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Solar Panels

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

The difference between monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar cells is simply that one is produced from a single crystal of silicon and the other is produced from a piece of silicon consisting of many crystals.

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels look different.  Monocrystalline cells will usually have a perfectly uniform appearance and polycrystalline cells will appear “grainy”. On the left below is an example of a monochrystalline PV panel, on the right, a Polychrystalline panel

Monochrystalline PV Cell

Polychrystalline PV Cell

Solar Panel Performance

Since polycrystalline cells contain many crystals, they have a less perfect surface than monocrystalline cells.  This means that they absorb slightly less solar energy and produce slightly less electricity per square metre. On the plus side, the process of creating the silicon for a polycrystalline cell is much simpler, so these cells are generally cheaper per square metre.

On balance, the cost of monocrystalline vs polycrystalline based panels per Watt of power output works out about the same, but the polycrystalline panels will be slightly larger than equivalent monocrystalline panels.  This is generally not a problem unless you have a very limited area available for the installation, in which case you will want to maximise the power output per square metre.

So which should I choose?

At the end of the day, unless you are very space constrained, your choice of panel will probably be dictated by factors other than whether they are made up of mono or polycrystalline cells.

The price per Watt is an important factor, and that is largely unaffected by the choice of monocrystalline versus polycrystalline cells.  In some circumstances, the area available for the installation may be a factor that pushes you to go for monocrystalline cells.

But the most important thing is to make sure that you choose a reputable installer and manufacturer.  Your panels will most likely give you many years of trouble free operation, but for your own peace of mind you will probably want to choose a manufacturer that is likely to be around for long enough to honour the terms of the guarantee – which may be up to 25 years!