Let’s help you make the choice, Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline What’s Best?
When installing a solar power system for a home or business, choosing between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels is an important step in the planning process. But how do you decide which is right for you?
In this article, we’ll break down similarities and differences between the two types of solar panels, going over costs, aesthetics, efficiency and more to help you determine the best choice for your solar installation.
What are Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels?
The two most prevalent forms of solar energy receivers are monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Both rely on solar cells manufactured on silicon, the same material used in electrical device chips. The arrangement of the silicon is what distinguishes monocrystalline from polycrystalline solar cells:
- Monocrystalline solar panels: Each solar PV cell is made of a single silicon crystal. These are sometimes referred to as “mono solar panels.”
- Polycrystalline solar panels: Each PV cell is made of multiple silicon crystal fragments that are melded together during manufacturing. You may see them called “multi-crystalline panels” or “poly panels.”
Solar panels of both sorts serve the same function: they convert sunlight into power. Individual solar cells’ crystalline silicon structure, on the other hand, has an impact on their performance and appearance. In fact, you can tell what type of panel it is by looking at the form and colour of its solar cells.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are distinguished by the presence of black PV cells with rounded edges. They have a better conversion efficiency than polycrystalline panels, resulting in more kilowatt-hours produced. If you want to construct a solar panel system but have limited space, monocrystalline panels will produce more per square foot.
While they are the most efficient solar panels, they are also the most expensive, due to the more complex production process of single-crystal silicon cells.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels have PV cells that are blue in colour and have straight edges. They are less efficient than monocrystalline cells, requiring more panels to get the same power output. Polycrystalline panels, on the other hand, are less expensive since their manufacturing method is easier.
Polycrystalline panels are extremely durable, but their lifespan is slightly shorter than that of monocrystalline panels. They are also more susceptible to high temperatures, which limits their productivity on hot days.
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Key Differences
Now that you know the basics of monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels, let’s discuss how each type of solar panel technology performs. The following table summarizes the most important differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels:
|Factor||Monocrystalline Solar Panels||Polycrystalline Solar Panels|
|Silicone Arrangement||One pure silicon crystal||Many silicon fragments melded together|
|Cost||More expensive||Less expensive|
|Appearance||Panels have black hue||Panels have blue hue|
|Efficiency||More efficient||Less efficient|
|Lifespan||25-40 years||20-35 years|
|Temperature Coefficient||Lower temperature coefficient,making them more efficient in heat||Higher temperature coefficient,making them less efficient in heat|
Solar Panel Cost
The silicon structure of each solar panel is the primary determinant of cost. Polycrystalline panels are made by pouring molten silicon into square moulds and then cutting the resulting wafers into individual cells. The solidification of silicon, on the other hand, must be precisely managed in order to generate single-crystal solar cells. Mono panels are more expensive due to the more sophisticated manufacturing process.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the cost of solar panels:
- Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher cost when comparing only the panels.
- The cost of inverters, wiring, electrical protections, racking and labor is the same for both solar panel types.
- Because monocrystalline panels are more efficient, you may get a better return on your investment.
Efficiency and Temperature Coefficient
As previously stated, monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient. However, this does not imply that polycrystalline solar panels are inferior products; both types of solar panels are available in excellent quality. Here are a few more efficiency facts:
- When a solar panel has higher efficiency, it converts a larger percentage of sunlight into electricity.
- As of 2021, polycrystalline panels have typical efficiencies below 20%, while the best monocrystalline panels are approaching 23%.
- You will need more polycrystalline panels to reach a certain kilowatt-hour output per month since their efficiency is lower.
- All solar panels suffer a temporary efficiency drop when their temperature increases, but monocrystalline solar cells are less affected by heat.
The temperature coefficient represents the number of solar panels that are impacted by temperature. To ensure a fair comparison, all solar panels are factory-tested under the same Standard Test Conditions (STC).
Polycrystalline solar panels, in general, have larger temperature coefficients, which means they lose more production when heated. However, as technology advances, both types of solar panels now have low-temperature coefficients.
When you have plenty of room, the efficiency of your solar panels is unimportant. Because polycrystalline panels are less expensive, installing more to compensate for poorer efficiency is not an issue. When space is restricted, however, adding more panels is not an option, thus monocrystalline panels enhance electricity output in the existing area.
Appearance and Lifespan
The appearance of solar cells is also determined by their silicon structure, as it impacts how they interact with sunlight and how they are perceived by human vision. Monocrystalline cells are black due to their single-crystal structure, but polycrystalline cells are blue due to their multi-crystal structure.
Both types of solar panels have a long lifespan, and their payback period is often less than five years. Solar manufacturers typically provide a 25-year power production warranty, although some models also include a 30-year warranty.
Are Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline Solar Panels Best for You?
Each form of solar panel has advantages and cons, and both can provide a good return on investment. However, to make your decision easier, keep the following factors in mind while selecting the best solar panels for your home:
Do you want solar panels of a specific color? Keep in mind that monocrystalline panels are black, while polycrystalline panels are blue. If you prefer one over the other, you can buy solar panels to suit your taste.
How much space do you have for solar panels? The exact dimensions of home solar panels depend on their brand and manufacturer. The typical dimensions are 65 inches by 39 inches, equivalent to 17.6 square feet per panel, but monocrystalline panels offer more watts per square foot. Here’s a simplified example of how you can install more kilowatts in a given area by using monocrystalline panels:
- You may find that a polycrystalline panel produces 300W, while an equally-sized monocrystalline panel produces 350W.
- If you have space for 20 of them, you will reach 7 kW with the monocrystalline panels, but only 6 kW with the polycrystalline panels.
What do your budget and financing options look like? Polycrystalline solar panels are more affordable, but monocrystalline panels are more productive. If you have access to a solar loan with favorable interest rates, you can finance your solar installation and pay the loan off with the money you save on utility bills. In this case, the extra cost of monocrystalline panels is not an issue.
Also, make sure you compare several solar quotes. Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive individually, but you must also consider other system components and installation costs. There may be cases in which a completed installation with monocrystalline panels is actually cheaper, even if a single panel costs more.
FAQ: Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Which solar panel type is better: monocrystalline or polycrystalline?
Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have certain pros and cons, which means the better choice for you will depend on your specific project. Monocrystalline panels are recommended when space is limited and when you are willing to make a larger investment to achieve top efficiency. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels are recommended when you want to reduce upfront costs and space is not a limitation.
Is monocrystalline more expensive than polycrystalline?
When comparing the price of individual solar panels, monocrystalline products are more expensive. However, when comparing quotes for completed solar systems, you may find similar costs per kilowatt among both technologies. This is because, due to their high-efficiency rates, you’ll need to buy fewer mono panels overall.
What is the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels?
Polycrystalline solar panels have blue cells made of multiple silicon crystals, and they are less efficient but more affordable. Monocrystalline panels have black cells made of single crystals, and they offer higher efficiency at a higher price.
What is the price difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels?
This price difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels varies depending on the exact solar panel models being compared. However, in general, the price difference is comparable to the efficiency difference — monocrystalline panels are around 20% more efficient, but they also cost around 20% more.
You should compare quotes for complete solar power systems since they include all other system components and their installation costs.