There are three main solar panels that are sold commercially.
- Polycrsytalline Panels (also known as multicrystalline)
- Amorphous or Thin Film panels
Polycrsytalline Panels (also known as multicrystalline)
Polycrystalline panels are made up from the silicon offcuts, moulded to form blocks and create a cell made up of several bits of pure crystal. Because the individual crystals are not necessarily all perfectly aligned together and there are losses at the joints between them, they are not quite as efficient. However, this mis-alignment can help in some circumstances, because the cells work better from light at all angles, in low light, etc. For this reason, I would argue that polycrystalline is slightly better suited to the UK’s duller conditions, but the difference is marginal.
The appearance is also different – you can see the random crystal arrangement and the panels look a little bluer as they reflect some of the light.
Since they are cut into rectangular blocks, there is very little wasted space on the panel and you do not see the little diamonds that are typical of mono or hybrid panels. Some people prefer this more uniform appearance, others like the diamonds. The choice is yours because the overall size and cost is very similar to monocrystalline.
The solar cells in monocrystalline panels are slices cut from pure drawn crystalline silicon bars. The entire cell is aligned in one direction, which means that when the sun is shining brightly on them at the correct angle, they are extremely efficient. So, these panels work best in bright sunshine with the sun shining directly on them. They have a uniform blacker colour because they are absorbing most of the light.
Pure cells are octagonal, so there is unused space in the corners when lots of cells are made into a solar module. Mono mono panels are slightly smaller than poly panels for the same power, but this is only really noticeable on industrial scale installations where you may be able to fit a higher overall power with monocrystalline.
Amorphous or Thin Film panels
A thin-film solar cell (TFSC), also called a thin-film photovoltaic cell (TFPV), is a solar cell that is made by depositing one or more thin layers (thin film) of photovoltaic material on a substrate. Film thickness varies from a few nanometers to tens of micrometers.
Thin film solar panels are commercially available for installation onto the roofs of buildings, either applied onto the finished roof, or integrated into the roof covering. Advantages over traditional PV panels include lower weight, wind resistance and (limited) resistance to foot traffic. Disadvantages include increased cost and reduced efficiency.Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) uses semi-transparent thin film cells that can be applied as window glazing. These cells act as window tinting while also generating electricity.
|Typical module efficiency||15-20%||13-16%||6-8%||9-11%||10-12%|
|Best research cell efficiency||25.0%||20.4%||13.4%||18.7%||20.4%|
|Area required for 1 kWp||6-9 m2||8-9 m2||13-20 m2||11-13 m2||9-11 m2|
|Typical length of warranty||25 years||25 years||10-25 years|
|Temperature resistance||Performance drops 10-15% at high temperatures||Less temperature resistant than monocrystalline||Tolerates extreme heat||Relatively low impact on performance|
|Additional details||Oldest cell technology and most widely used||Less silicon waste in the production process||Tend to degrade faster than crystalline-based solar panels|
|Low availability on the market|
click this Link to this film panel history on Wikipedia