How to Pick Between Monocrystalline & Polycrystalline Solar Panels

It’s essential to consider many factors when planning to install solar panels in your home. First, you should decide on the precise type of solar panels to use- the kind that will perfectly fit your needs. Yes, you must determine what type of solar panel will serve your home best.

We can classify most of the solar panels existing in the market into three classes:  Polycrystalline solar panels, monocrystalline and thin-film solar panels. Of course, many often wonder: What is the difference between the three types of solar panels? Once you know the difference, you’ll be in a better position to decide the kind of panels to use on your roof. Of course, this also depends on your roof design and structure.

For starters, let’s get to know each of these types of panels.

What is a Monocrystalline Solar Panel?

Well, monocrystalline solar panels comprise some of the most commonly used residential installation panels. Due to their excellent efficiency and aesthetics, monocrystalline panels are increasingly becoming a favorite of many.

When considering rooftop solar installations, many are choosing these panels over others. As noted, most people prefer these panels because they look beautiful! How? The solar cells within a monocrystalline panel is a single flat black color– this attractive design contributes to its popularity among many homeowners.

A monocrystalline panel is easily identifiable by the shape of its silicone wafers– these have a square shape with the corners cut off.

Performance

Compared with other panels, these panels are highly efficient and come with excellent power capacity. Indeed, the efficiency of monocrystalline panels ranges from 17% – 22%. Since they are designed from a single silicon crystal, electrons can flow easier through their cells. This makes their PV cell efficiency higher than other solar panel types.

Due to their higher efficiency, monocrystalline panels do not need much space to achieve the desired power capacity. Hence, these panels have a high power output rating compared to other types. This means you need fewer monocrystalline panels to generate a high power out.

Construction

Monocrystalline solar panels derive their name from the way they are made. Each solar cell contains a silicon wafer made up of a single silicon crystal. This crystal is formed using a method known as Czochralski. In this method, a seed crystal is put into molten pure silicone vat at high temperatures. Next, the seed is drawn up with the molten silicone forming around it to create a single crystal. After this, the large crystal (or ingot) is cut into small wafers- these are then used to form the solar panels.

A monocrystalline panel usually contains 60- 72 solar cells; it depends on the panel size. Most residential installations generally use 60-cell monocrystalline silicon panels.

Cost

The panels generally cost more than the others due to their efficiency and power rating. High premium solar panels like LG Neon and SunPower X, for example, are essentially monocrystalline.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are mostly used by low-budget solar users. They are sometimes called multicrystalline panels. A polycrystalline silicon solar cell does not need to have the corners cut off to avoid seeing the large spaces on the panel front. The panels are designed blue in color- however, some consider this as an eyesore. They are generally less efficient compared to monocrystalline panels.

Construction

Polycrystalline panels are manufactured in a similar way to monocrystalline panels. They also contain 60-72 cells.

Performance

Polycrystalline efficiency rating is about 15-17%. Modern technological developments have improved these panel’s efficiency, rivaling the monocrystalline. Thus, the standard 60-cell polycrystalline panel has been enhanced to more than 300 watts from 240 watts.

Cost

Polycrystalline panels cost less to produce than monocrystalline. Notably, between 2012-2016 this made them a favorite for residential installations. Nevertheless, their performance is lower.

Price

Monocrystalline solar panels that are out on sale are relatively costlier compared to polycrystalline. To make the best choice and determine the budget, you need to draw up an accurate cost-benefit analysis.

Efficiency

Monocrystalline solar panels are highly efficient. The panels are designed using superior quality silicone with a single crystal structure.  They also have minimal electric flow resistance within the cells. On their part, polycrystalline panels are cheaper, but the efficiency rating is lower ( 14-16%). Their silicon purity is generally lower.

Lifespan

Monocrystalline panels have a 25-year warranty due to the product’s longer lifespan. The difference with polycrystalline isn’t much, but the warranty period differs.

Temperature Coefficient

Because of the higher temperature coefficient, monocrystalline panels have comparatively higher efficiency. As the temperature rises, the output degradation in these panels gets lower.

Aesthetics

Many users of solar panels find the speckled blue hue polycrystalline silicone as an eyesore.  They, therefore, prefer monocrystalline panels since they appear more uniform and are aesthetically desirable.

Which is Best For Your Home- Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline  Panels?  

This question has often cropped up in many people’s minds: Should I choose monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels? Which type is right for me? You know this when you decide to go for solar panels, you’re hoping to make savings.

Hence, you want to make the best decision that comes with the benefit of reduced electricity bills. Whether you pick  a monocrystalline or polycrystalline panel at the end of the day, it depends on you- yes, it boils down to personal preference. Other factors include your financial options and space constraint.

Consider these:

Personal preference

If you consider solar panel color to be important,  keep in mind that monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels appear more or less differently after installation on the roof. A typical monocrystalline panel tends to have a dark black color, while polycrystalline panels appear slightly different.

In case the place where the panels are manufactured is the most important consideration, soak up enough knowledge about the company that makes your desired monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels.

Space constraints

If the size of your PV system is limited by the available space on your roof, you should pick higher-efficiency solar panels. Of course, in this situation, it might make better sense to go for the more efficient monocrystalline panels even if they cost considerably more.

Why? These will go along way towards ensuring the maximizing of electricity production and getting more efficient service. However, if you’re installing ground-mounted solar and have lots of roof space, then a more sensible economic option is to go for the lower efficiency polycrystalline.

Solar financing

The way in which your solar installation project is financed undoubtedly plays a significant part in determining the type of panel that you end up choosing. Think of it: If you opt for a power purchase agreement( or PPA), you are obligated to pay per kilowatt-hour for the power produced by the system. This means that your monthly payment determines your savings (above the value of equipment offered).

In contrast,  if you’re purchasing your system, you’ll get higher returns on the solar investment by going for the higher-efficiency monocrystalline panels.

Alternative Solar Cell Technologies You Can Try

Apart from polycrystalline and monocrystalline, there are several other solar panel choices available for you.  This is true even though the two standard solar panels are popular and make up the biggest solar panel market percentage. In particular, many residential and commercial installations usually prefer monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.

You may already know about the modern thin-film solar technology. This includes panels designed from various flexible and lightweight materials compared to the typical silicone panels.  However, note that thin-film technology is considerably inferior to crystalline silicon technology in terms of performance and efficiency. Nevertheless, the choice is yours.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are high-quality solar panels popular with many. As expected, both of these types of panels have advantages and disadvantages.

Do you prefer a beautiful color and design? Do you prefer a higher efficiency product? The choice is yours. The verdict? Most people prefer monocrystalline panels for their high efficiency, durability, and general productivity.

You can now pick one!

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