Solar panels are an important way to help reduce your carbon footprint and save money on monthly energy bills. There are two main types of solar panel products – monocrystalline and polycrystalline. But what’s the difference between mono and poly solar panels, and which one do you want for your brand new 2000-watt solar generator?
We want to help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type so that you can make an informed decision before deciding between monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what each type is, how they work, and which one will be better for your home.
There are two different types of solar energies (photovoltaic and thermal) that can be produced from solar panels. The contrast between photovoltaic and thermal technology is that they use different parts of sunlight to power your home. These come from the different types of panels that can be installed.
When it comes to creating solar energy, there are two types of panels that you can install in your home. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells use the sun’s power in different ways, but each has its advantages over one other.
Polycrystalline is what you’ll typically find on residential roofs while monocrystalline ones can be seen more often at big installations like schools or factories.
Below we have outlined monocrystalline vs polycrystalline – how the panels differ, including factors such as their cost, performance, and size.
Monocrystalline solar panels are a single-crystal form of silicon and can be identified by their black color.
They’re made from high purity ingot crystals that have been extracted, purified, crushed to powder size, melted into molten metal, then cast onto glass or stainless steel sheets for processing.
A monocrystalline solar panel will typically perform better in low-light and cloudy weather conditions than polycrystalline cells do. That’s why these panels are typically only used in applications where high performance is necessary.
Due to how efficient monocrystalline panels are for generating power, these expensive pieces make up for their price tag by not needing replacement as often as cheaper options do. They are an excellent investment for anyone looking to save money in the long run.
Monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline solar panels can both be expensive systems to purchase, however, a mono silicon solar cell will cost considerably more money upfront.
This is due to installation purposes; mono solar cells will require a more rigid and stable foundation to be set up on, which is why they can’t be easily moved from one location to another.
A monocrystalline solar cell can cost around $0.60-$0.90 per watt and some can go up to $1-$1.50 per watt.
Polycrystalline solar panels are made up of multiple different silicon crystals in each cell when compared with monocrystalline panels.
These particular solar cells are cheaper than mono panels and tend to be less efficient in generating power. This is due to the lack of movement for the electrons within the cells.
The overall process of manufacturing polycrystalline solar panels is a lot simpler, which enables the cost to be a lot lower than mono panels.
Polycrystalline solar panel systems are typically cheaper than a monocrystalline solar panel systems, as poly panels can be between 5-10% less efficient.
However, in the long term, you will see a difference in your investment with polycrystalline solar panels due to their lower up-front cost and with the efficiency rates steadily increasing.
Polycrystalline panels’ average cost in 2020 was between $0.40-$0.60 per watt.
The raw material is the same, meaning the difference between mono and poly solar panels is the way that they are made.
Monocrystalline panels are created by slicing a large crystal into very thin silicon wafers – hence their name “monocrystalline”. Polycrystalline cells are formed when molten silicon is poured onto rods or cast into ingots. Crystals grow on the outside of these pieces, and when they are sliced up to create cells.
What both have in common is a material called silicon, as well as sunlight striking them at high angles. Monocrystalline tend to be more efficient than polycrystalline solar cells, due to their higher light absorption rate per square inch.
Both these solar cell technologies are pretty much the same and both have pros and cons, so this depends entirely on what roof type you have and how much energy you are wanting to produce.
Mono panels are better for generating a large amount of energy from your solar panels, but poly solar cells will be more suited to those who don’t need as much power.
When comparing monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels, mono often comes out on top due to having one less layer which means you can install them faster and cheaper!
Whilst, polycrystalline’s biggest advantage over its counterpart is that these PV cells are more affordable, and can still be almost as efficient!
The final type of solar cell is a thin film, which is mostly used for photovoltaic solar power.
With solar panel technology, thin-film panels were created using photovoltaic materials such as copper, cadmium, amorphous silicon, or gallium, instead of the typical silicon fragments. Thin films have a variety of useful properties which make them an attractive alternative to traditional solar cells.
Thin-film solar panels are not as efficient as traditional silicon wafer-based ones, but they have many advantages that make them attractive for certain applications.
Due to their lower efficiency rate of 7-10% and how they are easily produced, thin-film solar cells are often relatively low-cost.
Solar panel manufacturers recommend using mono or polysilicon cells for residential housing, as thin-film panels have a lower power output that will need more roof space to make up for the electricity lost in comparison with silicon panels.