Monocrystalline VS Polycrystalline
Author: Dylan Date Posted:1 January 2023
One of the most common comments that our specialist team hear from customers relates to the issue of monocrystalline vs polycrystalline (or ‘multi crystalline’) solar panels. Although mono crystalline panels had the initial advantage of being seen as the superior technology in the Australian market, as time goes on and both technologies improve, it becomes increasingly apparent that the the quality and reliability of the manufacturer is far more important than which of the two technologies is chosen.
Monocrystalline cells are made from a single crystal of ultra pure silicon. They are the original silicon solar cell and they are still the most efficient today. Mono cells are typically a little more expensive since they’re a little more difficult to manufacture. The benefit of mono cells is that they perform slightly better under low light conditions equating to better production on cloudy days versus polycrystalline panels. How much better?. Suffice to say, you may get up to about 0.5% better production per annum using mono cells versus using polycrystalline.
Polycrystalline cells are made up of multiple crystals and are generally less expensive to manufacture than mono cells. The gap in performance has narrowed significantly over the years to the point where they are very close. Since Polycrystalline panels are made up of several crystals, this means that they also absorb less sunlight and produce slightly less than mono cells per metre squared.
Single crystal silicon is more efficient at converting photons to electrons for electricity, the poly-silicon its much less efficient because electrons are captured or generated less efficiently where the crystals of silicon touch. However, even though poly solar panels are not as efficient, they are cheaper to manufacture so they can still be competitive on a $/watt basis. They would just need more area to produce the same amount of electricity as the mono-crystalline panels.
Even though a monocrystalline panel has the potential to last up to 50 years, most warranties only go up to 25 years which polycrystalline panels are able to reach just fine.
Overall, the production process for monocrystalline silicon is mature, and the process for polycrystalline in still maturing. As purity and process tolerances for polycrystalline improves, the performance gaps between the two are narrowing.