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Monocrystalline solar panel vs. polycrystalline – How are they different?

In the solar panel market you are going to hear the terms monocrystalline solar panel or polycrystalline solar panel, what they refer to with these terms, what is the difference between both types of panels. I’ll explain it to you later.

All  solar panels currently on the market have been made with silicon cells,  the second most abundant mineral element in the earth’s crust that is extracted from mines in the form of quartz or similar.

Monocrystalline solar panel vs. polycrystalline – How are they different?

Depending on the transformation process to which we subject the silicon, we will obtain monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells . These cells are what they use to make  two different types of solar panels that still share many characteristics .

The process by which silicon is converted into a solar module is made up of several transformation phases. First of all, the silicon is obtained from the mine and purified. It is then melted in crucibles to obtain ingots, which can be cylindrical to obtain monocrystalline silicon or square to obtain polycrystalline silicon.

In the third phase, the ingots are cut into thin sheets, obtaining through this process wafers, a substrate on which different chemical processes are carried out until the solar cells are generated. Finally, these solar cells are assembled, which are very thin and are connected to each other to form part of the solar panels.

monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline  cells , used since historical times, have been made of high-purity silicon and  stand out for their blackish color and rounded edges . Its most important characteristics are the following:

  • Monocrystalline silicon has  a slower manufacturing process and a high energy cost.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels are very useful for places where there is little solar exposure during the day because they offer  very good performance in low light conditions.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels have a  long service life, between 25 and 50 years.
  • By needing more silicon,  the price of these panels is higher  than the solar panels that have used polycrystalline silicon in their manufacture.
  • Solar panels made with monocrystalline silicon are much  more efficient  than those made with polycrystalline silicon.

polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline silicon cells began to be produced much later than monocrystalline ones. It was  in the 80’s of the 20th century when work began with this material . The most notable characteristics of polycrystalline solar panels are the following:

  • Its  manufacture is faster and cheaper  than that of monocrystalline panels since less mineral is used in its production process than in the transformation process of these panels.
  • Although they are less efficient than monocrystalline panels,  they are the most widespread worldwide in the residential field.
  • When the sun hits them they take on a  dark navy blue color .
  • Polycrystalline panels offer  great speed in the heating process.

What type of panel to choose?

It cannot be categorically assured that one solar panel is better than another, although  depending on the geographical area  in which the  home  or company in which we install the panels is located, it  will be more  efficient to use one type or another depending on the local climate.

For example, it is advisable to install  monocrystalline solar panels in cold climates  in which phenomena such as storms, snow or fog usually occur, because this type of solar panels  absorb solar radiation much better.

On the contrary, it is recommended to install  polycrystalline solar panels in areas with a hot climate.

However and despite everything, monocrystalline solar panels offer a better value for money.