Buy Monocrystalline Cells
The solar cell is the backbone of a homemade solar panel. The most common types are polycrystalline solar cells and monocrystalline solar cells. This page is all about monocrystalline solar cells. For more information on polycrystalline solar cells click here.
Monocrystalline solar cells are much like polycrystalline cells in that they are essentially wafers cut from blocks of silicon. Unlike the polycrystalline cells, however, the monocrystalline cells are cut from a single crystal, essentially a slice of crystal. They are of the same thickness as the polycrystalline cells and are similarly rigid. They are not flexible and cannot be bent without breaking them and must be mounted within a rigid frame to deter from cracking and fracturing. Monocrystalline solar cells are gaining in popularity and many more panels are now available.
Monocrystalline solar cells are the most expensive of the three types discussed to produce and purchase. As you might expect, however, they are the most efficient cells being used in large quantities today. Today’s monocrystalline cells are roughly 14-17% efficient. You will know you have a monocrystalline solar cell if it is a rigid, paper thin wafer with a smooth looking texture with no noticeable marble effect.
For me, I like to shop for my solar cells online. They are pretty tough to come by in your local hardware store, in fact, I have never seen them. My favorite place to get monocrystalline solar cells online is as Amazon.com. I find that no matter what happens either in shipment or to the order, Amazon takes care of you. It gives me a little extra piece of mind to know that with Amazon, my order will be coming or they will fix it. It also gives me piece of mind in knowing that if something goes wrong in shipping, Amazon has my back. That can be a pretty big deal when you are dealing with something as fragile as solar cells.
I do run into times that Amazon doesn’t have everything that I am looking for. For times like that I found AliExpress by Alibaba.com. This is a great little spot that has a huge number of options when it comes to building homemade solar panels from a wide variety of vendors. The only drawback is that they ship directly from the manufacturers which are generally overseas so the shipping time can be longer than you might hope for. The nice thing though is that they have EVERYTHING.
When buying solar cells be aware of what you are buying. Some sellers will list cracked or broken cells at a price that seems too good to be true. I always recommend buying the A or B grade cells myself. While you can use cracked and broken cells, they will have an impact on the power production capacity of your panels and is that really something you want to skimp a few bucks on?