While there are alternatives, silicon PV cells have become the industry standard for high-performance, reliable solar panels. Not all silicon solar cells are created equal, however. Let’s explore the three most common types of silicon PV cells.
Monocrystalline silicon cells are created out of a single silicon block in wafer formats. The cells are cut into individual wafers that are then affixed to a solar panel. While monocrystalline cells are the most efficient, they require more work to create, so they’re generally more expensive. At the same time, they provide a sleek black finish that looks good if you’re installing panels in plain sight.
Rather than being formed out of a single block of silicon, polycrystalline cells are created by melting several silicon crystals. These cells are then fused together onto a solar panel. While they’re less efficient than monocrystalline cells, they’re more affordable and have a dark blue tint.
Amorphous silicon cells are used in flexible solar panels as a thin film. Attached to a substrate such as glass, plastic, or metal, amorphous cells are ideal for applications that require something other than a rigid panel.