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The Difference Between Mono and Poly Panels and Which are Right For You?

Jessica PirroMay 20, 20192900

Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline, also more commonly called mono and poly, are two of the most popular types of solar panels in the market today. They have shared the podium for being the most popular type of solar panel used for residential solar.

A few years ago mono was the most commonly used type of solar panel used in America for residential solar. However, in the past three years, poly solar panels have taken the lead. Today poly is the most widely used type of solar panel used in America for residential solar installs.

Both Mono and Poly are types of solar cells that are made from crystalline silicon. Almost all quotes you receive on solar panels for your home will be crystalline solar panels.

While the choice between mono and poly isn’t something that should have homeowners stressing over, it is important to know all of your facts before making a big purchase.

Mono and poly are two types of solar panels that are similar when it comes to performance reviews. Though the two are similar there are differences between the solar panel types.

Monocrystalline

Mono solar panels are older than poly so they have more developed technologies. The mono panels are developed from a single continuous crystal structure. You can visually identify a mono solar panel because the solar cells appear to be a single flat color.

This type of solar panel is made by the Czochralski method. This method is when a silicon crystal ‘seed’ is placed on a vat of molten silicon. The seed is slowly drawn up with the molten silicon and it then forms a solid crystal structure around the seed known as an ingot.

The ingot that is formed is then a finely sliced ingot, which is also known as a silicon wafer. This is what is then made into a cell.

The mono solar panels are the type of solar panel that is known to have the highest efficiency rates. This is due to the fact that they are made out of the highest-grade silicon.

This type of solar panel is also space-efficient. Because this solar panel type produces the highest power outputs, they require the least amount of space in comparison to other types.

The mono panel is also the type of solar panel that is known to produce more power per square foot of space used in an array.

Mono panels also have a long lifespan. The manufacturers will usually put a 25-year warranty on this type of solar panel. Because it is made from crystalline silicon, which is a secure material it will most likely last much longer than their warranty.

Another benefit to this type of solar panel is it tends to perform better in the warm weather.

All types of solar panels electricity production falls when the temperatures rise. But when compared to the poly panel this drop in power is usually less drastic.

The level that each panel drops due to the temperature increasing is called temperature co-efficient and each panel has published specifications.

Though there are praises to be said about mono panels, the cost can deter one from mono panels when they are considering which solar type to purchase.

Monocrystalline Disadvantages

Mono panels are the most expensive type of solar panel and it is what is believed have caused the production demand for the poly solar panels. Though the popularity of poly panels is on the rise, the manufacturer’s still make mono and they are targted to the premium end of the market.

Polycrystalline 

Polycrystalline is a newer technology and the manufacturing process varies.

The start to a poly cell is like the start to a mono. Both types of solar panels begin with a crystal ‘seed’ being placed on a vat of molten silicon. But instead of drawing the seed up the vat, you can just let it cool. This process forms the distinctive edges and grains in the solar cells.   

This solar panel type was once thought to be inferior to the mono cell because they was a slight difference in efficiency. But because the difference in efficiency is so slight and the prices are less expensive these panels are now known as the dominant type of solar panels.

Trina Solar announced in 2015 that they produced a multi-crystalline cell with efficiency of 21.25%. This new development allowed them to produce poly modules that had produced an efficiency between 18-20% that was once thought to be impossible.

Technology has only improved since then. Now, in terms of efficiency, polycrystalline and monocrystalline panles are very similar.

The process to make poly silicon is a lot less expensive and a lot more simple. The amount of silicon waste is also a lot less in comparison to mono panels.

Though the types of solar panels that have the highest performance rating when it comes to heat rising are the mono panels, the poly panels aren’t that far away. The differences in this aspect of the panels is minimal.

Polycrystalline Disadvantages

Because these type of solar panel have a lower silicon purity, than mono solar panels, the efficiency levels aren’t as high.

They also have lower space efficiency. Because poly panels themselves aren’t as powerful as mono panels, you will generally need to cover a larger surface in order to get the same amount of power.

Another disadvantage to poly panels, is most people don’t think that they are as aesthetically pleasing. When it comes to aesthetics, most people prefer mono panels.

Monocrystalline V. Polycrystalline

Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are perfectly able to power your home. Both types of solar panels have their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to which panel the homeowner should purchase it is really based on personal preference.   

Choosing the Right Type of Solar Panel

When going solar, one of the very first things you’ll have to decide is which solar panel is the right choice for you. There are three types you can choose from: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film panels. Polycrystalline panels are the most common, but each type of solar panel has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Keep in mind that no matter which kind of panel you decide is right for you, the most important thing is getting quality panels from companies that care about their manufacturing process and reputation. Keep reading to learn about the three different types of solar panels so you can figure out which one is the right choice for you.

Why monocrystalline may or may not be the right choice for you

Monocrystalline is the oldest kind, and it used to be the number one choice when panels were installed on roofs. They have the highest efficiency rates and require the least amount of space. They will also last a lot longer than other panels, and even though panels get 25-year warranties generally, these types of panels will most likely outlive that lifespan. Unlike most panels, they also increase in their efficiency when it’s hotter outside. The biggest disadvantage to these panels is that they are the most expensive.

Why polycrystalline may or may not be the right choice for you

Polycrystalline is a cheaper but less efficient version of the monocrystalline panels. The efficiency is only slightly lower, though, which is why most solar installations now have polycrystalline panels. Most people would prefer a cheaper panel with a slightly lower efficiency. The amount of waste produced by polycrystalline is also much less than the amount of waste produced by monocrystalline panels, meaning it’s also the greener option. The first disadvantage is that they’re less efficient, being around 14-16% compared to monocrystalline’s 22%. They also have a lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline, meaning if it gets too hot outside, they could begin to fail. They also take up more space and are the least aesthetically pleasing to look at.

So, which one is right for you?

Picking your perfect panel is a personal decision, but there are several factors to keep in mind:

If you want to invest a lot into your solar and want the best efficiency, you’ll probably want to opt for the monocrystalline panels. They’ll last the longest, be the most efficient, and if money isn’t a huge factor for you, you’ll get the most out of them.

If you want a cheaper option, polycrystalline is probably the right choice for you. They’re less efficient, but that won’t outweigh the cost significantly.

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