It’s a question every solar super-optimizer asks: are monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels better for a rooftop solar system?
Solar panels can add value to your home and decrease energy consumption by reducing your monthly electric bill. However, they can be a costly upfront investment, making it vital for you to maximize your return. How do mono and poly solar panels differ in performance and cost, and is one type better for your needs?
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What Is the Difference Between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels?
Solar panels use solar cells (also known as photovoltaic cells) to capture solar energy and convert it into electricity. Solar cells are composed of raw silicon wafers shaped into a uniform size.
There are multiple types of solar panels, and each kind performs the same function, which comes down to capturing solar energy and converting it into electricity. The real difference is the composition of the technology used to perform that function: the type of silicon in the solar cell.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar cells are made of a single silicon crystal, giving them a uniform structure and a high level of purity. This results in higher efficiency than polycrystalline solar cells along with a sleek black look. However, they are more expensive, meaning they aren’t suitable for many homeowners.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The silicon in polycrystalline solar panels comes from multiple sources, which gives them an uneven blue color. The manufacturing process is much easier and less wasteful, as it utilizes smaller bits of silicon. This makes them less expensive than monocrystalline cells but also reduces their efficiency.
What is the Lifespan for Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline Solar Panels?
When we talk about the lifespan of solar panels, we refer to how long they can produce electricity at a minimum level of efficiency. Solar panels can last for decades, but their energy production declines steadily over time. Monocrystalline panels are expected to produce at higher efficiencies for longer periods of time than polycrystalline panels, but the technology just isn’t old enough to say this definitively.
Most manufacturers offer two warranties on their solar panels: one for performance that covers the first ten years and another for efficiency that covers the first 25 years. Solar panels are expected to lose 10-20% of their efficiency after 25 years and may no longer cover the energy consumption of a household, but they should still produce electricity.
Which Is Better: Mono vs Poly Solar Panels?
Monocrystalline solar energy panels can produce more energy with greater efficiency than polycrystalline solar panels and maintain this lead over time. This means that mono panels can make better use of the limited space on your roof than poly panels can. However, mono panels are more expensive than their poly counterparts.
Monocrystalline Solar Panel Advantages & Disadvantages
- Oldest and most developed technology.
- They usually convert at a higher efficiency.
- They are more space efficient because of their high conversion rates.
- They often look more attractive than poly solar panels.
- They have a long lifespan.
- Works better in full sun.
- They come at a higher price point.
- Not as efficient in the shade.
Polycrystalline Solar Panel Advantages & Disadvantages
- The pricing is much more affordable.
- This is the common choice for the majority of the residential market.
- Works fine in the shade.
- They don’t convert as efficiently as mono solar panels.
- More variation in the manufacturing process.
- Lower space efficiency than mono panels.
- They are not as aesthetically pleasing due to their speckled blue appearance.
Can You Mix Poly and Mono Solar Panels?
Mixing solar panels is possible but not typically recommended due to the different electrical characteristics of the panels. If you have a circumstance in which mixing panels is something you’d wish to pursue, it’s best to consult with an electrician specializing in solar.
Interested in Polycrystalline or Monocrystalline Solar Panels?
If you’re hung up on the differences between mono and poly solar panels, you can relax. Whatever solar system you choose can deliver long-lasting benefits to your finances and the environment. Contact Bell Solar & Electrical Systems if you want to install a solar system for your home or if you want to learn more about the types of solar panels we carry!