The difference between 60 cell and 72 cell solar panels comes down to their size: since 72 cell modules have 12 more cells, they are thus larger by about a foot. Traditionally 72 cell panels are used for commercial, while 60 cell modules are used for residential projects, but we see many residential projects with 72 cell modules, so don’t let that be the primary deciding factor.
Why are 60 cell PV modules traditionally used for residential projects instead of 72 cell?
The question is somewhat flawed. It’s more along the lines that 72 cell modules are typically used for commercial, rather than 60 cell modules. Commercial systems are usually ground mount, and space is not an issue as it is with a residential roof, thus the deciding factor is primarily getting the highest wattage possible for such systems.
However, it is true that the size of 60 cell PV modules makes them easier to install for residential projects. 72 cell solar panels are bigger and heavier, making them slightly trickier to put up versus 60 cell PV modules.
Take for example the Peimar 300W 60 Cell Model SG300M vs the Peimar 325W 72 Cell Model SG325P:
Peimar 300W 60 Cell Model SG300M
Peimar 325W 72 Cell Model SG325P
The additional 12 cells add about an extra foot to the solar panel, in this case making the panel 6.41 feet high, versus 5.38 feet. This increase in size makes them trickier to install if you’re attempting to install them all by yourself as a lone installer. However, if you are working with at least one other individual, the size doesn’t pose that much of a difficulty.
Should I install 60 or 72 cell PV modules?
The two factors that should go into your decision on the panel size are your roof size and cost-effectiveness.
If your roof has limited space, and the decision comes down to either a row of 72 cell vs 2 rows of 60 cell modules, whichever option will provide more wattage is the better option.
The second factor is cost-effectiveness. The best way to compare pricing is by cost per watt.
Say the Peimar 300W 60 cell modules cost $0.68/W and the Peimar 325W 72 cell modules cost $0.60/W. Thus the 72 cell Peimar modules would be the better value, all other factors considered.
Closing thoughts on microinverters:
Deciding between 60 cell and 72 cell modules comes down to if their size fits your roof needs, what type will maximize your energy needs, and what is the more cost-effective option.
The last factor to consider is if you are planning on using micro inverters or a string inverter. If you want to use micro-inverters, then you just need to make sure to get micro inverters that are compatible with 72 cell solar panels, such as the Enphase IQ6+ or the Enphase IQ7+ micro inverters.
Take advantage of the Solar Kit Guide to calculate exactly what will work with the solar panels you choose.