Choosing the right solar panel type ensure you benefit maximumly from your system. If you are planning to install solar panels or upgrade the ones you already have, you may be wondering which type to choose between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels.
While there are various types of solar panels MONOCRYSTALLINE and POLYCRYSTALLINE are the most common types due to their availability, durability, and efficiency.
In this post, we’ll highlight the main differences between these two types of solar panels to help you decide the right one for you.
AND if you stick until the end (Or use the table of contents to jump to the end), I will suggest the best monocrystalline solar panels and best polycrystalline solar panels.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
On this page
monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline: main differences
- While both types use silicon, the main difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is the silicon crystal technology used in making solar cells.
- Monocrystalline panels use a single silicon crystal, while polycrystalline panels use multiple crystals melted together.
- Monocrystalline panels are more efficient and more expensive than polycrystalline solar panel.
Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels: Key Metrics
The table below shows how monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels compare based on efficiency, power output, temperature coefficient, degradation rate, PTC rating, STC rating, Net present value (NPV), aesthetics, and cost.
|Key Metrics||Monocrystalline Panels||Polycrystalline Panels|
|Efficiency||More efficient (15-25%)||Less efficient (14-17%)|
|Temperature coefficient||Lower temperature coefficient||Higher temperature coefficient|
|Degradation rate||Slower degradation||Faster degradation|
|Net present value (NPV)||Higher||Lower|
|Aesthetics||Black with rounded edges||Blue with a checkerboard pattern|
|Cost||More expensive||More affordable|
Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient (15-25%) than polycrystalline solar panels (14-17%).
We can consider efficiency in three ways: Solar panel, module, and cell efficiency.
a. Solar efficiency
Solar efficiency is a measure of the amount of sunlight that falls on the surface of a solar panel and is converted into electricity.
Monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels, with an efficiency rating of 17-25% compared to 15-17% for polycrystalline panels.
b. Module efficiency
Module efficiency is the efficiency of the solar panel as a whole.
Monocrystalline panels have a higher module efficiency than polycrystalline panels because they have a simpler structure and fewer spaces between cells.
This means they can convert more sunlight into electricity per square foot of the panel.
c. Cell efficiency
Cell efficiency is a measure of the efficiency of the individual solar cell.
Monocrystalline panels have a higher cell efficiency than polycrystalline panels because they use a single silicon crystal.
Cell efficiency is the highest efficiency rating for a solar panel and is always higher than module efficiency.
2. Power Output
Monocrystalline panels have a higher power output than polycrystalline panels because they are more efficient.
They can produce more electricity per square foot of panel. Monocrystalline solar panels are ideal for areas where space is limited.
Polycrystalline solar panels are more suitable for large commercial installations where roof space is not a constricting factor.
3. Temperature Coefficient
The temperature coefficient of a solar panel is the percentage of power output a specific solar panel loses as the temperature rises above 77°F.
Monocrystalline solar panels have a simple structure and fewer spaces between cells. This reduces the impact of heat on their performance. Due to this, they have a lower temperature coefficient than polycrystalline panels.
This makes monocrystalline solar panels more suitable for areas with hotter temperatures.
Monocrystalline solar panels have a temperature coefficient of -0.3% / C to -0.5% / C. This means that for every increase in 1 degree Celsius in temperature above 25°C, a monocrystalline solar panel will lose between 0.3% and 0.5% of its power output.
Polycrystalline solar panels have a temperature coefficient of -0.3% to -1%. This means that for every increase in 1 degree Celsius in temperature above 25°C, a polycrystalline solar panel will lose between 0.3% and 1% of its power output.
4. PTC Rating
Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels have a PTC rating. PTC rating refers to PVUSA Test Conditions. It measures the power output of a solar panel under specific conditions.
The PTC rating is based on the panel’s output under more realistic conditions, including:
- Irradiance: The amount of sunlight hitting the panel
- Ambient temperature: The temperature of the air around the panel
- Wind speed: The speed of the wind around the panel
- Spectral content: The wavelength distribution of the sunlight hitting the panel
A monocrystalline solar panel has a higher PTC rating than polycrystalline solar panels.
This difference in PTC rating is because monocrystalline solar panels have higher efficiency than polycrystalline solar panels.
The PTC rating measures the output of a solar panel accurately under more realistic conditions.
5. Standard Test Conditions (STC) Rating
STC rating measures the power output of a solar panel under standard conditions. Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels have STC ratings.
The STC rating for monocrystalline panels is typically higher than that of polycrystalline panels because they are more efficient.
The specific conditions used in the STC rating are:
- Cell temperature: 25°C (77°F)
- Irradiance: 1000 W/m2
- Air mass: value of 1.5
6. Rate of Degradation
Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels degrade over time. But monocrystalline panels tend to degrade more slowly as they can withstand harsh weather conditions, heat, and exposure to UV light and are less prone to cracking or degradation over time.
7. Net Present Value (NPV)
The NPV of a solar installation depends on many factors, including the type of panels used.
However, because monocrystalline panels are more efficient, they can produce more electricity over their lifetime, increasing the NPV of a solar installation.
Monocrystalline solar panels are usually black in color, with a uniform appearance and a discreet look.
Polycrystalline solar panels can appear to have a blue hue, sometimes have a non-uniform structure, and are less aesthetically pleasing to some users.
It’s worth noting that the appearance of solar panels is a matter of personal preference, and what looks good to one person may not look good to another.
However, many users find that the uniform black color of monocrystalline solar panels is more aesthetically desirable than the blue hue and sometimes variegated pattern of polycrystalline panels.
Monocrystalline panels are more expensive than polycrystalline panels because they are more efficient and require more advanced manufacturing processes.
Choosing the Right Solar Panel Type: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline?
When choosing between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, it is essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
Here is a summary of the pros and cons of each type:
Monocrystalline Solar Panels:
- Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest level of efficiency at 15% to 25%
- They require less space compared to other types due to their high efficiency
- They last the longest, with a 25 to 35 years warranty
- They are optimized for commercial use
- They perform better in low levels of sunlight, making them ideal for cloudy areas
- They exhibit more excellent heat resistance than polycrystalline solar panels
- More aesthetically desirable
- Most expensive solar cells on the market
- Performance levels tend to suffer from an increase in temperature, although it is a slight loss when compared to other forms of solar cells
- Require more space than polycrystalline panels, as it has large cells
Polycrystalline Solar Panels:
- Lower cost than monocrystalline solar panels
- Better efficiency than thin-film solar panels
- They are simpler and cheaper manufacturing process
- No silicon waste
- Lower efficiency than monocrystalline solar panels, typically ranging from 15% to 20% due to low silicon purity
- Require more panels to produce the same amount of electricity as monocrystalline solar panels.
- Less space-efficient than monocrystalline solar panels
- Fragile and can break easily
- Lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar panels and perform slightly worse than monocrystalline solar panels in high temperatures.
Ultimately, the choice between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels will depend on individual needs and preferences.
Monocrystalline panels are recommended when space is limited and you are willing to invest more to achieve top efficiency.
Polycrystalline panels are a good choice for those who want a more affordable option with better efficiency than other solar panel types, such as thin-film solar panels.
However, you will need to choose the right size of solar power system for maximum benefits.
Other factors to consider when choosing between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels include geographic location, available space, budget, and energy efficiency goals:
Consider the climate and weather conditions in your geographic location.
Polycrystalline panels may be a better choice if you live in an area with high temperatures due to their temperature tolerance.
Monocrystalline panels’ higher efficiency may be advantageous in regions with limited space.
Evaluate the available space for solar panel installation. Polycrystalline panels may be a cost-effective option if you have ample roof space.
However, if space is limited, monocrystalline panels’ higher power output per square foot can help maximize electricity generation.
Consider your budget for the solar project. If cost is a significant factor, polycrystalline panels provide a more affordable option without compromising the overall performance.
Energy Efficiency Goals
Assess your energy efficiency goals and the amount of electricity you aim to generate. If you have high energy demands and limited space, monocrystalline panels’ higher efficiency can help meet your requirements.
Manufacturing Process: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline solar panels
The manufacturing process for monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels differs in how the silicon is purified and shaped into cells.
Here are some key points about the manufacturing process for each type of panel:
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- The silicon is purified and then pulled slowly to create a homogeneous cylindrical crystal in a process called the Czochralski Process.
- The ingot is then cut into thin wafers, which are polished, improved, diffused, and assembled into panels.
- The manufacturing process for monocrystalline panels is more complex and uses higher-quality materials, resulting in higher production costs.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- The silicon is purified and left to cool and fragment rather than being pulled into a cylindrical crystal.
- The fragments are then melted and poured into cubic-shaped growth crucibles, solidifying into ingots.
- The ingots are cut into thin wafers and assembled into panels.
- The manufacturing process for polycrystalline panels is simpler and uses smaller bits of silicon, resulting in lower production costs.
N-Type vs. P-Type Solar Cells
N-type and P-type solar cells are semiconductor materials used in solar cell technology.
They differ in the doping agents used and the majority of charge carriers they possess.
Here’s a comparison between the two:
Solar cells use special materials called semiconductors to turn sunlight into electricity.
These semiconductors have impurities added to them, like adding special ingredients to a recipe. These impurities are called doping agents.
Doping agents help create different parts in the semiconductor material with special electrical properties.
They make one part have extra electrons, which are tiny particles with negative charges. This part is called the N-type.
The other part has something called “holes,” which are like spaces where electrons can go. This part is called the P-type.
In N-type solar cells, the semiconductor material (usually silicon) is doped with impurities like phosphorus or arsenic, which introduce extra electrons into the material. These impurities are known as donor impurities.
In P-type solar cells, the semiconductor material is doped with impurities like boron or gallium, creating “holes” or electron deficiencies. These impurities are known as acceptor impurities.
Majority charge carriers
The majority of charge carriers in N-type solar cells are electrons. The extra electrons introduced by the donor impurities become the majority carriers responsible for conducting the current in the cell.
Most charge carriers in P-type solar cells are the “holes” created by the acceptor impurities.
These holes act as positive charge carriers and contribute to the current flow in the cell.
In N-type solar cells, the extra electrons in the conduction band allow for easier movement of electrons, as they have higher energy levels.
In P-type solar cells, the “holes” in the valence band create lower energy levels, making it easier for electrons to fill these holes and create a current flow.
N-type and P-type solar cells are often used to form a PN junction, which is the basis for many solar cell designs.
When the N-type and P-type parts are combined, they make a PN junction.
This junction is like a unique line where the N-type and P-type meet. It helps the solar cell turn sunlight into electricity.
At the junction, the extra electrons from the N-type material diffuse to fill the holes in the P-type material, creating an electric field known as the depletion region.
Solar Cell Types: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline
The use of N-type and P-type solar cells in monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels depends on the desired properties of the panel.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
N-type solar cells are typically used in monocrystalline solar panels because they are more efficient than P-type solar cells.
This is because N-type solar cells are less susceptible to light-induced degradation (LID), which is a loss of performance that occurs in the first few hours of exposure to sunlight.
N-type solar cells also have a lower surface recombination velocity, meaning they are more efficient at capturing and converting photons into electricity.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
P-type solar cells are typically used in polycrystalline solar panels because they are less expensive to manufacture.
This is because P-type solar cells do not require the same purity level as N-type solar cells.
P-type solar cells also have a higher tolerance for radiation damage, making them a good choice for solar panels used in space or other harsh environments.
|Cost||More expensive||Less expensive|
|Surface recombination velocity||Lower||Higher|
|Radiation damage tolerance||Lower||Higher|
Application: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are used in various residential, commercial, and industrial applications.
However, the better choice for a specific project will depend on the project’s specific needs.
Monocrystalline solar panels are best for limited space since they produce more electricity on a smaller scale than polycrystalline panels.
They are also more efficient than polycrystalline panels because they are cut from a single silicon source.
Consider monocrystalline solar panels if you have limited space or are willing to invest more to achieve top efficiency.
Polycrystalline solar panels are more affordable than monocrystalline panels. If you are looking to install solar panels for your home, RV, mountain cabin, or shed on a budget, you should consider polycrystalline solar panels.
They are also a good choice when you have ample roof space.
You should note that the choice between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels will depend on the specific needs and priorities of the project, including available space, budget, and desired efficiency.
Impact of Humidity on Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline solar panels
Humidity can impact the performance of both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels’ efficiency through absorption, reflection, and refraction.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
However, polycrystalline solar panels are more sensitive to humidity than monocrystalline solar panels.
This is because the grain boundaries in polycrystalline solar cells can trap moisture, leading to decreased efficiency.
Grain boundaries are interfaces between adjacent grains in a polycrystalline material.
According to research, the peak in the efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels is observed at a relative humidity value of 65% and module temperature of about 47°C at noon.
An increase in humidity and temperature together have a negative effect on the performance of polycrystalline solar cells.
Polycrystalline solar panels have a high-temperature coefficient than monocrystalline panels, meaning they’re less productive in hot temperatures.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Increasing humidity reduces a monocrystalline solar panel’s efficiency and power output.
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in warm weather.
Best solar panels: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels
We’ve compiled a list of the best monocrystalline solar panel and best polycrystalline solar panels to help you make easy decisions while choosing one.
Best monocrystalline solar panels
1. Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Efficiency: 18-22%
- Power output: 320-400 watts
- Warranty: 25 years
- Price: Starting at $0.99 per watt
Renogy monocrystalline solar panels are a good overall choice if you are looking for a reliable and affordable solar panel.
They are made with high-quality materials and are backed by a 25-year warranty.
2. Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Pane
- Efficiency: 19-21%
- Power output: 320-340 watts
- Warranty: 10 years
Newpowa monocrystalline solar panels are a budget-friendly option that still offers good performance.
They are made with high-quality materials and are backed by a 10-year warranty.
3. HQST Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Efficiency: 18-20%
- Power output: 320-360 watts
- Warranty: 12 years
HQST monocrystalline solar panels are a good option for those looking for an off-grid solar panel.
They are made with high-quality materials and are backed by a 12-year warranty.
4. Canadian Solar HiKu 660W
- Efficiency: 21.5%
- Power Output: 660 watts
- Warranty: 12 years
Canadian Solar HiKu 660W is a high-power monocrystalline solar panel from Canadian Solar, a leading solar panel manufacturer.
This panel is made with Canadian Solar’s HiKu cell technology, which helps to improve the panel’s efficiency and performance. A 12-year warranty also backs it.
5. SunPower Maxeon 3 Max
- Efficiency: 22.4%
- Power output: 405 watts
- Warranty: 25 years
SunPower Maxeon 3 Max is the market’s most efficient monocrystalline solar panel.
It is made with SunPower’s Maxeon cell technology, known for its high efficiency and durability. The panel has a 25-year warranty.
6. REC Alpha Pure
- Efficiency: 22.2%
- Power output: 400 watts
- Warranty: 25 years
REC Alpha Pure is a high-quality monocrystalline solar panel from REC, a leading solar panel manufacturer.
This panel is made with REC’s N-type monocrystalline cells, known for their high efficiency and durability.
The panel has a 25-year warranty.
Best polycrystalline solar panels
1. Sharp NDAH330 Solar Panel
2. Trina Solar Vertex 600W
3. Renogy Polycrystalline Solar Panel
4. Canadian Solar CS6P-335MS
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I mix monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels in the same installation?
Yes, mixing different types of solar panels in the same installation is possible.
However, it is essential to consider factors such as voltage compatibility, wiring configurations, and potential differences in performance.
2. Are monocrystalline solar panels more expensive than polycrystalline panels?
Generally, monocrystalline solar panels are slightly more expensive than polycrystalline panels.
However, the price difference may vary depending on panel efficiency, brand, and installation costs.
3. Do monocrystalline solar panels perform better in low-light conditions?
Yes, monocrystalline solar panels perform better in low-light conditions than polycrystalline panels.
The uniform structure of monocrystalline cells allows for better light absorption, resulting in improved performance in dimmer lighting situations.
4. Which type of solar panel is more suitable for large-scale commercial installations?
Polycrystalline solar panels are often preferred for large-scale commercial installations due to their cost-effectiveness and scalability.
These panels can provide substantial energy generation at a lower upfront cost.
5. What is the average lifespan of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels?
Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have a similar average lifespan of around 25 to 30 years.
Proper maintenance and regular inspections can maximize the lifespan of the panels.
6. Are there any government incentives available for installing solar panels?
Yes, many governments offer incentives, such as tax credits and rebates, to encourage the installation of solar panels.
These incentives can vary depending on your location, so it’s essential to research the available programs in your area.
7. Can I install solar panels, or do I need to hire professionals?
While it is possible to install solar panels yourself, hiring professionals for the installation process is highly recommended.
They have the expertise and experience to ensure proper installation, compliance with building codes, and optimal performance.
8. Do solar panels require a lot of maintenance?
Solar panels generally require minimal maintenance. Regular cleaning to remove dust and debris and periodic inspections to identify any issues are typically sufficient to keep the panels operating efficiently.
9. Do solar panels work during cloudy days?
Yes, solar panels can still generate electricity during cloudy days. While their efficiency may be slightly reduced compared to sunny days, they can still produce significant power in diffuse light conditions.
10. Are monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels equally durable?
Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are durable and designed to withstand various weather conditions.
However, choosing panels from reputable manufacturers is essential to ensure high-quality construction and durability.
11. Between monocrystalline and polycrystalline, which type of solar panel is better for areas with limited space?
If you have limited space, monocrystalline solar panels are generally the better option as they produce more electricity on a smaller scale than polycrystalline panels.
Monocrystalline solar panels can generate the maximum amount of energy even in areas of lower sunlight.
12. What is the warranty period for monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels?
The warranty period for monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is typically 25 years.
This means the manufacturer guarantees that the panels will produce at least 80% of their original power output after 25 years.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, the choice between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels depends on various factors, including efficiency requirements, budget, installation constraints, and environmental considerations.
By understanding these panels’ advantages, costs, installation considerations, performance, and environmental impact, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and goals.
Harnessing solar energy through the right choice of solar panels can lead to significant long-term savings, reduced environmental impact, and a more sustainable energy future.
Polycrystalline solar panels are a good choice for those who want a more affordable option with better efficiency than thin-film solar panels.
However, they are less efficient and more fragile than monocrystalline solar panels, requiring more panels to produce the same amount of electricity.