Monocrystalline versus Polycrystalline Solar Panels | SaveOnEnergy®

Monocrystalline versus Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Which is better?

home with solar panels on the roof

[nattrass]/Getty Images

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels

Installing solar panels on your home is an excellent way to reduce both your energy costs and your carbon footprint. But when you’re planning out your home solar panel system, you’ll have some decisions to make, including what type of solar panels to use. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are two of the most common types of solar panels. Both capture solar energy from the sun and turn it into electricity, but they have some different features you need to know.

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are made of solar cells produced with silicon cut into bars to create thin wafers. The single-crystal silicon is what gives monocrystalline panels their name. The single crystal allows for a more efficient movement of electrons to generate electricity. As a result, monocrystalline solar panels are considered better quality and are generally more expensive than other types of panels. Visually, these panels have a black hue.

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline solar panels have a similar composition that includes silicon. However, polycrystalline panels are made of multiple silicon fragments, not a single cell. Electrons move less efficiently because there are more crystals in the cell, resulting in a slightly lower quality. Unlike the monocrystalline panels that have a black hue, polycrystalline panels have a blue hue.

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel price

One of the differences you’ll notice between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is the price. The process to create monocrystalline solar panels is more in-depth and results in a more efficient product. Polycrystalline panels are considered less efficient and are also less expensive to make. As a result, you can expect to pay more for monocrystalline panels when planning your residential solar panel system

It’s important to note, however, that you are getting an increased quality for the price. So while monocrystalline panels are more expensive to install on your home, they are also more efficient and are likely to result in a better return on your investment.

The average cost of home solar panels is $3 – $5 per watt, for a total average cost between $15,000 and $25,000. The higher the quality of solar panels you buy, the more you can expect to pay. The price also depends on your location and the size of the solar system you need. If you’re a traveler, you can also purchase solar panels for your RV, which tend to be less expensive. 

Whether you decide to go with monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels, you will still be eligible for the solar tax credit (also called the Investment Tax Credit, or ITC), as long as you are purchasing your panels.

Do monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels matter if I’m leasing or using a PPA to get solar panels? 

Rather than buying your solar panels, you also have the option of either leasing them or using a solar power purchase agreement (PPA). In both cases, you’re renting the solar panels. When you are leasing solar panels, you pay a fixed monthly cost. But, in the case of a solar PPA, your monthly rate is based on your electricity generation.

If you choose to lease or use a PPA rather than buying your solar panels, you are still likely to notice a price difference. The company you acquire the solar panels from will have paid more for the monocrystalline panels, and they are still a higher-quality product. As a result, your lease or PPA costs are likely to be higher.

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel efficiency

As we’ve mentioned, the key difference between the performance of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels is their efficiency. The single-crystal structure of monocrystalline panels gives the electrons that generate electricity more room to move around. In comparison, the multiple silicon fragments in polycrystalline panels give them less room to move around. As a result, monocrystalline panels are considered the best solar panels because they are the most efficient type of panels and provide a better return on your investment.

A solar battery is another way to increase the efficiency of your renewable solar energy system. Although a solar battery is not a necessary part of your solar panel system, a battery will allow you to continue to power key elements in your home during a short-term power outage.

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel lifespan

Most solar panels, whether monocrystalline and polycrystalline, have a lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. So, when choosing between the two, this will not be a crucial factor. 

The lifespan of solar panels depends on their degradation, meaning their reduced output over time. The degradation between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels is similar. More important factors include the climate in which you live, how well the panels were installed, how well they’re maintained, and the quality of the materials.

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panel appearance

You’ll likely notice a difference in the appearance of monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels. The single-crystal makeup of monocrystalline solar panels gives them a black hue. The multiple silicon fragments in polycrystalline panels can give them a blue tint. Most people consider the black shade of monocrystalline panels to be more aesthetically pleasing since they have a cleaner, more polished look. Panels can also be purchased as solar roof shingles, which closely resemble traditional asphalt shingles.

Monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels FAQs

Are monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels right for me? Expand / Collapse Toggle

When deciding which type of solar panel to buy, you’ll have to consider your budget and the quality you want. While monocrystalline panels are more efficient, they are also more expensive

Which is better: monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels? Expand / Collapse Toggle

Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient and, therefore, can provide a greater return on your investment. As a result, they are typically considered the best solar panel choice.

What is the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels? Expand / Collapse Toggle

The main difference is that monocrystalline solar panels are made with single-crystal silicon, while polycrystalline panels are composed of multiple silicon fragments.

Are there other types of panels besides monocrystalline or polycrystalline, and what are they? Expand / Collapse Toggle

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are the most popular options, but they aren’t the only ones. Thin-film panels are another solar panel option. Made of glass, metal, or plastic, thin-film panels are typically lighter and more malleable.