P-Type vs N-Type Solar Panel: What Are the Differences?

p type vs n type solar panels

You may have come across the terms ‘N-type’ and ‘P-type’ solar cells in your research. What does this mean? What is the difference in power output, cost, and efficiency of these two types? Before discussing these factors, let’s have an understanding of solar cells structure and the energy production through solar cells.

Key Takeaways

  • The solar panels life cycle is between 20-25 years.
  • Climate, weather, quality, brand type and installer company are the possible factors that are responsible for any degradation in the solar system before time. Moreover, sometimes solar systems stop working due to a fault in the various parts such as batteries or inverters.
  • Proper cleaning, on-time maintenance can increase the life cycle of solar systems.

What is a Solar Cell and types of Solar Cells

Solar cells are essentially a crystalline silicon wafer with other materials added for electricity production. There are two main types of solar cells.

P-type Cells

These cells have a silicone base with boron atoms infused to create an overall positive charge (hence ‘P’ type). The top silicone layer of the wafer is infused with phosphorus (N-type) to create a p-n junction for electricity flow. P-type cells are the most common type used in solar panel production. 

N-Type Cells

These are basically the opposite formation of the P-type cell. They have a silicon base infused with phosphorus creating an overall negative charge. The top layer of N-type silicon cells is infused with boron (P-type) for the p-n junction formation. 

Structure of Solar Panels and the Generation of Solar Power

Solar cells have many layers of semiconductors. These rays are positively and negativel;y charged.

The sun has many photons in its rays. When these photons collide with the solar panel surface, the negative layer of the solar cells absorb these photons.. Absorption is only in the opposing layer because photons are enriched with a positive charge.

After absorption by the negative layer, the atomic cell of the solar panel gets charged due to the transfer of energy from photons to the nuclear cell.

Due to this energy shift, electrons of the atom escape its outermost shell and move towards the positive layer of the cell, ultimately creating a potential difference between the positive and the negative layer of the cell.

These two layers are connected with the outer wiring of the solar system; hence, the movement of electrons in the circuit generates current, which is the end product of the solar system.

Difference Between N-type and
P-type Panels

difference p type and n type solar

N-Type Features

P-Type Features

N stands for the negative electronsP stands for the positive holes
monocrystalline silicon are the primary structural unitmonocrystalline or polycrystalline are the basic structural unit
Have additional layer of phosphorus and ArsenicHave additional layer of Boron
Have extra electrons thats why negatively chargedHave extra holes that why positively charged 

Why do P-type Cells Dominate in Solar Panel Production?

The first solar cell, created in 1954, was in fact an N-type cell. Solar technology was originally developed for use in space, where P-type cells were found to be more tolerant to radiation damage.Over the years, more research was invested into P-type cells.

When the commercial/residential solar industry developed, P-type panels dominated due to extensive information already available on the technology. N-types did not have the same investment put into its research. Moreover, the solar panels were cost effective that’s why they were highly used in the solar industry.

Comprehensive Comparison of P-type and N-type

P-type and N-type solar cells are different in various aspects. Both of them are usable in many industries but they differ in basic functions such as working efficiency, degradation percentage, temperature sustainability and the price range. We need to understand the main difference between these paneles before deciding which is the best one for a solar system. So, let’s have a comprehensive analysis for both types of cells.

Working Efficiency

N-type panels have higher working efficiency than p-type panels. This panel reduces the energy loss, improves the charge carrier mobility and maximizes the production.

Light-Induced Degradation

N-type panels are less susceptible to light-induced degradation. The LID degradation occurs in the solar cells right after the installation. A decreased percentage of this degradation in N-panels indicates that they are more stable and durable with a long life cycle.

Temperature Effect

Both N and p types are susceptible to high temperatures. This means that the degradation process occurs in both cells when they are exposed to the temperature. However, N types have more power to resist temperature changes and are more appropriate for high-temperature regions.

Price Difference

Initially, P-type cells were the most used due to their low cost, but over time, the economic conditions have equaled the prices for both types. However, N-type cells have more advantages, so investing in N-type panels in the long run is worth it.

Summarizing the Pros and Cons of Using P-type Panels

As we have explored the difference in the structure, features, price, temperature sustainability, light-induced degradation and working efficiency of the both panels. Let’s summarize the pros and cons of using these panels.

Advantages:

P-type panels are the most common type available for purchase. They are more cost competitive than N-type panels and they have held the largest extent of the market for the last 40 years. 

Disadvantages:

P-type panels include the boron-oxygen defect. When the cells are formed, a significant concentration of dissolved oxygen presents and forms a recombination area with the boron (under light exposure). This event is called ‘light induced degradation’ and it reduces the efficiency of the cell.

P-type cells are also more prone to metallic impurities such as interstitial iron, these impurities can lower the lifetime of the cell.

Pros And Cons of N-Type Cells

N-type cells have many advantages, they are resistant to light induced degradation due to the presence of phosphorus instead of boron within the silicon. This immunity leads to a longer carrier lifetime of the cell and a more efficient, powerful system. 

N-type cells are also less prone to metallic impurities that affect P-type cells and have a higher temperature tolerance.

The main disadvantage of N-type panels would be cost. Since N-types come with longer carrier-life and higher efficiency, they are expensive to purchase. Many premium panel brands such as LG Solar, SunPower, and Jinko offer N-type panels for much higher price than P-type.

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Growing Popularity of The N-type Panels (Future Prospective)

Both panels are widely used in residential and commercial projects, but the need to produce more energy and users’ demand for a quality and long-lasting solar system has compelled the manufacturer to use N-type panels. N-type panels are used in fields where sustainability is more demanding than the initial cost. There are fields where N-type panels dominate and have significant future aspects to eliminate the p-type panels. These panels are used in utility and large-scale commercial projects requiring excessive energy production.

Moreover, advancements in the technological field, such as bifacial N-type cells and passivated emitter and rear cell technology (PERC), have created innovations in researchers’ minds that allow them to get maximum output from solar energy. The researchers, manufacturers, and solar industry tycoons are collaborating to produce more efficient and user-friendly solar panels using N-type cells.

What Should I Choose?

P type panels were most common in the initial days of solar system due to their lower cost but now both types of cells have equal prices with a little bit difference. The greater purity of the N-type silicon allows for higher efficiency, less degradation over time and lower energy losses.

This leads to more power generation and higher performance over the panel’s lifetime, outweighing the extra upfront cost when purchasing. So, choosing N-type cells would be a great decision in the long run.

You May Also Read: How Can Solar Energy Save The Environment?

Frequently Asked Questions

One layer of the P-type cells are negatively charged. The top layer of the p-type cells are positively charged. The negatively charged layer is doped in born while the positively charged layer is doped in phosphorus.The basic structure of the cells are monocrystalline or polycrystalline. They are cost effective.

The N type cells are made up of the monocrystalline structural units. They are doped in phosphorus or arsenic. They have higher prices but with long life cycles.

N type cells are considered more effective due to various factors such as N type cells have resistance against degradation caused by LID while P type cells efficiency decreases 10% due to LID light. N type cells have 20 years product warranty while P type cells have 12 years product warranty. N type cells have 30 years warranty for the power degradation while P type have 25 years warranty. So, looking at all these features, we can say that N types are a bit costly but are more efficient in working and resistant to degradation.

Solar cells have many layers of semiconductors. These rays are positively and negativel;y charged. The sun has many photons in its rays.When these photons collide with the solar panel surface, the negative layer of the solar cells absorb these photons.. Absorption is only in the opposing layer because photons are enriched with a positive charge. After absorption by the negative layer, the atomic cell of the solar panel gets charged due to the transfer of energy from photons to the nuclear cell. Due to this energy shift, electrons of the atom escape its outermost shell and move towards the positive layer of the cell, ultimately creating a potential difference between the positive and the negative layer of the cell. These two layers are connected with the outer wiring of the solar system; hence, the movement of electrons in the circuit generates current, which is the end product of the solar system.

Jackson Brown

I am Jackson Brown. I am a lecturer turned solar expert, I am fond of traveling and a good chef.