The two main types of solar panels that are typically used for residential premises are monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels. While both function to produce solar energy, there are certain differences in these two types of solar panels.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels get their name from the single crystal silicon that is used in the manufacturing process. Using the Czochralski process, a seed crystal is placed in pure molten silicon at a very high temperature. Molten silicon forms around the single seed crystal when it is drawn up, forming one large crystal. This large crystal is then sliced into thin wafers that will be made into the solar cells that you see on rooftops.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline panels are also known as multi-crystalline panels.
Similar to monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels are also made from silicon. However, instead of a pure single crystal, many silicon fragments are melded together using high temperature to form the wafers. This process is less intensive than the one used for monocrystalline solar panels.
What is the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline?
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels differ in their efficiency, price, and temperature coefficient. They also have different lifespans as well as distinct aesthetic qualities.
Read on to find out how the panels compare to each other.
The key difference between monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels is in their efficiency.
Monocrystalline panels have higher efficiency as well as a higher power capacity when compared to polycrystalline panels.
The single-cell structure and superior silicon of monocrystalline panels allow electrons to flow better and thus, resulting in higher efficiency. These panels usually have efficiencies that are higher than 20%. Monocrystalline panels usually come with a power capacity of 300 watts (W) and above.
Polycrystalline panels usually have an efficiency between 15 to 17 % due to their reduced silicon purity. These panels also have lower power wattages.
The difference in efficiency and power capacity does not mean that the panels are of different sizes. Both types usually have 60, 72 or 96 cell panels. The efficiency and power capacity can be compared on a per-panel basis.
Monocrystalline solar panels cost more than polycrystalline solar panels. This is largely due to the expensive energy-intensive manufacturing process. The high cost is then transferred to the end-user.
Polycrystalline panels are lower in price as their production is much simpler. In addition to this, their lower efficiency also plays a role in the pricing.
3. Temperature coefficient
Compared to polycrystalline solar panels, monocrystalline solar panels have a higher temperature coefficient that results in higher efficiency. This is especially useful if you are living in a region where there is sufficient sunlight as higher temperatures mean lower power output degradation.
Monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels differ in their lifespans as well. The average lifespan of monocrystalline panels is a minimum of 25 years while polycrystalline panels can last to around 20 years and go up to a maximum of 25 years.
The lifespan of the panels should be taken into account when considering the price of the panels so that replacement costs can be factored into your budget. Also, do note that manufacturers may offer a longer warranty period for monocrystalline solar panels as compared to polycrystalline panels.
Read our article on “How long do solar panels last?” to understand more about their lifespan, and tips to manage for optimum life.
Monocrystalline solar panels have black cells that look like squares with their corners cut off while polycrystalline solar panels have square cells that have a marbled bluish hue. The difference in color comes from the way light interacts with the pure silicon crystal of the monocrystalline solar panels and the silicon fragments in polycrystalline solar panels.
The sleeker, uniformed appearance of monocrystalline solar panels makes it more aesthetically desirable as compared to polycrystalline solar panels.
|Lifespan||Minimum of 25 years||Up to 25 years|
|Aesthetics||Black color panels||Blue color panels|
|Key Manufacturers||Sunpower, LG, Hyundai||Solarworld, Kyocera, Trina|
Monocrystalline solar panels vs. Polycrystalline solar panels
Which one is better for you- monocrystalline or polycrystalline?
Both monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels actually provide the same function and are equally popular. How do you then decide which is the best type for you?
Here are some factors that you should consider before making the final purchase.
The most common reason for installing solar panels is to reduce electricity bills. Sunlight is a renewable energy source that is readily available and the only thing you need to tap into it is to install a solar-powered system.
However, different types of panels have different costs and by choosing the right option, you will be able to save on the system itself. Due to its simpler manufacturing process, polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive compared to monocrystalline solar panels.
While monocrystalline panels are a bit more efficient, polycrystalline panels may be more suitable for you if you are on a tight budget.
Additionally, different sellers might charge differently for installation works. So do ask around to make sure that you get the best quality based on our allocated budget. Carefully draw up a cost-benefit analysis before you decide on which type of panel to purchase.
The second factor you should consider when deciding on whether you want to go with monocrystalline panels or polycrystalline panels is the space that you have.
Monocrystalline panels are the way to go if you have a smaller area on your roof. This is because the limited space means that you can only install fewer panels and thus, need higher efficiency panels.
For the same number of panels, monocrystalline panels will be able to generate more electricity than polycrystalline panels, making it popular with homeowners who have space constraints.
If you have a large area on your roof, you can opt for polycrystalline panels.
Also, do consider if your power usage will increase in the near future. If yes, you might want to choose monocrystalline panels as there will be space left for additional installations in the future.
Individual preferences count as well. Some people prefer the black color of monocrystalline panels as compared to the blue hue of polycrystalline panels and vice versa. Others decide on which type of panels to use based on how they look on their roofs.
For example, a residential property with blue roof tiles might decide on the polycrystalline panels as they match their roof color.
Additionally, you will also most likely be able to choose the color of the back sheets and frames. Monocrystalline panels usually have black, silver or white back sheets and black or silver metal frames. Polycrystalline panels usually have silver frames and silver or white/ back sheets.
Besides color, some people prefer a certain manufacturer over others. If you do prefer a certain brand, make sure you do the due diligence and find out the types of panels that they offer.
Benefits of using solar energy
If you are still deciding on whether or not to use solar energy, here are six reasons that will encourage you on your solar journey.
- Solar energy is a renewable resource that has the least negative impact on the environment. Compared to other energy sources, solar energy does not pollute the environment nor does it produce greenhouse gasses.
- A solar power system can be set up anywhere, as long as there is sunshine. Remote regions with no access to electricity will be able to benefit from this.
- You will be able to significantly reduce your electricity bills. Additionally, in some places, you will also be able to sell the unused electricity to the utility supplier/grid.
- It is possible to reduce energy losses when using solar power. The longer the distance between the production point and supply point, the more energy is lost. It is estimated that up to 3 to 5 % of energy is lost throughout transportation and distribution. Solar panels on the roof or in the surroundings of the premise significantly reduce this distance.
- You will be able to produce energy during peak hours. Naturally, more electricity is used during the day time, especially in the afternoons. Solar energy is usually at its maximum production during these hours.
- You will help to create jobs. As manpower is needed for installation, you will be able to boost the economy by contributing to job creation in your local community.
Both monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline panels will achieve their function to produce solar energy, albeit with differences in their efficiency, cost, temperature coefficient, aesthetics and lifespan.
Do consider the advantages and disadvantages of both types of panels and choose the one that is best suited for your budget and your property premises. You can also do some research on the manufacturers of the panels before making your purchase.