What is the Difference Between Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline Solar Panels - Nature's Generator

What is the Difference Between Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Let’s take a quick look at the history of solar energy and solar panels, as well as the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.


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Now that you’ve got Nature’s Generator in mind as your home power backup. Let’s take a look at one of the essential parts of your set-up—the solar panels.

What are solar panels?

Solar panels or PV panels are needed to utilize the sun’s gift. It is through these panels that people can gather the energy given by the sun and use them as electricity. They are available in blue or black, aesthetic-wise. 

Besides residential usage, solar panels are also used in telecommunications, remote sensing, and remote power systems.  

In this post, we’ll discuss the two most popular and commonly used types of solar panels in the market. These are polycrystalline solar panels and monocrystalline solar panels. They provide the same function but it is in the material used to build them that they differ. 

The History of Solar Panels

The history of solar energy is a story of technological advancement and innovation. In its purest form, humans have been using the sun’s energy since time immemorial such as drying clothes or tools. 

But it was around 1839 when French scientist, Edmond Becquerel, first discovered the photovoltaic effect. He noticed that electrons can move freely across a material when they’re excited. This effect produces a current. 

The first solar panel was created by Charles Fritts in 1883. His invention launched a movement that aims to produce solar energy. What he did was spread a thin layer of selenium with a thin layer of gold. It resulted in cells that had a 1% conversion electrical efficiency. 

But despite these advances, it was only when Albert Einstein wrote and published a paper about the power of solar that people started taking more interest in solar energy. He noted about these light particles, which we’re quite familiar with today as “photons.” His paper led to the invention of solar cells and modern semiconductor technology. 

This paper won Einstein a Nobel Prize in 1922.  

From the 1950s to 1970s, breakthrough discoveries and inventions were made in the field of solar energy. The 1% energy efficiency when it was discovered increased to 4% thanks to Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin. The US government even funded studies into solar cell technology. Unfortunately, solar panels were too expensive to be used by the masses during this period. 

But seven decades of continued research and development made solar energy’s cost more affordable. More people can use it for their day-to-day use. In the 1950s, silicon PV cells cost $76/ watt. But in 2021, this is available for $0.20/watt.

Two Common Types of Solar Panels

Now that we’ve got the history of solar energy and panels out of the way, let’s discuss the two main types of solar panels you’ll encounter once you decide on using this form of renewable energy. 

There are monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels. Both are used to produce electricity by capturing energy from the sun with a few key differences which are the following: 

  • How they are made and the material used 

Both are made from silicon. But their difference can be easily deciphered from their root words ‘poly’ and ‘mono.’

Polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple silicon crystals. The crystals are then melted and molded into square shapes. Meanwhile, monocrystalline solar panels are produced from a single silicon crystal. (Nature’s Generator Power Panel is monocrystalline.) The crystals are done in a cylindrical shape. 

Both panels are then sliced into thin wafers to create solar cells.

  • Energy Efficiency

The monocrystalline solar panels come in black while the polycrystalline panels are available in blue. 

Polycrystalline has a lower energy efficiency which is between 15% to 17% while its counterpart has a 17% to 20% efficiency. Thus, it makes monocrystalline solar panels more efficient as they require less space to generate the same amount of electricity when using polycrystalline solar panels. This is because electrons can move more freely.

For example: 

A panel is usually 17.6 square feet in size.

If you have 20 panels of monocrystalline, you’re able to produce 7kW but with polycrystalline, you can only get 6kW. 

  • Temperature Sensitivity 

The monocrystalline panels work effectively with temperature changes and during warm weather. It has the least heat tolerance. It means that the monocrystalline is more efficient when the temperature goes high. Meanwhile, polycrystalline panels are more sensitive to higher temperatures. 

  • Cost

Polycrystalline solar panels cost less because their production is less complex compared to monocrystalline. 

So, if you have a huge space, polycrystalline may be a good option to think of because of its price. It may be more cost-effective for you to go this route to meet your energy requirement and demand when it comes to your home power backup.

Both panels can be used for more than twenty-five years with proper maintenance, of course. They may have their differences but both of them will help you reduce your electric bill in the long run. 

In general, these panels can be mixed and matched depending on your needs. But is not highly recommended because of their key differences. It is best to reach out to your local electrician if you want to go this route. 

You may also encounter thin-film solar panels when you’re in the market looking for solar panels. This is the go-to panel for boats and camping. (This is also known as second generation solar panels while the poly and mono panels are first generation panels.) 

It is made from photovoltaic material instead of crystalline solar cells. But the material used also made them less efficient when it comes to producing energy, unlike its two counterparts. You’re going to require a lot of space to produce the same amount of kilowatt-hours as the two above. 

But with this information in mind, the choice is yours at the end of the day. It is about your preference, budget, and space when deciding the best solar panel that suits you. 

If you want or need more help and information in choosing the right panels for your whole home power solution just send us a message and we’ll assist you further.



* We want to give credit where credit is due. Professional writer, Cris Ilao, contributed research and content to this blog titled: What is the Difference Between Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline Solar Panels Thank you, Cris, for your contributions!