Your Guide to Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Solar energy continues to be in demand, with enough infrastructure to power close to 19 million homes in the country. Some of the top producers of solar power include California, Texas, and North Carolina. If you are in the market for solar panels, two choices include monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.
As its name implies, monocrystalline solar panels derive from a single source of a silicon ingot. Meanwhile, the construction of polycrystalline solar panels involves multiple silicon fragments. Our guide compares the two types of solar panels based on cost, energy efficiency, design, and more to help you determine which is the right choice for you.
Monocrystalline solar panels
The construction of monocrystalline solar panels is intricate. It starts with a seed crystal that goes into the molten silicon. From there, the manufacturer pulls and rotates it to create the single ingot. The material is then cut into wafers to refract more sunshine. Because of the involved process, these panels tend to be more expensive. However, their design makes them more accessible for smaller roofs and creates more energy efficiency.
Polycrystalline solar panels
Conversely, polycrystalline solar panels consist of multiple silicon fragments. Manufacturers melt these fragments before joining them together. The simplicity in construction lends to a lower overall price. Yet, they do not offer the same efficiency found in their monocrystalline counterparts.
Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline features
|Monocrystalline||$$$$||15-22%||Up to 40 years|
|Polycrystalline||$$||13-17%||Up to 35 years|
Our take on monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline solar panels offer the highest levels of efficiency, quality and lifespan. However, if you need a cheaper option that is still durable and offers energy efficiency, then polycrystalline solar panels might be a wise choice.
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Features of monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels
This comparison covers cost, efficiency, and other influencing factors to help you decide:
The average cost per watt varies between $1 to $1.50 for monocrystalline solar panels. Alternatively, the price per watt for polycrystalline panels is $0.90 to $1. Polycrystalline units cost less because the construction is less intricate. Keep in mind the total cost of your solar panel system depends on the size of your roof, your home’s energy usage, whether you buy or lease your system, and tax incentives available.
When examining energy efficiency, the temperature coefficient makes a big difference between the two. The temperature coefficient measures the physical altering of material relative to temperature variances. When the weather becomes warmer, polycrystalline solar panels have higher coefficients. The higher one is, the less energy efficiency the panels render.
Further, monocrystalline panels generate energy efficiencies around 20%, while polycrystalline ones are around 15%, on average.
Solar panels last on average 25 years, which is why you see many companies offering warranties for that long. However, it is not uncommon for panels to exceed this average.
With monocrystalline ones, you could see a lifespan of 40 years, as they feature a lower rate of degradation. For polycrystalline panels, the operational life could be as high as 35 years.
It depends on your design and color tastes. Monocrystalline panels feature square wafers with a blackish hue. On the other hand, polycrystalline ones have a bluish look. Another difference resides in rounded corners. Monocrystalline ones have rounded corners, whereas polycrystalline panels do not.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Panels FAQs
Can you tell if solar panels are monocrystalline or polycrystalline by looking at them?
You sure can, as there are distinct design differences. Monocrystalline panels have rounded edges with a blackish hue. Polycrystalline ones have square wafers and are blue.
- Should I buy monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels?Monocrystalline panels last longer and offer better energy efficiency. If you are looking for a less pricey option, polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper yet offer similar benefits gained with monocrystalline options.
- What is the main difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels?Monocrystalline panels derive from a single silicon ingot. Polycrystalline solar panels contain multiple silicon fragments. In turn, monocrystalline panels are more efficient at converting solar energy into usable household electricity.
- What other types of solar panels are there other than monocrystalline or polycrystalline?The other major types of solar panels include passive emitter and rear cells (PERC) and thin film. PERC is unique because they have a layer that reflects sunlight into the cell, maximizing efficiency. Meanwhile, thin film panels are lighter and more flexible. Manufacturers construct them with cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide, or amorphous silicon. They fit a wide variety of roof sizes, making them more accommodating to homeowners.
- Should I buy monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels?