Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels: What You Should Know

Have you wondered whether you should go for mono or poly solar panels? Worry no more because we are here with a solution. We are going to give you all the knowledge you will need on solar cells to make the best decision. Sounds good! But first….

The sun provides us with energy all day long—sunlight powers solar panels through the absorption of heat that produces energy. The amount of energy received depends on many factors, such as where we live, how much cloud cover there is, and even the time of year. If you live in California, you are lucky to have the long sunny days. The definition of solar panels means that they produce electric energy from the sunlight. 

What is a solar array?

The solar array starts with solar cells or photovoltaic cells, then gets grouped to make solar panels.

In this article, we’d like to highlight solar cells. When installing a solar power system for a home or business, choosing between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels is an essential step in planning. But how do you decide which is right for you?  If you plan on buying a house with solar panels, it’s a great choice. First, however, take a keen interest in knowing the type of solar cells.

In this article, we will break down the difference between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar cells and amorphous solar panels. We will look at the costs, aesthetics, efficiency, and more to help you determine the best choice for your solar installation. You’ll get to understand which solar cell is best for commercial-grade solar panels as well. Let’s get into the content and learn about poly panels, silicon solar cells, and poly vs. mono solar panels. 

Let’s examine: 

    • Defining Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels  
    • Monocrystalline Solar Panels 
    • Polycrystalline Solar Panels
    • Key Differences between Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels
    • Solar Panel Cost
    • The efficiency of the solar panels
    • The Temperature Coefficient of solar panels
    • The lifespan and Appearance of solar panels
    • Amorphous Solar Panels
    • So, Are Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline Solar Panels Best for You?

Defining Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels  

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels are the two most common solar energy systems. They both work using photovoltaic cells made of silicon, the same material used in chips for electronic gadgets. The difference between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar cells is in the making of silicon solar cells.

  • Monocrystalline solar panels: Each solar PV cell comprises a single silicon crystal. These are sometimes referred to as ‘mono solar panels.
  • Polycrystalline solar panels: Each PV cell comprises multiple silicon crystal fragments melded together during manufacturing. You may see them called  ‘poly panels.’

Both types of solar panels have the same purpose: converting sunlight into electricity. However, the crystalline silicon structure of individual solar cells affects their performance and appearance. You can identify the type of panel by simply observing the shape and color of its solar cells. 

Monocrystalline Solar Panels 

Monocrystalline solar panels are characterized by their black PV cells with rounded edges. They have a higher conversion efficiency than polycrystalline panels, which produce more kilowatt-hours of electricity. If you install solar panels yourself, but your space is limited, monocrystalline panels will be more productive per square foot. However, if you buy a house with solar panels, get to know the panels used and if they are efficient for your needs.

While monocrystalline solar panels are the efficient ones, they are also the most expensive since the manufacturing process of single-crystal silicon solar cells is more complex.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels have blue-hued PV cells with straight edges. Therefore, they have a lower efficiency than monocrystalline panels to reach the same power output. However, polycrystalline panels also have a lower price since they are more straightforward.

Polycrystalline panels, also known as poly panels, are very durable. However, they also tend to last for a slightly less period of time than monocrystalline panels. High temperatures also affect them more, which reduces their productivity on the hottest days. Therefore they cannot be counted on as commercial grade solar panels. 

To properly know the definition of solar panels, you need to understand a solar array. The solar array starts with solar cells, then gets grouped to make solar panels.


(Source: Semantic Scholar)

Key Differences between Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Now that you know the basics of mono vs. poly solar panels let’s see the performance of each type of solar panel technology. The following table summarizes the most crucial difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells. 

FactorMonocrystalline Solar CellsPolycrystalline Solar Cells
Silicone ArrangementOne pure silicon crystalMany silicon fragments melded together
CostMore expensiveLess expensive
AppearancePanels have a black huePanelsThishave a blue hue
EfficiencyMore efficientLess efficient
Lifespan25-40 years20-35 years
Temperature CoefficientLower temperature coefficient,

making them more efficient in heat

Higher temperature coefficient,

making them less efficient in heat

Solar Panel Cost

The cost of the solar panels is mainly determined by the silicon structure of each solar panel. To produce polycrystalline panels, manufacturers must simply pour molten silicon into square molds, then cut the resulting wafers into individual cells. 

On the other hand, to produce single-crystal solar cells, the solidification of silicon has to be controlled very carefully. Moreover, the complex manufacturing process makes the mono panels more expensive.

There are some things  that you should keep in mind regarding the cost of solar panels; 

  • The cost of inverters, wiring, electrical protections, racking, and labor is the same for both solar panel types.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher cost when compared to only the panels.
  • Because monocrystalline panels are more efficient, you may get a better return on your investment.
  • As a homeowner, you are eligible for the federal tax credit and incentives whether you choose mono or poly panels.


(Source: Research Gate)

The Efficiency of the Solar Panels 

As you’ve read above, monocrystalline solar panels have higher efficiency. However, this does not mean that polycrystalline solar panels are inferior products. You can find high-quality solar panels of both types. Here are facts about the efficiency of mono and poly panels;

  • The higher the efficiency of solar panels, the more significant percentage of sunlight is converted into electricity.
  • As of 2021, researchers found polycrystalline panels to have typical efficiencies below 20%. The best monocrystalline panels are approaching 23%.
  • Since their efficiency is lower, you will need more polycrystalline panels to reach a specific kilowatt-hour output per month.
  • All solar panels suffer a temporary efficiency drop when their temperature increases, but monocrystalline solar cells are less affected by heat.

The Temperature Coefficient of Solar Panels

The temperature coefficient of solar panels indicates how many solar panels are affected by temperature. All solar panels are factory-tested under the same Standard Test Conditions (STC) to ensure a fair comparison.

In general, polycrystalline solar panels tend to have higher temperature coefficients, which means they lose more productivity when they heat up. However, as technology improves, affected output solar boards of both types have low-temperature coefficients.

Solar panel efficiency is not a critical factor when plenty of space is available. Since polycrystalline panels have a lower price, installing more to compensate for the lower efficiency is not a problem. However, installing more panels is not an option when you have limited space, so monocrystalline panels will maximize electricity production in the available area.

The Lifespan and Appearance of Solar Panels

Their silicon structure also determines the appearance of solar cells since it picks how they interact with sunlight and how they are perceived by human eyesight. The single-crystal design of monocrystalline cells gives them a black color, while polycrystalline cells are blue.

Both solar panel types have a long lifespan, with a 5-8 years payback period. Solar manufacturers usually offer a 25-year power production warranty, but some brands now come with 30-year warranty coverage.

Mono and poly panels are the most popular for homeowners. There is one category of panels that we want to introduce you to;


(Source: SEIA)

Amorphous Solar Panels

You should know about Amorphous cells because they offer higher efficiency than mono and poly panels. They are your most efficient cell in the market today, although they require twice as much surface area for the same power output as a monocrystalline panel. However, they are more flexible and can handle higher temperatures better.

Amorphous cells are constructed from a fine silicon layer, enabling solar panels to be more flexible and lightweight. Compared to poly or monocrystalline cells, amorphous cells can withstand higher temperatures without output being affected.

 Amorphous cells perform better in low light conditions than even the most efficient monocrystalline panels. They can conversely absorb a wider band of the visible light spectrum due to the uni-solar triple-junction cell technology.

So, Are Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline Solar Panels Best for You?

Each type of solar panel has its pros and cons. However, you can get an excellent return on investment with both. Now that you have the differences between the mono and poly solar panels, consider the following factors when picking one for your home to make your choice easier.

If you want solar panels with color, remember that mono panels are black, while polycrystalline panels are blue. 

The exact dimensions of home solar panels depend on their brand and manufacturer. Therefore, space is essential as you shop for solar panels. The typical sizes are 65 inches by 39 inches, equivalent to 17.6 square feet per panel, but monocrystalline panels offer more watts per square foot. 

Here is how you can install more kilowatts in a given area by using monocrystalline panels:

  • You may find that a polycrystalline panel produces 300W, while an equally-sized monocrystalline panel produces 350W.
  • If you have space for 20 of them, you will reach 7 kW with the monocrystalline panels but only 6 kW with the polycrystalline panels.


(Source: EEPower)

Look at Your Financing Options

Polycrystalline solar panels are more affordable, but monocrystalline panels are more productive. If you have access to a solar loan with favorable interest rates, you can finance your solar installation and pay the loan off with the money you save on utility bills. In this case, the extra cost of monocrystalline panels is not an issue.

Also, make sure you compare several solar quotes. Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive individually, but you must also consider other system components and installation costs. There may be cases in which a completed installation with monocrystalline panels is cheaper, even if a single panel costs more.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mono and Poly Panels

Which is more expensive- monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline?

When comparing the price of individual solar panels, monocrystalline products are more expensive. However, when comparing quotes for completed solar systems, you may find similar costs per kilowatt among both technologies. It is because, due to their high-efficiency rates, you’ll need to buy fewer mono panels overall.

What is the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels?

Polycrystalline solar panels have blue cells made of multiple silicon crystals, and they are less efficient but more affordable. On the other hand, monocrystalline panels have black cells made of single crystals, and they offer higher efficiency at a higher price.

What is the price difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels?

The price difference between mono and polycrystalline solar panels varies depending on the exact solar panel models being compared. However, the price difference is generally comparable to the efficiency difference. For example, monocrystalline panels are around 20% more efficient, costing about 20% more.

There You Have It; You Have All the Information You Need to Know on the Different Solar Cells

Now you know the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Both monocrystalline and poly solar cells have specific pros and cons, which means the better choice for you will depend on your particular project. For example, monocrystalline panels are recommended when there is limited space and are willing to make a significant investment to achieve top efficiency. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels are recommended to reduce upfront costs, and when space is not limited.

Investing in solar energy adds value to your home. Most people prefer buying a house with solar panels. It saves them the hustle of installing solar panels. However, you must hire a reliable solar installation company to ensure that your solar is efficient.

When you hire a professional solar provider, they will be able to explain the mono vs. poly solar panels. To make the right decision, you have to know how much energy you use at home. It will help if you get a recommendation for solar panels that fits your needs. Then, you will apply energy-saving tips that will help save energy and hence use less electricity.

Enlightened Solar is a solar installation company in Orange County, California. We value our clients, and we have constantly built our trust with them. We understand the value solar panels bring to your home, so we make this journey valuable. 

Contact us for a quote!