Monocrystalline solar modules are made from many smaller solar cells, each from a single wafer of silicon, so they appear smooth and even. These solar cells use pure silicon and involve a complicated crystal growth manufacturing process. Long silicon rods are produced and sliced into 0.2 to 0.4-mm thick discs or wafers that are processed into individual cells, which are wired together in the solar panel. This makes monocrystalline the most efficient solar technology, but also the most costly. SunPower Corp. and Sanyo both produce crystalline modules with some of the highest conversion efficiencies, in excess of 20%.
is one of the oldest solar technologies. Although their extremely fragility must be taken into consideration, they are dependable (even withstanding space travel) and readily available. Monocrystalline has a minimum lifespan of 25 years but can last more than 50, making them a worthwhile long-term investment. Some early solar modules installed in the 1970s are still producing electricity, though their efficiency drops over time. However, the United States Department of Energy reports that polycrystalline sales still outnumber monocrystalline silicon sales in the U.S.
This technology is best suited for those planning long-term solar projects who want the most efficient and reliable panels. Monocrystalline’s lifespan, performance, and efficiency make them a good investment over a longer period of time. They’re also a good choice when space is an issue, such as in urban settings because their efficiency makes them the smallest solar panel per watt available. As with other solar technologies, the monocrystalline market is expected to grow with the introduction of electric cars and increased energy demand.