When choosing the most appropriate solar PV panel for your project, consumers are faced with many choices on the quality and cost spectrum. In many markets, not just solar, consumers seek the best-possible combination of high-quality at a competitive price… but in doing so, they might overlook their technology options. In solar, it’s important to consider the performance advantages between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.
Simply defined, the material difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline rests in the composition of the silicon substrate used to make solar cells, and in turn solar panels. As the name implies, monocrystalline means “a single crystal,” while polycrystalline means “many crystals.” Large crystal sizes lead to more efficient solar cells, which is why monocrystalline cells are typically 10% to 15% more efficient than their polycrystalline counterparts.
But there’s a catch: because of the silicon casting and wafering process, it costs about 20% more to create solar cells with monocrystalline structures. You could think of monocrystalline like single origin coffee, cultivated from one particular bean varietal, which requires more care and preparation than a blended product. Polycrystalline and multicrystalline silicon panels comprise the vast majority of PV panels sold in the global market.
So, which is better? In fact, the “debate” over whether to choose mutlicrystalline or monocryatlline solar panels is not really a debate at all, but rather a question of the specific goals for a solar system. The answer depends on the location and design parameters of your project, and other factors including local labour costs and utility rate structures.
Generally speaking, polycrystalline panels are ideal for installations with near-unlimited roof or ground space, and regions with lower “soft costs,” including project installation and permitting. They also make sense for owners looking to minimize upfront installation costs. On the other hand, monocrystalline panels are ideal for smaller roof tops or space-constrained properties, as monocrystalline technology produces higher efficiency cells so you get more power onto the same surface area. Monocrystalline panels also feature a lower temperature coefficient, which means that as the panels get hotter they will typically outperform their polycrystalline counterparts.
There are key differences to consider when weighing the benefits of polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels, but the key point to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Solar buyers should be informed of all the technological options and make a choice best suited to a project’s specific energy needs.
That’s why we provide our customers with the option to choose either monocrystalline or multicrystalline panels.