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Solar Installations

ABOUT PHOTOVOLTAIC PRODUCTS

About Photovoltaic Products

Polycrystalline Solar Cells

The first solar panels based on polycrystalline silicon, which also is known as polysilicon (p-Si) and multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si), were introduced to the market in 1981. Unlike monocrystalline-based solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels do not require the Czochralski process. Raw silicon is melted and poured into a square mold, which is cooled and cut into perfectly square wafers.

Advantages

The process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and cost less. The amount of waste silicon is less compared to monocrystalline.
Polycrystalline solar panels tend to have slightly lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar panels. This technically means that they perform slightly worse than monocrystalline solar panels in high temperatures. Heat can affect the performance of solar panels and shorten their lifespans. However, this effect is minor, and most homeowners do not need to take it into account.

Disadvantages

The efficiency of polycrystalline-based solar panels is typically 13-16%. Because of lower silicon purity, polycrystalline solar panels are not quite as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels.
Lower space-efficiency. You generally need to cover a larger surface to output the same electrical power as you would with a solar panel made of monocrystalline silicon. However, this does not mean every monocrystalline solar panel performs better than those based on polycrystalline

Monocrystalline Solar Cells

Monocrystalline solar cells are made out of silicon ingots, which are cylindrical in shape. To optimize performance and lower costs of a single monocrystalline solar cell, four sides are cut out of the cylindrical ingots to make silicon wafers, which is what gives monocrystalline solar panels their characteristic look.

A good way to separate mono and polycrystalline solar panels is that polycrystalline solar cells look perfectly rectangular with no rounded edges.

Advantages

Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates since they are made out of the highest-grade silicon. The efficiency rates of monocrystalline solar panels are typically 15-20%. SunPower produces the highest efficiency solar panels on the U.S. market today. Their E20 series provide panel conversion efficiencies of up to 20.1%.[3] Update (April, 2013): SunPower has now released the X-series at a record-breaking efficiency of 21.5%. [7] Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are space-efficient. Since these solar panels yield the highest power outputs, they also require the least amount of space compared to any other types. Monocrystalline solar panels produce up to four times the amount of electricity as thin-film solar panels.
Monocrystalline solar panels have a longer life span. Most solar panel manufacturers put a 25-year warranty on their monocrystalline solar panels.
Tend to perform better than similarly rated polycrystalline solar panels at low-light conditions.
The efficiency of individual panels is higher than other panels.

Disadvantages

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive. From a financial standpoint, a solar panel that is made of polycrystalline silicon (and in some cases thin-film) can be a better choice for some homeowners.
If the solar panel is partially covered with shade and dirt, the entire circuit can break down. Consider getting micro-inverters instead of central string inverters if you think coverage will be a problem. Micro-inverters will make sure that not the entire solar array is affected by shading issues with only one of the solar panels.
The Czochralski process is used to produce monocrystalline silicon. It results in large cylindrical ingots. Four sides are cut out of the ingots to make silicon wafers. A significant amount of the original silicon ends up as waste.
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in warm weather. Performance suffers as temperature goes up, but less so than polycrystalline solar panels. For most homeowners temperature is not a concern.
This article is solely about different types of solar panels. If you want to learn about what other equipment a photovoltaic system consists of, go to Grid-Tied, Off-Grid and Hybrid Solar Systems.

Mounting Systems

Pitched Roofs
Generally an aluminium rail system is used with some form of fixing to the roof structure, this fixing would depend on what type of roof covering you have i.e.: Slate, cement tiles, metal roofing or cement fibre. Aluminium is generally used because of its strength to weight ratio.

Flat Roofs
Galvanised steel or Aluminium rail systems are used to create flat roof structures which hold the panels in place, the structure is either mechanically fixed to the roof or it is weighted down with concrete blocks.

Free standing units
Free standing units tend to be galvanised structures with the panels mounted on them, the size and design would largely depend on the project size.

Installation Process

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