Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline: What Are The Differences?


Are you toying with the idea of installing solar panels on your roof? Maybe you want to minimize your electricity bills, reduce your carbon footprint, or contribute positively to the environment. 

Regardless of your intentions, knowing what solar panels are and the different types in the market can help you get the most out of your investment.

Solar panels are electronic equipment that taps into solar radiation to generate electricity or heat. And photovoltaic solar panels are categorized into monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels.

So, monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline, what are the differences? The primary difference between the two is in the crystal purity of the panel cells. Monocrystalline solar panels contain solar cells made from a single crystal of silicon, whereas polycrystalline solar panels include solar cells made from several fragments of silicon melted together.

The ones that produce heat are called thermal panels, while panels that generate electricity are called photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. The latter are more popular because they have a dual purpose: generating electricity and heating. 

Do you want to know the difference between these two types of solar panels? Keep reading to discover. 

If you are interested in exploring the Average Cost of Installing Solar panels, I encourage you to read this article I wrote.

What Is a Solar Panel?

Solar technologies transform sunlight into electrical energy through photovoltaic (PV) panels or mirrors concentrating solar radiation. Did you know that the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is sufficient to satisfy the entire world’s energy consumption for a whole year? (Source: U.S Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy).

Two main kinds of solar panels are thermal and photovoltaic.

  • Thermal solar panels absorb the sun’s heat to produce heat.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels catch energy from the sun and transform it into electricity.

Photovoltaic solar panels are the preferred type of solar panel for residential use. Even though they are generally less efficient than solar thermal panels, they are a better choice for residential use as they do not require large facilities.

The PV solar panels are categorized into monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

The solar cells can be polycrystalline or monocrystalline.

Are Monocrystalline Solar Panels?

The mono panels are built with monocrystalline solar cells. Every cell form part of a single crystal of silicon grown to create solar panels. The crystal is grown to form a single pure ingot, which is a cylindrical log shape cell. The ingot is then cut into thin discs, with each disc cut on the edges to form octagons

The octagon shape means you can fit many solar cells in the solar panel array. The monocrystalline cells fit together to form a single crystal. 

They have a distinctive black color with an efficiency range between 15 to 20%. 

Pros and Cons Of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

The table below contains the pros and cons of monocrystalline solar panels.

ProsCons
– Highly efficient at generating energy
– Monocrystalline solar panels require less space
– Monocrystalline solar panels have better heat tolerance
– Monocrystalline solar panels are relatively more expensive
– Monocrystalline solar panels are considered to be a less sustainable production methods
The Table Displays The Pros and Cons Of Monocrystalline Solar Panels – solarixis.com.
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline: What Are The Differences?
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline: What Are The Differences? – solarixis.com

What Are Polycrystalline Solar Panels?

The word “poly” signifies many, which means these solar panels are made of several polycrystalline solar cells. Unlike monocrystalline solar panels with a single pure ingot, polycrystalline has several silicon crystal fragments. Once the crystal fragments are melted in an oven to form cubes, they are cut to create thin wafers. Instead of forming a single crystal, different crystals form an amalgam. 

They are easier to produce and less expensive than monocrystalline cells. Polycrystalline solar cells are blue-colored squares that neatly fit side by side on the solar panel, thus eliminating any spaces between cells. 

However, they operate less efficiently because the melted fragments inhibit the free movement of electrons. They have a general efficiency rating between 13 and 16%. 

Pros and Cons Of Polycrystalline Solar Panels 

The table below shows the pros and cons of polycrystalline solar panels:

ProsCons
– Polycrystalline solar panels are relatively less expensive than monocrystalline solar panels.
– They have the same durability and longevity compared to monocrystalline panels, even though they cost less.
– Polycrystalline solar panel cells are generally larger than their monocrystalline, meaning that the panels may require more space to generate the same amount of electricity (Source)
– Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient at producing energy
– Polycrystalline solar panels have also less heat tolerance
The Table Below Shows The Pros And Cons Of Polycrystalline Solar Panels – solarixis.com.
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline: What Are The Differences?
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline: What Are The Differences? – solarixis.com

What Are The Differences Between Monocrystalline Solar Panels And Polycrystalline Solar Panels?

The difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline technologies is the purity of the solar panel cells. Monocrystalline solar panels have cells made from a single silicon crystal, but polycrystalline solar panels are formed from melted silicon.

In addition, monocrystalline solar cells are considered premium panels because they harness the sunlight more effectively. However, if you are on a budget and live in an area with high sunlight, polycrystalline panels are a good choice as they are also less expensive.

Therefore, monocrystalline solar panels have a higher crystalline purity than polycrystalline solar panels. Monocrystalline cells are octagonal and black, while polycrystalline cells are squared and blue. 

Here are other additional differences between monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels.

1- Difference In Performance

How do you know a solar panel’s performance? Solar panel efficiency is the ratio between energy it collects to the amount it emits. For instance, a solar panel with 20% efficiency transforms 20% of solar energy into electricity while the remaining 80% is converted into heat. This means that the higher efficiency of a solar panel, the better. 

Since monocrystalline solar panels have higher efficiency than polycrystalline solar panels, they perform better. Monocrystalline solar cells perform better because they have a single crystal instead of several crystals, thus increasing their spectral response

Monocrystalline solar panels’ characteristics enhance their efficiency, which varies between 16% and 24%. Polycrystalline solar panels’ efficiency ranges from 14 to 20%. Although this may look like a small margin, if you consider many panels, the effects are compounded, thus making the difference.  

Therefore, monocrystalline solar panels are suitable for homeowners with limited space. 

Furthermore, monocrystalline solar panels’ crystal purity cells enhance energy production, starting early and ending later in the day. This means that monocrystalline solar panels produce energy longer than polycrystalline solar panels.

2- The Difference In Service Life

Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have efficiency and physical warranties. Generally, their physical warranty covers 15 to 30 years from physical damage, while their efficiency warranty covers 20 to 30 years. 

Depending on manufacturers, some solar panels have an 80% efficiency warranty for a stipulated period, meaning that the solar panels will generate 80% electricity during that period. 

After the warranty period, they may reduce energy production but still works well. Since different manufacturers offer different warranty durations, you can choose the manufacturer with the best deal. 

3- Difference In Aesthetics

Monocrystalline solar panels are black, meaning they can easily blend with your house’s roof. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels are blue-colored, making them conspicuous. 

However, this aspect does not affect their performance or operation. Remember that most solar panels have a 25-year warranty, so make the right choice because 25 years is not a short time!

4- The Difference In Price

Since monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels, they are more expensive. Their manufacturing process is also complex and energy-consuming, which is compensated by their high prices.

Generally, polycrystalline solar panels cost between $0.4 and $0.5 per watt, while the monocrystalline range from $0.5 to $0.8. Although monocrystalline solar panels may appear expansive, they produce more energy and are more beautiful. 

With a lifespan ranging from 25 to 40 years, you can recover additional costs on monocrystalline panels. 

See also: What Is The Average Of Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels?

5- Ecological Footprint

Polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels are made using silicon. Silicon is a conductive material that enables solar panels’ PV cells to produce electricity from solar radiation. Silicon comes from silica, a compound found in the earth’s crust. 

After extraction, the silica undergoes refining to form silicon. The silicon is then crystallized to form ingots sliced into thin strips called wafers. The process of obtaining silicon negatively affects the environment, contributing to pollution. This process also consumes lots of energy.

Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher ecological footprint than polycrystalline. However, their efficacy will compensate for the ecological footprint. 

6- Temperature Coefficient

Monocrystalline solar panels outperform polycrystalline models in this area as well. The solar panel’s temperature co-efficient measures its performance during warm temperatures.

A percentage closer to zero shows the panel is performing better. Statistics show that monocrystalline solar panels remain cool at high temperatures than polycrystalline panels. 

You might also enjoy reading: Solar Panel Size Needed To Charge a 100ah Battery.

Polycrystalline Vs. Monocrystalline Solar Panels: Which One Is Right For You?

One reason for shifting to solar, regardless of the panel type, is to save money on electricity bills. However, your choice will largely depend on space constraints, personal preference, and financing options. Let’s discuss these determinants.

Personal preferencesIf you are impressed by the black color on your roof, you can opt for monocrystalline, but if you want bright blue, polycrystalline panels could be the ideal choice. But if you care a lot about where a panel is manufactured, you can research to ensure you know the company that makes your preferred mono or poly panels. 

Space constraints High-quality PV systems could be the best choice if you have a limited installation space. The monocrystalline panels will maximize the space by generating more electricity. Although you will incur an extra cost, it is worth it in the long run. 

On the other hand, if you have a lot of space on your roof or have opted for a ground-mounted system, you can go with polycrystalline solar panels. 

Financing option– If you want to purchase a solar system, investing in high-efficiency monocrystalline panels will undoubtedly result in high returns. 

When To Choose Monocrystalline Solar Panels Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels?

Choose Monocrystalline Solar Panels When: Choose Polycrystalline Solar Panels When:
– If you live in a location that has less sunlight
– If you care more about efficiency than the cost
– If you care about the aesthetics
– If you plan on smaller applications
– If you live in a location that has high sunlight
– If you care more about cost than you care about efficiency 
– If appearance is not important to you 
– If you want to apply it to larger areas
Table Displays When To Choose Monocrystalline Solar Panels Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels – solarixis.com

Can I Combine Polycrystalline And Monocrystalline Solar Cells?

Mixing polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells on the same system or photovoltaic array is possible. However, mixing them with different electronic features with different cells is not recommended as it might result in lower overall wattages.

If you have a special circumstance requiring mixing mono and poly solar panels, consult a professional who can factor in voltage amps and wattage before installation. 

Final Words

Polycrystalline solar panels are fitted with solar cells made from several melted silicon fragments. Conversely, monocrystalline solar panels are built with solar cells from a single silicon crystal.

The difference in manufacturing means that monocrystalline solar panels have a higher spectral response, thus performing better. The initial investment for mono solar panels may seem high, but you will produce more solar power to compensate for the additional cost. You will recover the expenses since the panel’s lifespan is 25+ years. 

Furthermore, their black color blends well with most roofs, making them discrete. If you are wondering which solar panel to invest in, I would advise you to go for monocrystalline.  

Altiné

Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the guy behind Solarixis.com. I am passionate about all things outdoors, running, reading, and self-reliance. I hope you find what you are looking for while visiting Solarixis.com.

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