In  Solar

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels

By [email protected] | May 11, 2021

Monocrystalline solar panels contain cells that are cut from a single crystalline silicon ingot. The composition of these cells is purer because each cell is made from a single piece of silicon. By contrast, the composition of polycrystalline solar panels is not pure, because each cell is made up of various amounts of several different crystals. For instance, some cells are made using n-type, others are made using p-type, and others are made using both types. These different varieties of solar cells are called “polytype” solar panels.

The disadvantage of using polycrystalline solar panels, though they may be cheaper, is that the cell areas are much less effective. Most polycrystalline solar panels are made using processes such as the float-zone method, in which silicon ingots are melted, solidified and pulled up in thin, flat laminations. These pieces are then sawed into a wide range of shapes, including tubes, flat sheets and wafers, and rolled or pressed into sheets. Each process will result in a different shape or size for a solar cell. Most conventional polycrystalline solar panels require some type of cell cutting and then grinding and polishing of the edges, to improve the electrical and structural integrity of the solar cell. 

In contrast, mono panels are slightly more efficient than poly panels. They also perform better in high heat and lower light environments, which means they will produce closer to their rated output in less than ideal conditions. However, they cost more to produce and that higher cost is passed on to the buyer. Mono panels are a bit more expensive than poly panels of the same wattage.

Mono vs. Poly Solar Cells: Quick Facts

  • Polycrystalline solar cells are blended from multiple silicon sources and are slightly less efficient.
  • Monocrystalline solar cells are more efficient because they are cut from a single source of silicon.
  • Thin-film technology costs less than mono or poly panels, but is also less efficient. It is mainly used in large-scale commercial applications.
  • Additionally, PERC Cells add a reflective layer to give the cell a second opportunity to absorb light.
  • Half-cut cells improve solar cell efficiency by using smaller ribbons to transport electrical current, which reduces resistance in the circuit.
  • Bifacial solar panels absorb light on both sides of the panel.
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