As more homeowners are discovering the financial benefits of installing a solar array, it’s essential to understand the applications of different panels. When comparing monocrystalline vs polycrystalline, the two most popular types of solar panels, the design, efficiency, and price can influence your decision.
But how do you know which type is right for you? We’ve compared both of these solar panel types to help you decide. Here’s what you need to know when choosing between monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline: Side-by-Side Comparison
These two types of panels feature different aspects in their design. Check out the chart below for a quick reference on their variations.
|Cost||More expensive||Less expensive|
|Efficiency||More efficient||Less efficient|
|Color||Black hue||Blue hue|
|Lifespan||25 years||25 years|
|Temperature effectiveness||More consistent||Less consistent|
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline: What’s the Difference?
As the name suggests, monocrystalline panels feature a single silicon crystal in each of their cells. This makes them a little more efficient, but at a higher cost. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels use a mixture of several crystals melted together in their cells. While this makes them less efficient, consumers can typically find them at an affordable price.
More noticeably, monocrystalline solar panels come with black cells. In most residential cases, this tends to match house roofs better. However, the black hue can drop efficiency in extreme temperatures. Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, feature a blue hue. This doesn’t typically add aesthetic appeal to a home, but it can help keep efficiency when it gets hot.
Those looking for the most efficient panels will find that monocrystalline absorbs more radiant energy than its counterpart. Its efficiency comes from this pure, single crystal in its cells. Without discrepancy in the crystal, electricity travels easier through the current.
In some cases, monocrystalline panels can have an efficiency rating of 23% or more. This makes them perfect for users with limited roof space or less-than-clear skies.
While polycrystalline panels cost less due to the mixture of crystals in their cells, the design makes it a little more difficult to absorb solar energy. Most panels of this type won’t reach an efficiency rating of 20%. However, for those that have plenty of roof space in a sunny location, the cost-to-efficiency ratio makes them worth considering.
As solar technology continues to improve, we’ve started to see products with great lifespans. When considering monocrystalline vs polycrystalline panels, it’s important to know that both types have a life rating of 20-25 years. With this in mind, it’s safe to know that your investment will substantially outperform its cost.
Although the efficiency of monocrystalline panels looks better than their opposite type, it comes at a cost. The complex process of creating pure crystal cells makes manufacturing a time-consuming task. Those considering monocrystalline solar panels for their home solar array can expect to spend upwards of $300 for a 200W module.
Polycrystalline panels, meanwhile, don’t require such precise manufacturing; all the crystals melt together and enter a mold. Manufacturers simply cut the cells out of the mold for production. Because of the ease of design, users can buy polycrystalline solar panels for less than $200 for a 200W module.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Monocrystalline solar panels are the most popular type of panel used in residential arrays.
- Polycrystalline cells offer varied designs, making their panels more versatile.
- Monocrystalline panels have an efficiency rating of as much as 23% while polycrystalline rarely breaks 20%.
- Because of the complexity of their manufacturing, monocrystalline panels cost nearly 50% more than polycrystalline panels.
- Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have lifespans of 20-25 years, making both types worth the cost.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline: Which Solar Panels Are Better?
When considering monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels, the decision isn’t exactly clear-cut. Although one comes with a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing design, the other makes for a great, affordable option in some cases. So, how do you know which type of panel is right for your needs?
Generally speaking, monocrystalline panels are the better option. They feature a carefully manufactured silicon crystal that can offer some of the best commercial efficiency on the market. They also have a black hue, which blends better with most roofs. And while they might cost more per watt, their 25-year lifespan bolsters their value.
However, if budget is paramount in your decision, it’s hard to beat the price point for polycrystalline solar panels. Those that have ample roof space might find that they can cover their power usage for much less using these types of panels. And because of the blended nature of their cells, they typically have more varied uses, such as with RVs, boats, and unique roof designs.
How to Save Money On Solar Panels
Having compared monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels, you might start gearing up to purchase a home array. However, you can save money on your purchase regardless of which type you choose.
Those that purchase solar equipment for their homes in 2023 can save 30% in the form of a federal tax return. For more information on how this works, check out our guide to the Federal Solar Tax Credit.
You can check for energy incentives from your state and municipality for even more savings. Some states offer rebates on any solar purchases you make. Additionally, you can connect your solar array to your municipal power grid in certain locations for money back on excess energy. The incentives change depending on location, so research what’s available in your area.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline: Further Reading
After taking a look at the differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, it’s easy to see the applications of both. Solar energy finds uses in more than just residential power. For more on how we’re using solar to enhance our lifestyle, check out the articles below.
- Can You Recharge an EV With Solar Power? – As electric vehicles overtake traditional cars, can we make them more efficient with solar energy?
- Can Sono Motors Make Good On Its Affordable Solar-Electric Sion EV? – Here’s what you need to know about the new German automaker and its solar-EV concept.
- A Guide to All of Tesla’s Gigafactories, and Where They Are Located – From electric vehicles to lithium batteries, this article has all you need to know about Telsa’s largest factories.
- The 5 Best Solar Lanterns for the Modern Camper – Whether you’re out on the trail or in an emergency, you can rely on these solar lanterns to work when you need them.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Diyana Dimitrova/Shutterstock.com.