Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

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Are you undecided on whether to go for a monocrystalline solar panel or a polycrystalline solar panel? I get the confusion. Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are good choices.

The two serve the same purpose in the solar system. They are both made from silicon and capture the sun’s energy, turning it into electric energy. Silicon is used as it is durable and is a semiconductor.

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

However, there are key differences between these two major types of solar panel technologies. The main being the silicon solar cell used. Monocrystalline panels contain cells that are made by single crystals of silicon. On the other hand, solar cells used in polycrystalline solar panels are made from a number of silicon fragments that are melted together.

This article will dig deeper into the two major types of solar panel systems available in the market today giving you an in-depth look at some of their main features, pros, and cons. It will also give you an overall insight into the appropriate choice depending on your location, needs, and preferences.

Keep reading as we zoom in on the monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels battle.

What are Monocrystalline Solar Panels?

Monocrystalline solar panels are also referred to as single-crystalline cells. They derive their name from how they are made. They are easily identifiable by their cut edges and deep black color.

Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Monocrystalline solar panels contain solar cells. Each of the cells contains a crystal of silicon. Through the use of the Czochralski method, a seed crystal is formed by placing molten pure silicon at a high temperature.

Later the seed is drawn up, allowing the molten silicon to form around, creating a crystal. This large crystal is also referred to as an ingot, which is cut into thin wafers. These thinly sliced wafers are what make the solar cells.

A monocrystalline solar panel contains about 60 or 72 solar cells. This would however be determined by the size of the panel. The majority of residential premises use a 60-cell solar monocrystalline panel.

Monocrystalline solar panels work by capturing sunlight through their cells which absorb the energy. This energy undergoes a complicated process through which an electric field is created. The electric field comprises voltage and current thus generating power. The produced electricity is collected through the metal conductors that are printed onto the cell. This power can be used directly to operate electrical devices that run on direct current (DC). Using a converter, this power can also be converted into alternating current (AC).

The cells in monocrystalline solar panels have a pyramid pattern. This has the effect of creating a larger surface area which allows the panel to collect more energy from the sun’s rays.

Its top surface is diffused with phosphorus, building orientation of an electrically negative top and a positive bottom. This creates the electric field necessary for the generation of electricity. The cells are coated with silicon nitride as a way of reducing reflection and thereby increasing absorption.

Because of the way these panels are manufactured, their price is higher than other kinds of solar panels. They make for premium solar panels due to their high efficiency as well as power ratings.

Monocrystalline solar panels sell for around $0.05 per watt higher than other modules, this is according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

What are Polycrystalline Solar Panels?

Polycrystalline solar panels are similarly made from silicon. With this type of solar panel technology, a number of silicon fragments are melted together forming wafers for the solar panel. The panels carry a blue hue due to how the light from the sun reflects on several crystals of silicon.

Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Polycrystalline solar panels have a number of crystals in each cell. This results in less space to allow for the free movement of electrons. These solar panels have low-efficiency ratings albeit with a lower price point compared to monocrystalline options.

With these solar panels, the molten silicon that is used in the production of the cells is left to cool on the panel. The panels are square in shape, with a surface that looks rugged. The numerous silicon crystals in the cells absorb the energy from the sunlight converting it into electricity.

Polycrystalline panels are much more eco-friendly since they do not require individualized shaping. The placement of each of its crystals, as well as the silicon, is well utilized during its production which means there is minimal wastage. The acceptable minimum temperature of polycrystalline solar panels is -40 degrees Celsius while the maximum temperature is 85 degrees Celsius.

Polycrystalline solar panels carry the lowest efficiency rate compared to the other types due to their low heat tolerance. However, their temperature coefficient is higher than the other solar panel options in the market.

The fact that they come with a structural frame of their own, makes them cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels. They have a high power density and are priced about $3-$5 per watt on average.

The affordability of this type of solar panel makes it most ideal for large solar farms. Most standalone or self-powered devices use polycrystalline solar panels.

Detailed Features of Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Installing solar panels in your home or commercial premises is a financial consideration, with saving money on your energy bills being a major factor. As such solar panels have surged in popularity as an alternative eco-friendly source of energy surpassing other options such as fossil fuels.

Apart from materials used to manufacture the cells for solar panels, the process also brings together other essential components. The most common components of a solar panel are a glass sheet for the casing, bus wire, silicon solar cells, metal frame, standard 12V wire, and Plexiglas.

A standard solar panel has a glass casing at the front of the panel which adds to the protection as well as durability. Under the glass exterior, the panel also has a casing for insulation. This helps to limit heat waste and maintain humidity inside the panel.

Insulation is important because the temperature within the panel has to be controlled. Temperature increase leads to a decrease in panel efficiency. A decrease in efficiency means that there will be lower solar panel output.

The manufacturer, therefore, should ensure that the solar panel is able to capture as much light from the sun as possible without the technology being overheated.

As you look to make an informed decision that is right for you, here are some of the detailed features of both the mono and poly-crystalline solar panels:

1. Appearance

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Cells

You can easily recognize monocrystalline solar panels from their dark look. This appearance comes from how light interacts with pure silicon. They also have rounded squares edges with small spaces between each cell.

On the other hand, you can quickly distinguish polycrystalline solar panels because it has squares, its angles are not cut and it has a blue, speckled look.

2. Efficiency

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Efficiency

Because of the fact that monocrystalline solar panels are made from fine-grade silicon and that they have a single-crystal structure, they have a high-efficiency rate. Electricity flowing in the cells faces minimal resistance.

On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels have an efficiency rate of between 14%-18%. This is because the silicon used is not as pure as the one used in monocrystalline panels thus causing electricity flow to face high resistance in the cells.

3. Temperature Coefficient

Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher temperature coefficient than polycrystalline solar panels, therefore, can deliver high efficiency in warm weather. However, the difference between the two is slight.

If you live in a region with longer and warmer summers, a monocrystalline panel would be the most ideal choice.

4. Aesthetics

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel

The physical attractiveness of any of the panels largely depends on one’s personal preferences and aesthetics. However, the blue hue characteristic of polycrystalline silicon may not be too appealing to the eye. Monocrystalline solar panels thus appear more uniform and are more desirable and attractive.

5. Price

When looking to buy solar panels, you should draw a cost-benefit analysis to help you make the right choice that is within your set budget.

Monocrystalline solar panels cost more than polycrystalline solar panels due to superior features such as high power output and durability.

6. Lifespan

Manufacturers of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels usually offer a 25 to 30 year warranty.

However, monocrystalline panels last way longer than polycrystalline panels. They exceed their warranty period by far compared to polycrystalline panels whose rated output starts degrading significantly immediately after the warranty period.

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Pros and Cons

In today’s world solar energy is one of the best alternative sources of energy for many people. It is an environmentally friendly source of energy and is sustainable as well. With modern technology, cheaper solar panels have been manufactured. This has brought with it both advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of Monocrystalline Solar Panels

  • Has the highest level of efficiency at 17% to 24%
  • Lasts longer with a 25 to 35 years warranty
  • It requires less space compared to the other types. This is due to its high efficiency.
  • Performs even in cloudy areas
  • Requires low maintenance effort
  • Optimized for commercial use
  • Easy to install
  • Ideal for solar applications on a larger scale
  • The most expensive solar cells on the market
  • A lot of waste during manufacture
  • Performance affected by an increase in temperature

Pros and Cons of Polycrystalline Solar Panels

  • A simple and affordable option
  • No silicon waste during manufacture
  • They are durable
  • Suitable for use in areas with cool temperatures
  • Lower temperature coefficient
  • Lower efficiency ranging 14% to 18%
  • Requires a larger installation space
  • Lifespan can be affected by heat
  • Less efficient in cloudy conditions
  • Less aesthetically appealing
  • Lower architectural integration
  • Affected by high temperatures

Final Words

Over the years, solar panel technology has undergone impressive improvements yielding to the introduction of a range of innovative solar panels into the market such as flexible solar panels, monocrystalline, and polycrystalline solar panels. The two major categories of panels being monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

This has brought about the unending monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels tug a war with each trying to outdo the other.

The truth is, both are great conventional options that harness energy from the sun to produce electricity. The choice to go for will largely depend on your personal preferences, available space, and financing options at your disposal.

Take time and consider the pros and cons in addition to the detailed features that different solar panel options offer. It is critical to make the right choice by drawing your own comparison between the two solar panel options. This should guide you greatly in making the right choice.


Last update on 2021-09-05 at 22:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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