sunlight to electricity using a semi-conducting material, the most common material used is called Silicon. Silicon wafers are assembled and aligned together to form a rectangle then covered with a sheet of glass and framed to stay intact.
Both mono and poly panels use silicon as their semi-conductor, however the main difference is that mono panel solar cells are made from single cut of pure silicon crystal, while poly panels are made from a combination of fragments of different silicon crystals, melted together then cut into wafers. On the other hand, thin-film panel cells are made from a variety of different semi-conducting materials altogether, with the most common used material being Cadmium Telluride (CdTe). Another common material used for thin-film panels is amorphous silicon, this type of panel can be similar to mono and poly panel compositions due to the use of a type of silicon, however they are non-crystallized silicon placed on top of glass, metal or even plastic.
Since compositions are different, it goes to say that effectiveness and efficiency also varies. Mono panels are known to be the most effective kinds, with efficiencies going up to higher than 20%, poly panels can go up to 17% and thin-film panels go to 11%. Monocrystalline panels usually generate the most power due to having higher watt modules, with most panels capable of more than 400-watt capacity and some with over 500 watts. This can largely go back to the silicon being cut from a single pure crystal, while polycrystalline panels are composed of a mixture of fragments, decreasing the watt capacity and efficiency a little. However, it’s important to know that both panels are usually the same size, even though mono panels produce more electricity. Thin-film panels may have lower efficiencies per square foot, however they can come in larger sizes than mono and poly panels, hence compensating in that aspect and covering a larger area to generate the desired output.
But when talking about the size or number of panels to use, you’re obviously thinking that “bigger” and “more” might bring in additional cost. So, let’s dive into the costs of each type of panel.
Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive due to the manufacturing process from a single pure crystal, polycrystalline panels are less expensive since they use a mixture of silicones (that can sometimes include wasted silicon from the process to make mono panel crystals), which is a simpler manufacturing process. Finally, thin-film panels are the least expensive. However, depending on the material used to make the panel, will be the deciding factor of its cost.
For example, Solar panels made of CdTe are the least expensive while Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) panels can cost more (yet still cheaper than mono and poly). In addition to the cost of manufacturing, installation prices vary.
Since thin-film panels are lighter and more maneuverable, they are less labor intensive. Hence, they are cheaper to install than heavy duty mono and poly panels that can be more labor intensive due to their heavy weight constitution.
So which type of panel is best for you?
Let’s put it this way: if you’re looking to cover a small area of land and you want the most efficient panel, then monocrystalline might be your best choice.
If you would like to cover a larger area on a budget, thin-film would be a good choice, keeping in mind that you can install more panels to compensate for the lower efficiency rate while this type of panel being the least expensive, however there is still a limit to everything.
If you plan on moving your panels from one location to another due to the nature of your property or business, then it’s good to know that Thin-Film panels are easier to relocate, compared to mono and poly panels that are harder to reinstall of move around.
Finally, polycrystalline panels fall in the middle, with a mid-cost, mid-efficiency but limited to the same size aspects as mono, while being less costly for you.
In Conclusion, to get the best idea of what works best for your business or property, get a free consultation at Sun Capture through the link below.
Sun Capture is a solar energy services company in Saudi Arabia helping businesses in the GCC bridge the gap between the current rising energy demands and costs, and the coming national move towards affordable renewable energy. To learn more about how solar can help your energy needs and bring your business in line with Saudi Vision 2030, contact us today.