There are three types of 12 volt solar panels available at a reasonable cost, flexible film, monocrystalline and polycrystalline. If you are ready to make a decision on solar panels for any stationary application, the answer is going to be mono or poly. So which one is best?
The laboratory data would tell us that we should use the mono panels. But the mono panels are newer and we don’t have long term data on the mono yet. We do know from Will Prowse that the laboratory data is the opposite of the real world performance.
In 2007 there was a laptop company that decided it had to be the first company to introduce back lit lcd screens on their laptop computers. And this awesome company that has a particular piece of fruit as a logo was lauded as the most awesome and advanced companies because it brought out the newest and most awesome enhancements to its product line.
In the early 2010’s they introduced Nvidia board integrated graphics. Again they were the better product, ahead of the rest. But over the next few years the back lit lcd screens had a high level of failure, and the integrated graphics chip had a high rate of failure. The lcd panel required complete replacement, but the graphics chip could actually and often be fixed with a reball and reflow process in which hundreds of solder connections are fixed die to either bad planning, execution, or bad design or over hyping by the mother board company or the graphics chip company or a little bit of both.
So you might be thinking, these poor consumers that bought the original back lit lcd’s, but before you feel sorry for those people, thousands of these laptops were sold to people that bought them because they were the latest and coolest thing, but they couldn’t find the pipeline key with both hands even if they were sitting on it.
More thousands of these laptops were sold to people who use the living heck out of them and they will just get a new computer after a couple of years. Finally, and this is the category of tragedy, some people really needed them and bought the best at the time, only to have a lcd or graphics section die, and they still had a year or two of term papers to type, bummer.
Hopefully, those people found someone who did the job right. A lcd replacement generally cost you $200, and a reflux and reflow would cost you $150, shipping not included. Maybe you could find a better deal, but if you really want a working computer, these prices will cover the repair people that do a really good job. If you want the lowest price, good luck getting a laptop back that lasts another six months.
On the other hand, you could be one of those people that bought a really plain laptop, without the backlit lcd or the integrated dedicated graphics chip. Chances are that if you have a lot of term papers to type over the next five years, you could get a more reliable laptop computer and you will produce better term papers because you are spending less time getting your laptop fixed and more time writing term papers.
So before you decide which kind of solar panel is best, a monocrystalline or a polycrystalline, consider that between both of them, they have the lowest annual degradation in effective output per year. So silicon crystal technology is a smart pick in solar panels. As a final step, I listened to the people selling the panels, carefully measuring the level of hype for each kind of solar panel, and I found the monocrystalline panels are by far way cooler than poly panels. They are more expensive, sure, but it is like buying a Cadillac. The salesmen will tell you, spend spend spend !!!
Don’t. Do not waste your money on more expensive panels right now. Do now waste your money on more expensive panels in 2020, or the year 2021. The time to buy monocrystalline will be when they are less expensive, not when the hype is thicker and smellier. Period. If you are being pushed to buy monocrystalline because they are ‘better,’ run, you are getting sold a pig in a poke. No honest seller of solar panels would promise better results from mono. The very best results you can get from solar panels is achieved by minimizing the cost of the entire operation. The chances of solar paying for itself are such that your best odds come from being careful not to wager too much.
Buy polycrystalline solar panels. They are simply the best performance. They may be a little larger, but unless you are the last tiny house bungalow in Manhattan, use more space and buy poly. It is the best economic choice for buying solar panels. Period.