There are two main different types of solar panels, monocrystalline vs polycrystalline. But what do those words mean to you? All solar panels are made up of silicon solar cells. Those cells are made from silicon crystals. The silicon is made when a silicon ‘seed’ is placed in a vat of molten silicon. The difference between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline is how that silicon is used when making the panels.
Making the Panels
When the seed is slowly drawn upwards, the molten silicon forms a crystal. That crystal is then sliced very thinly into what is called ‘silicon wafers’. Those wafers are then crafted into the cells for the solar panel. This method is used to create Monocrystalline solar cells, and is also what gives it that name. The panels are made from one, solid crystal silicon, hence ‘monocrystalline’. This also accounts for the uniform color found in monocrystalline panels. Because the cells all came from one silicon crystal, they all have the same color.
Polycrystalline panels are made a bit differently. Rather than draw the ‘seed’ upwards, the silicon in the vat is simply allowed to cool. This silicone is then simply cut into the correct shapes and become polycrystalline solar cells. They are called ‘polycrystalline’ because the silicone is not refined into a single crystal. So the silicon takes different shades of color and has more grains in it.
But what other differences are there between monocrystalline and polycrystalline? We’ll cover them both below.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Higher Efficiency Rates
These panels are able to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency. They capture more energy, and with more dependability. This is because they’re made from a single, high quality crystal silicon.
More Space Efficient
Since monocrystalline panels can capture more energy, you don’t need to install as many. Your solar array can get a great rate of energy capture without needing as much roof space.
A Longer Lifespan
Because of the way they’re made, monocrystalline panels last significantly longer. They’re a lot more durable and robust due to the higher quality manufacturing process. They’ll keep making energy for you, and they’ll do it for decades.
Although monocrystalline panels have a lot of great benefits, they do come with one downside. Like many high-quality products out there, these panels come with a higher price. They work better and last longer, but that also makes them a bit more expensive.
So now we’ve talked a bit about why monocrystalline panels are so great. But what perks are there to choosing polycrystalline panels?
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Poly panels come with a smaller price tag. But that’s because they’re produced at a cheaper cost. They don’t have to follow the more stringent manufacturing process, which makes them easier to produce. The silicone required is usually a lower grade as well, making the process less expensive.
The downside to the lower cost is that they’re not as high in quality. Polycrystalline panels produce less energy due to how they’re produced. And since they aren’t as efficient, they require a larger amount of space. Their shorter lifespans are also something to consider.
To sum it all up, we’ve put together this little chart for you.
|Greater Benefits||Monocrystalline Panels||Polycrystalline Panels|
Ultimately, the monocrystalline vs polycrystalline winner is up to you. The decision is important, and often depends on each individual situation. For some, space may be more of a factor. For others, production may be more important. However, monocrystalline solar panels offer you the most bang for your buck. These panels will ultimately give you the biggest return on your investment over the long run.
At Sunpro, we install only high quality monocrystalline solar panels. The high quality and high efficiency make them a better choice, especially when space is a concern. Plus, the long lifespan means you will have clean, renewable energy for decades.
Editor’s Note: This page was originally published May 15, 2017. It has been updated.