Last updated on October 11th, 2019
How do you know if you should buy monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels? There are several key differences that you need to be aware of.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panel: What’s the Difference?
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels perform their function in a similar pattern. Both these solar cells utilize sunlight to produce electricity. However, this doesn’t suggest that there is no difference between these two types of solar cells and their efficiency.
Talking about their structure, they look almost the same. The basic material used in the production of solar cells is Silicon. But the process of making solar cells is different, which affects their performance and durability.
Here, we will try to explain everything that you should know about the types of solar cells and their efficiency, manufacturing techniques used for the monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panel and their advantage/disadvantages.
Have questions about solar energy and installation? Download our FREE printable guide that highlights the most important questions to ask about solar energy, including:
- Things to ask your solar panel salesman
- Questions to ask your solar panel installer before, after and during installation
It takes 5 seconds to download and get started.
To begin with, you need to know what are solar panels and how they produce electricity from the sunlight.
What are Solar Panels?
The basic purpose of solar panels is to convert solar energy into electricity. Each solar panel consists of a series of cells. The presence of a large number of solar cells allows to capture the maximum amount of sunlight and converts it into electricity.
An independent solar cell is capable of producing only a small amount of energy. However, when they work together in a collaborated circuit, they produce enough power to run our electric appliances.
In order to get maximum power, it is essential that the solar panel must face the sun directly. Hence, when more light strikes the solar panel, it can generate more electricity. Generally, Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels use silicon as a primary material.
All solar panels work on a simple pattern. Each of the silicon solar panels has both positive and negative layers, which create an electric field, as we observe in case of a battery.
Sunlight travels in the form of photons. When these photons hit the surface of a solar cell, they tend to force electrons to leave their atoms. By attaching the conductors to positive and negative sides of a solar cell, an electrical circuit comes into existence.
As a result, electrons start to flow through this circuit, which produces electricity. In order to increase the power, you can align different solar panels into a solar array.
Hence, by multiplying the number of solar panels, you can generate the required amount of energy and use it to supply sufficient power to your home or residential place. It’s easy to purchase solar panels online nowadays.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panel
In fact, both polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels serve the purpose well by producing the required amount of electricity for your home. However, there are certain differences that relate to the types of technology used for the manufacturing of these panels.
Although these are the technical aspects, you must have a clear understanding of such factors before making a final purchase.
The main difference between the two technologies is the type of silicon solar cell they use. The solar cells of monocrystalline panels have a single crystal of silicon.
Whereas, the solar cells of polycrystalline panels have multiple silicon fragments.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Generally, monocrystalline solar panels are considered as the premium solar product. Their sleek design and efficient performance are some of the main reasons for preferring this type of solar panel.
In order to make PV cells for the monocrystalline solar panels, manufacturers use silicon as the basic ingredient. The silicon bars are cut into thin slices or wafers. The term monocrystalline refers to the use of single-crystal silicon in the production of this kind of solar panel.
The single crystal composition of the PV cell allows the electrons to have enough room for their flow. This suggests that monocrystalline solar panels work more efficiently than polycrystalline panels.
Monocrystalline Solar Panel Advantages
- The first and foremost advantage of Monocrystalline solar panels is their better efficiency
- Use of highest-grade silicon makes them highly durable and sturdy
- Monocrystalline solar panels usually offer 15-20% efficiency rates
- Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are more space-efficient
- These solar panels are capable of yielding the highest power outputs. Moreover, they need relatively less space as compared to any solar panels
- Monocrystalline solar panels can generate up to four times more electricity than thin-film solar panels
- Monocrystalline solar panels can perform well for longer than the expected period. Most of the manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty on their monocrystalline solar panels
- Performs much better even under low-light conditions
Monocrystalline Solar Panel Disadvantages
- Monocrystalline solar panels are expensive than polycrystalline panels.
- The partial covering of the monocrystalline panel with snow or dirt breaks down the entire circuit
- The manufacturers use Czochralski process to make monocrystalline silicon. This results in the construction of huge cylindrical ingots. In order to give a square shape to these ingots, manufacturers cut out their all four sides. As a result, a significant amount of silicon goes into waste
- Monocrystalline solar panels perform well in the warm weather. However, as the temperature lowers, the performance suffers
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient when compared to monocrystalline panels. Nevertheless, they cost you less, which is the biggest factor that makes them a viable option for most of the customers.
Moreover, polycrystalline solar panels have a distinctive blue hue color, which makes it easy to differentiate them from the monocrystalline panels.
Just like monocrystalline panels, silicon is also the primary component of a polycrystalline solar panel. But instead of a single silicon crystal, manufacturers use multi-crystals of silicon for the production of this solar panel. They melt different fragments of silicon to create wafers and then attach them to the panel.
Since there are more than one silicon crystals in each cell, there is less room for the electrons to move freely. This is the reason polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient than their monocrystalline counterparts.
Want to go solar for free? Try Arcadia Power and get $20 off your electric bill when you sign up.
Polycrystalline Solar Panel Advantages
- Polycrystalline silicon panels are less expensive; hence, they are more cost-effective
- Less amount of silicon goes to waste during the production of polycrystalline silicon panels
- Polycrystalline solar panels perform well even in the hot weather, as their heat tolerance is slightly lower
- These solar panels are easily available in the market, allowing you to purchase them without much of a hassle
Polycrystalline Solar Panel Disadvantages
- Polycrystalline solar panel tends to be less efficient (offers 13-16% efficiency rate)
- The purity level of silicon is lower as compared to monocrystalline solar panels. Hence, they are less efficient and durable
- Polycrystalline solar panels are less space-efficient. It requires covering more area for generating a similar amount of power that you can obtain through monocrystalline solar panels
- Polycrystalline solar panels have a thick construction, which makes them less aesthetically pleasing
See Related: Solar Thermal vs Photovoltaic
How to Determine to Use Monocrystalline of Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Although both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels perform a similar function, there are some aspects that you should keep in mind while purchasing one of these panels.
Given below are some of the factors, which will help you to make a final decision.
No doubt, saving money is the basic reason behind buying a solar panel. By using a solar-powered system, you can minimize your electricity bills and ensure a continuous supply of electricity to your home or workplace.
Therefore, whether you are opting for a monocrystalline or polycrystalline panel, you will definitely save a lot of money by decreasing your electricity bills. However, by choosing the right option, you can even cut the cost of your solar system and save some additional amount.
If you are tight on budget, polycrystalline may turn out to be the viable choice. They are less expensive and offer more or less similar performance that you can get from more costly monocrystalline panels.
Your individual preferences count a lot when choosing a viable option. For instance, if you like a specific color (black or blue), you can choose between the monocrystalline and polycrystalline depending on this aspect.
A monocrystalline panel has a black hue color, whereas, polycrystalline panel has a bluer color. If you like a specific color that looks good on your roof, you can make a choice depending on this factor.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a specific manufacturer, you should know whether that company is offering both the mono and poly solar panels. This will allow you to choose a better option when buying solar panels for your home or office.
How Much Space Do You have?
Space constraint is another factor that you should keep in mind when making a decision about buying your solar panels. If there is less space available on your roof, it is essential to install higher-efficiency solar panels.
Monocrystalline panels are more efficient and generate the required amount of power by installing a less number of solar panels on your roof.
Although monocrystalline panels are expensive, they tend to lower your installation cost and generate more electricity. This means you can save a lot in the end.
In addition, you will have more space to install additional panels when you need to increase the production of electricity to meet your future demands.
See Related: SunPower Solar Panels Review
Benefits of Using Solar Panels
Apart from other types of renewable energy resources, solar energy is gaining widespread acceptance among commercial and residential consumers. Solar panels turn out to be efficient when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity or heat energy. You can use solar panels to charge batteries.
The best part of this energy source is that it is free, as you don’t have to pay for using the sunlight. Moreover, it is abundant and there is no shortage of sunlight around the earth. With the latest advancement in technology, we are now able to harness even more electricity through PV solar cells.
Solar panels offer numerous benefits apart from generating electricity. Below are some of the benefits of using solar panels.
Helps to Protect our Environment
The negative impact of solar panels on our environment is negligible. When compared to other energy sources like coal, fossil fuels, and nuclear power, solar panels prove to be more efficient and environment-friendly.
While generating heat or electric energy through a solar panel, there is no issue of greenhouse gas emission. Moreover, this type of energy source doesn’t pollute water or soil. You need a small amount of water to maintain your solar system. Whereas, thermal power plants utilize 20 times more water than a solar system.
In addition, you don’t cause noise pollution when creating electricity through the solar system. This makes it a viable option even for the urban areas.
Lowers Energy Bills
If you are generating energy through solar panels, you are actually lowering the cost of your energy bills. Solar panels are capable of producing the required amount of electricity that you can use to run a different electric appliance.
In addition, you can also earn money by selling the surplus amount of energy to the grid. Hence, you can become self-sufficient when it comes to electricity production.
Want to go solar for free? Try Arcadia Power and get $20 off your electric bill when you sign up.
You Can Easily Install Solar Panels Anywhere
What a solar panel need is sunlight. That should be your top priority. Hence, as long as a sufficient amount of sunlight is available, you can mount your solar panels anywhere in the world. Solar energy is the best option if you want to produce electricity in remote areas, which are not accessible by the grid.
When attached to a proper storage system, solar panels can provide a constant supply of electricity. In fact, solar energy can change the lives of millions by offering them an uninterrupted supply of electricity.
Have other questions on solar energy? Download our solar energy questions and answers handbook to get all the answers you need.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline: Price Difference
Monocrystalline solar panels appear to be quite expensive when compared to polycrystalline panels.
The price of a monocrystalline panel ranges from $200 to $300, which mainly depends on the quality and size of a solar panel.
However, polycrystalline solar panels are relatively cheaper than monocrystalline panels. Depending on the size and quality of a solar panel, the price of polycrystalline panels ranges from $60 to $90.
Use our best solar panel buying guide to find the right solar panel for you.
After reading such a comprehensive monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline comparison, one can easily differentiate between the types of solar cells and their efficiency.
Although they perform a similar function, it is up to you to decide which one can serve you better. While making a choice, you must consider different aspects such as cost, performance, available space and how much energy you need for your residential or commercial building.
Will you choose monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
- Best Solar Panels for Camping
- Best Books on Renewable Energy
- How Human-Environmental Interaction Works