Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: What are the Differences?
When you compare monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels, you may see many differences between these two solar panel types.
In this article, you will learn the differences between monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels, which are the most widely used types of photovoltaic solar panels. Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels, let’s find out which is the better for you.
What is a Monocrystalline Solar Panel?
A monocrystalline solar panel is a type of solar panel that consists of solar cells with a single crystal (i.e. monocrystalline structure).
Monocrystalline solar cells are made from a single silicon shaped as a cylinder ingot. Monocrystalline cells have higher efficiency and aesthetic appearance than polycrystalline cells.
The biggest reason why monocrystalline cells are more efficient is that they have more areas of electron flow due to their single-crystal structure. Therefore, it provides higher electricity generation.
As a result, monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient. And provide more power output than polycrystalline solar panels. Since the power output of monocrystalline panels is higher, you can generate more electricity with fewer panels.
For example, for a 10 kW system that you will install on your roof, you need between 27-30 polycrystalline solar panels, while you can get the same power with 20-24 monocrystalline solar panels.
What is a Polycrystalline Solar Panel?
Polycrystalline solar panels also consist of solar cells made of silicon. However, instead of single-crystal silicon, it consists of polycrystalline solar cells.
Polycrystalline solar panels have less efficiency than monocrystalline solar panels. This is because, in contrast to monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells have less space for electron flow. On the other hand, they are cheaper than monocrystalline solar cells because they are easier to manufacture.
To sum up, polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper than monocrystalline solar panels. But they have lower efficiency. In other words, you need to use more polycrystalline solar panels than monocrystalline solar panels to get the same power.
The Differences Between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The comparison of monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels is as in the table below.
|Metric||Monocrystalline Solar Panels||Polycrystalline Solar Panels|
|Cost||More expensive||More affordable|
|Efficiency||More efficient||Less efficient|
|Aesthetics||Solar cells are darker||Solar cells are lighter in color|
|Lifetime||25 years ensures efficient electricity generation||25 years ensures efficient electricity generation|
|Temperature Coefficient||Low-temperature coefficient, lower efficiency loss with temperature changes||High-temperature coefficient, higher efficiency loss with temperature changes|
Monocrystalline solar cells are more costly to produce than polycrystalline cells. Because of this reason, monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels.
Of course, the cost difference here is only for solar panels. Inverter, labor, wiring, and construction costs are the same for both panel types.
Although the monocrystalline solar panel is more expensive, it shortens the return on investment period in the long term due to its higher efficiency.
The efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels is higher than polycrystalline solar panels. While the efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels exceeds 23%, this level is below 20% for polycrystalline solar panels.
Aesthetically, the biggest difference between monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels is the color and shape of the cells in their structure. Monocrystalline cells are dark in color and have cut corners. Polycrystalline cells are light in color and square in shape.
When we look at the lifespan of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, we can say that both panels can produce electricity efficiently for up to 25 years. Of course, the loss of efficiency over the years in working conditions is more in polycrystalline solar panels. Therefore, you can use the monocrystalline panel more efficiently for longer.
Monocrystalline solar panels have a lower temperature coefficient than polycrystalline solar panels. In other words, they are less affected by temperature changes.
Nowadays, monocrystalline solar panels are being used more and more especially in power plant systems due to very high-efficiency models such as half-cut and bifacial. Although the initial investment cost is high, it shortens the payback period of the system in the medium and long term.
On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels are still widely used, especially in small off-grid solar systems, as they are cheaper. Therefore, it is important to choose the most suitable solar panel for your project. You can choose a polycrystalline solar panel for a small off-grid system and a monocrystalline solar panel for your long-term grid-connected system.