60-cell vs 72-cell Solar Panels

When comparing quotes for your solar PV system, it’s important to know whether the panels being proposed are 60-cell or 72-cell, and the differences between them.

60-cell panels are meant for residential applications, whereas 72-cell panels are more common for commercial or other large-scale projects; except in Nova Scotia where many installers use 72-cell panels for residential installations.

It sounds like a really powerful panel

A solar installer might tout 400W panels as a really powerful product, but in terms of generation per square foot the 400W 72-cell is equivalent to a 335 watt 60-cell panel – which is below average technology in 2021. It’s always worth checking whether they are 60-cell or 72-cell, particularly if they sound more powerful than panels other installers are quoting.

72-cell solar panels have more photovoltaic cells; therefore, they are larger than 60-cell panels which are six cells wide and ten cells tall. 72 cell panels are also six cells wide, but have an additional two rows of cells that make them taller. 60-cell solar panels have an average dimension of roughly 5.5 ft by 3.3 ft. 72-cell panels are about the same width, and average around 6.6 ft in height.

If you have fewer panels, but they are larger in dimension, and shading is a problem at all, you will end up losing more power to shading with 72-cell panels than with 60-cell. We did a test on shading that shows its impact on solar panels, which you can read about here: How does shade affect solar panels?

We think looks matter – a lot

The other thing we take into consideration is the look of the panel. The 72-cell panels tend to have a large aluminum frame, whereas the 60-cell panels we use are a sleeker, more modern looking design – which fits with our aim of providing the most aesthetically pleasing installations in Nova Scotia.

60 cell solar panels on rooftop
60-cell panels look modern and sleek
72-cell solar panels on rooftop
72-cell panels stand out, and not always in a good way

This extra space can make a big difference when it comes to your solar system design if you have limited space for installation or a more complicated layout (such as a lone panel on a dormer, or a small garage to fit a few panels). Because they’re smaller, 60-cell panels will be able to fit in more tight spaces that may not work for a 72-cell panel.

If you are really strapped for available space and your goal is to maximize your solar power potential, choosing an ultra premium 60-cell solar panel will help maximize the solar power potential and number of panels you can install. 

Introducing ultra premium 60-cell panels

We have available now the most energy-dense panel on the market, our new 400watt 60-cell LG panels, and we’re the only ones in Nova Scotia (and possibly in Canada) that have them. They also have a higher efficiency rating and a lower degradation rate than any other panel currently on the market.

Solar PV System with 400w solar panels
The first system built with ultra premium 400w 60 cell LG panels. What a beauty!

Area Vs Efficiency

Efficiency does make a big difference in the amount of roof area required. Higher efficiency panels generate more energy per square meter and thus require less overall area. This is perfect for rooftops with limited space and can also allow larger capacity systems to fit on almost any roof.

The bottom line is usually about money

There’s no question that systems with 72-cell panels can be built more cheaply. They require less racking and fewer microinverters (if that’s the inversion system being used) but many of the brands have a 25 year generation warranty of between 80-85%. The LG panels we use have a 25 year generation warranty of over 90%, and a 25 year product warranty as well (most other brands are 10-12 years). So there’s a bit of “you get what you pay for” here.

As the Lexus of the solar industry in Nova Scotia, it’s very important to us that we can provide the best quality hardware and the most aesthetically pleasing systems on offer. You’re going to be looking at it for 25 years – or more – and we want it to look good AND be built to last!

Amanda Brulé

Amanda is VP Sales & Residential Projects at SKYLIT.