Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels – What’s the Difference?

Converting energy from the sun into electricity is a great way to increase your savings. The primary function of solar panels is to help you achieve this. Solar panels made using crystalline silicon are the most common for homes. If you are planning to buy a crystalline silicon solar panel, it would be wise to know the difference between the two types that exist. This will help you make a well-informed decision.  

The difference arises from the technology that they incorporate. They use silicone cell technology. Monocrystalline solar panels as the name suggest are made using a single crystal of silicon. Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are made using multiple silicone fragments that are then melted together. Here is more information about monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels to help you select the solar panel that’s best suited for your home.

How do Solar panels work?

Before breaking down the bits of monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels, it would be great to know how solar panels work. Solar panels allow photons which are also referred to as particles of light to knock out electrons from atoms. This results in electricity flow. Solar panels typically compromise multiple smaller units that are known as photovoltaic cells. These photovoltaic cells are what join together to form a solar panel. When two slices of silicon are sandwiched, the result is a photovoltaic cell. 

However, for the solar panel to start working, there is a need to create an electric field. To achieve this, manufacturers usually introduce a different material such as phosphorus. The photovoltaic cell will then develop a positive charge or a negative area. Both charges then work hand in hand to form an electric field. To complete the process, the manufacturer then fits conducive metal panels at the sides and connects them to wires so that they can quickly collect electrons. 

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are the oldest types of solar panels. They are premium solar products. This is because they showcase an elegant design together with remarkably high efficiency. Manufacturers design this type of solar panels using a single crystalline structure. The silicone is molded into bars after which it’s cut into wafers. The silicone cells appear to have rounded edges and have a flat looking color. Their single crystal structure of these types of solar panels gives electrons enough space to flow. This is the main reason why monocrystalline silicon solar panels are highly efficient compared to polycrystalline options.

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are also referred to as multi-crystalline solar panels. They are less efficient compared to monocrystalline counterparts. What gives them an advantage is that they come at a reasonably lower price, which makes them an ideal option for many homeowners. You can easily differentiate them from monocrystalline solar panels since they appear to have a unique blue color hue. They are also created using silicone. Manufacturers instead use multiple silicone fragments to develop them. The pieces are melted together to form wafers making the panel. Since there are numerous fragments within every cell, there is minimal room for electrons to move freely. This makes them less efficient when compared to monocrystalline solar panels. Manufacturers are, however, still working on advancing these models to make them work as efficient as monocrystalline types.

Feature Differences between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels

  • Cost 

The cost of manufacturing monocrystalline solar panels is relatively very high, making them costly compared to polycrystalline solutions. The reason is that they are more efficient. Below is a more precise breakdown of how their efficiency comes about so you can better understand the reason for their high pricing. 

  • Efficiency

As mentioned earlier in this article, monocrystalline solar panels generally tend to be more efficient in terms of performance as compared to polycrystalline options. Monocrystalline silicon panels produce about 190W per one square meter. On the other side, polycrystalline silicon solar panels generate a lower efficiency of 180W per square meter. Monocrystalline solar panels tend to take up less space since they do not have to cover the energy output. Monocrystalline solar panels also cost less to install.

  • Temperature tolerance

Another measure of performance is through temperature tolerance. Typically monocrystalline solar panels are better at tolerating temperature as well as light conditions compared to crystalline options. This means in hotter climates; polycrystalline silicon solar panels have a lower lifespan.

  • Aesthetics

Monocrystalline solar panels are more aesthetically appealing compared to polycrystalline options. They are black. Polycrystalline options feature a dark blue hue. Nonetheless, the color of polycrystalline silicon solar panels has changed over the years, and they nowadays tend to look much darker.

Pros of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

  • The first benefit of monocrystalline solar panels is that they have higher efficiency rates since they are made from first-class silicone.
  • Since they are made using first-class silicone, they are also highly durable and incredibly reliable.
  • They are more space-efficient.
  • They have higher heat tolerance making them ideal for hotter climates. The heat will not reduce their lifespan. 
  • They yield higher electricity outputs compared to polycrystalline solar panels.
  • They have a better appearance compared to polycrystalline options.

Cons of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

  • They are currently the most expensive type of solar model.
  • When they get covered in dirt or debris, they may end up breaking down. To prevent this, you can fix a micro-inverter though this means an increase in the installation costs.
  • They may not function well in extremely lower temperatures.
  • A lot of silicon goes into the production of these types of solar panels, and most of it goes to waste.

Pros of polycrystalline solar panels

  • They are less expensive, making them an excellent choice for customers with a low budget.
  • Not as much silicone goes to waste during their manufacture.
  • You can easily find them in the market.

Cons of polycrystalline solar panels

  • They have lesser energy efficiency compared to monocrystalline solar panels. The energy efficiency is about 13%-16% because they are made of less pure silicone. 
  • They do not have a great appearance due to their thick construction
  • Polycrystalline silicon solar panels offer lesser efficiency when it comes to space. You will require more space for generating the same amount of energy that you could obtain from a monocrystalline silicon solar panel.
  • They are less heat tolerant. This means that they would not last as long in hotter climates.

Conclusion

You will surely save lots of money off your electricity bill when you install either monocrystalline solar panels or polycrystalline silicon solar panels. The option that you select will be determined by your personal preference, space constraints, and budget. In terms of personal preference, you will have to look at the color. If you don’t mind much about the appearance of the solar panel, then polycrystalline options will be ideal for you; they have a dark blue hue. Monocrystalline solutions are dark and look much better in terms of appearance. If you have space constraints, you should go for higher efficiency options. Monocrystalline solar panels consume little roof space at the same time offering higher levels of electricity output. If your budget is too strained, then a polycrystalline model would do the trick for you. 

Max Peters

Hi! I'm Max and I am passionate about off-grid solar technology and adventure! I'm using my knowledge of solar generators, solar panels, and everything in between to provide you with the best tools to keep you powered while off the grid. Read more about me here: About Max Peters."

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