Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline

This monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels guide will discuss the pros and cons of these conventional but prevalent panels.

Contents

Sunlight shines on the semiconductor P- N junction to form a new hole-electron pair. Under the action of the P-N junction electric field, holes flow from the N zone to the P zone, and electrons flow from the P zone to the N zone, and the circuit is formed Current. 

This is the working principle of photovoltaic effect solar cells. So the silicon is the core martial of the solar panel.

What is Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels?

The main difference is the silicon solar cells manufacturing process: the solar cells of monocrystalline silicon solar panels are made of monocrystalline silicon, and the solar cells of polycrystalline solar panels are melted together by many silicon fragments.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels details

Use the Cheklaussky process to manufacture monocrystalline cells. This method was developed by Polish scientist Jan Czochralski in 1916 when he was studying the crystallization rate of various metals. This method melts polysilicon, introduces a seed crystal, and then pulls the crystal upward to form a uniform silicon rod without impurities. The cone-shaped rod is then cut into individual cells with rounded corners to minimize waste.

Because each cell is cut from a single crystalline silicon ingot that the Monocrystalline solar panels cells appear pure black.

In other words, monocrystalline panels are highly efficient. When this type of solar panels in high heat and lower light environments, their output attenuation is not much. So despite unsatisfactory conditions, their performance is still excellent.

But there are more wasteful than other types in the manufacturing process, because of the monocrystalline panels are cut form square silicon wafers, the corners should be shaved off in order to make a unique cell shape.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels details

Polycrystalline solar cells consist of multiple pieces of silicon mixed together. Mold and process small amounts of silicon to make solar cells. This process is less wasteful because almost no raw materials are discarded during the manufacturing process.

The blended makeup of the cells gives poly panels their iconic blue color. If you look at them up close, you’ll see the texture and color is uneven due to the way the cells are made.

The mixed makeup of the cells makes poly panels look blue. If you observe them up close, you will find that the texture and color are uneven distribution due to the way the cells are made.

Polycrystalline panels also start as a silicon crystal ‘seed’ placed in a vat of molten silicon. However, rather than drawing the silicon crystal seed up as with monocrystalline, the vat of silicon is allowed to cool. It is the cooling that forms the distinctive edges and grains within the solar cell.

Polycrystalline panels also began by putting silicon crystal “seeds” into a bucket of molten silicon. However, instead of pulling the silicon seed like monocrystalline silicon, let it cool. It is the cooling that forms the unique shapes in the solar cell.

Before 2017, the efficiency of polycrystalline cells was slightly lower, so they were considered inferior to monocrystalline cells. However, due to their cheaper production methods and slightly lower efficiency, they occupy a large market share in residential installations.

Now, in terms of efficiency, polycrystalline cells are very close to monocrystalline cells.

Pros and Cons of Monocrystalline

Big price range within mono panels

The most notable thing about the pricing of monocrystalline panels is the huge price premium commanded by the best mono brands – SunPower, LG, and Panasonic.

At the wholesale levels, these panels are in the 75 cent- $1 per watt range. This is a huge 50-100% premium over Chinese Tier 1 panels that are of similar build quality, and only slightly less efficient.

The price range within the mono panel is large

The most noteworthy thing about the price of monocrystalline panels is the huge price premiums demanded by the best mono brands-SunPower, LG and Panasonic.

At the wholesale level, the prices of these panels range from 75 cents to $1 per watt.

Highest efficiency

Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency because they are made of the highest-grade silicon, and once the electrons are excited by the sun, their single-cell structure produces the least resistance to the flow of current.

The efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels may continue to improve.

The Sunpower X22 series monocrystalline solar panel has a maximum efficiency of 22%, which is the most efficient residential solar panel available in recent years.

In last year, Longi and Trina Solar both announced new world records for their special types of monocrystalline cells.

Although the Trina battery has not yet entered the production model, it claims that its battery efficiency exceeds 24%.

Suitable for small roofs

Monocrystalline silicon solar panels save space. Their higher efficiency means they produce more electricity per square area. This means they can generate the same amount of energy as polycrystalline batteries on large roofs.

Longevity

The Monocrystalline panel is longevity. Most solar panel manufacturers provide a 25-year warranty on their monocrystalline solar panels. Since solar panels are made of crystalline silicon, a stable material, the service life of these solar panels is likely to be longer than 25 years.

High heat performance better

Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in warm weather. With all solar cells, electricity production falls as temperature goes up. However, this degradation of output is less severe in monocrystalline panels than polycrystalline solar panels.

However, in practice, the difference is very small. The level to which production from each type of solar panel falls as temperature increases is called the temperature coefficient and is detailed with the specifications for each panel.

Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient at room temperature. For solar modules, the efficiency will decrease as the temperature rises.

The level at which the output of each solar panel decreases with increasing temperature is called the temperature coefficient, and it specifies the specifications of each solar panel.

But the output degradation of monocrystalline solar panels is not as serious as that of polycrystalline solar panels.

The most expensive solar panel

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive. However, in recent years, as more and more polycrystalline solar cell manufacturers transform their ingot furnaces into monocrystalline cells, the cost premium of monocrystalline solar panels has been lower than that of polycrystalline solar panels.

Pros and Cons of polycrystalline

Cost-effective

The process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and costs less.

Higher heat resistance

Compared with solar cell modules made of mono cells, polycrystalline solar panels tend to have a higher temperature coefficient. This means that as the heat increases, the output of such cells will decrease by less power. However, in reality, these differences are small.

Less efficient

The efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels is usually 15%. Due to the lower silicon purity, polycrystalline solar panels are not as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels.

This means that you will need to cover a larger surface to output the same electrical energy as a solar panel made of monocrystalline silicon.

Aesthetics

Compared with the speckled blue color of polycrystalline silicon, the appearance of monocrystalline solar panels is more uniform, so they tend to be aesthetically satisfying.

Monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels: which are right for you?

Price of monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar modules in 2020?

On average, the cost of a residential solar system using monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels is US$3.5 per watt, while the cost of a typical 5 kW system is US$17,513.

After applying for the federal solar tax credit, the cost of solar installation using monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels has dropped to $12,960.

By this year, there is no longer a significant price difference between the two different types of panels

In terms of wholesale, monocrystalline and polycrystalline modules in this category-Longi, Canadian Solar, Trina Solar or Jinko are all around 50 cents per watt.

When it comes to China’s Brands solar panels, the price difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon panels is now only 1-2 cents per watt.

The aim of you invest in solar energy is saving money or earn money. Solar power can help you reduce electricity fees. There are several tips that can help you choose the right types of solar panels.

solar panels Brands

Today choosing between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is not your most important choice when buying solar panels. In fact, all solar panel quotes you get may use monocrystalline solar panels more.

An excellent solar panel brand comes from a company that has invested heavily in the quality and reputation of the manufacturing process.

So choose a more trustworthy brand of the sellers who quote to you is important.

Installation

It is extremely important that you choose a good quality local solar installation company to install the solar system for you. And you should compare the prices and reputation of the installation companies in your area.

However, the install space should be care. If your roof space if is not very large, I highly recommend you choose the monocrystalline and choose a good brand ensure that can generate more electricity. Vice versa, if you have a lot of roof space or are installing ground-mounted solar panels, then lower-efficiency polycrystalline can be cost-effective option.

Solar financing

The way you plan to finance your photovoltaic system may also affect your choice of solar panels. For example, if you purchase a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement), you will pay for the electricity generated by the system per kilowatt hour.

This means that, in addition to your photovoltaic equipment type, your savings will depend on your monthly payment. On the other hand, if you want to buy your own PV system, investing in the superior efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels may bring a better return on investment.

Other new solar panel technologies

In 2020, researchers at the NREL Laboratory in Colorado announced that they have developed a solar cell that uses concentrated sunlight to achieve a conversion efficiency of 47.1%, while using non-concentrated sunlight can achieve a conversion efficiency of 39.2%. This is a six-junction cell, but it is worth noting that it contains layers of different types of semiconductor materials.

This suggests that because the battery may contain multiple layers of different materials, the examples of single crystal and polycrystalline may become blurred in the future.

Thin-Film Solar Cells

Thin-film solar cells because they are made of very thin layers of semiconductor materials, such as cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium diselenide. The thickness of these cell layers is only a few microns.

Thin-film solar cells are both flexible and lightweight, making them ideal for portable applications, such as in soldiers’ backpacks, or in other products, such as windows that generate electricity from the sun. Certain types of thin-film solar cells also benefit from manufacturing techniques that require less energy and are easier to scale up than silicon solar cells.

This type of solar cell conversion efficiency is very low, so It ‘s not suitable for your PV system.

Next-Generation Solar Cells

Solar cell researchers at NREL and elsewhere are also seeking many new photovoltaic technologies, such as solar cells made of organic materials, quantum dots, and hybrid organic-inorganic materials (also called perovskites). These next-generation technologies may provide lower cost, easier manufacturing, or other benefits. Further research will see if these promises can be realized.

The development of technology is endless, I hope they can develop better photovoltaic technology to benefit mankind. And there are some reference resources below.

Additional Resources

For more information about solar photovoltaic energy, visit the following resources:

Solar Photovoltaic Technology BasicsU.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Energy Kids: Solar PhotovoltaicU.S. Energy Information Administration

Energy Saver: Using Solar Electricity at HomeU.S. Department of Energy

Photovoltaic Research at NREL

Frank Cheung
Frank Cheung

A blogger interested in solar and LED lighting. He studies how to make people's lives greener and more environmentally friendly. Also served as a faculty member for non-profit organizations.