monocrystalline vs polycrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Which is Better?

Solar Panels are devices that convert sunlight, which is composed of energy particles called “photons” into electricity to power various electrical appliances. To ensure optimal performance and long-term savings, choosing the right solar panels becomes essential. Selecting the right choice impacts the efficiency, cost, durability, lifespan, and overall success of the project.

The two main types of traditional solar panels include Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. It is important to know the differences between these two panels which helps you to understand the space requirements, temperature coefficient, appearance and several other aspects. People often confuse themselves if these two panels can be mixed or not by considering numerous significant factors.

What are Monocrystalline Solar Panels?

solar panel monocrystallineMonocrystalline solar panels are derived from cylindrical silicon ingots grown from high-purity single-crystal silicon in the same manner as a semiconductor.

The cylindrical ingots are cut into thin wafers of individual solar cells. Additionally, the circular wafers are trimmed into octagonal shapes to maximize the utility of cells thereby giving a unique visual appeal.

The manufacturing process of monocrystalline silicon PV panels involves these four main steps:

1. Wafer production: The purified silicon from the quartz sand is fabricated using single crystals of silicon through the Czochralski process. A diamond saw is used to slice cylindrical ingots into thin wafers.

2. Cell production: After cleaning the wafers to improve surface properties, the diffusion of the phosphorous layer creates a p-n junction to generate electricity. The metal contacts are applied to the front and back of the cell to collect electricity and anti-reflective coating is applied to minimize reflection and maximize absorption.

3. PV module production: Multiple solar cells are connected in series and parallel to form a string that is encapsulated between front (glass) and back sheets (polymer) to protect the cells from environmental factors. An aluminium or stainless steel frame is added for structural support and mounting. Furthermore, a junction box is attached to the back of the module to provide electrical connections.

4. Testing: The electrical and mechanical testing ensures that the completed modules satisfy the performance and safety standards.

Monocrystalline solar panels possess a uniform black due to their single crystal structure that reflects less light than other types and are often recognized by square-shaped cells. The efficiency rate is between 15 to 24% with $1 to 1.50 per watt. Some common applications of these panels include rooftop solar arrays, portable solar generators and industrial-scale energy production for factories or solar farms.

What are Polycrystalline Solar Panels?

solar panel polycrystalline Also known as the “multicrystalline” solar panels, the polycrystalline types have blue-coloured solar cells that are made from different fragments of pure silicon.

To precisely explain the manufacturing process of polycrystalline solar panels, the raw silicon is melted and poured into a square mould. Upon the cooling process, crystals of varying sizes and orientations are formed in the solid block of silicon which gives a special look to the panels. The silicon block is cut into measured squares that form the individual solar cells which together construct a solar panel. You can also learn more about how solar panel are made in detail.

The surface of the solar panels is box or square-shaped with a shining blue hue made up of several polycrystalline silicon.

Compared to monocrystalline, polycrystalline solar panels occupy more space with less efficiency by 13 to 16%, and they are budget-friendly with a price of $0.90 to $1 per watt approximately.

These panels are commonly used in private or self-powered devices like traffic lights in remote areas, large-scale solar farms, off-grid households and many more…

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Detailed Comparison

Here is a brief comparison of Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels tabulated below based on several factors:

S. No Factors Monocrystalline Solar Panels Polycrystalline Solar Panels
1. Efficiency 15 to 24%  15 to 18% 
2. Cost Higher price  Reasonable
3. Durability  Higher  Lower
4. Lifespan  25 to 40 years   25 to 35 years
5. Temperature Coefficient  Higher  Lower
6. Appearance Dark Black and uniform appearance  Bluish colour and square-shaped cells


Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher efficiency of 15 to 24% than the polycrystalline ( 15 to 18%) and impacts on energy production and space requirements. Panels with higher efficiency like monocrystalline, generate more electricity per square meter.


Monocrystalline solar panels are costly with a price range of $1 to $1.50 per watt and the average cost for a single 400-watt panel is between $400 and $600 approximately. Whereas, Polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper at $0.90 to $1 per watt and $300 for a 400-watt panel.

The national average installation cost for monocrystalline is higher ($5,000 to $8,400) than for polycrystalline solar panels ($4,000 to $6,600). Do you know there are so many reasons why solar panels are expensive?

Monocrystalline solar panels contribute to high energy savings and huge ROI (Return on Investment) in the long run. On the other side, polycrystalline solar panels are the best cost-saving option, and you can gain better ROI as long as you have a larger space for the panels.

Durability & Lifespan

The durability and lifespan of monocrystalline solar panels are higher between 25 and 30 years and the high-quality panels could last upto 40 years.

Though Polycrystalline solar panels have 25 to 35 years lifespan, they have lower durability. It is because these panel’s performance gets diminished in hot climates with lower heat tolerance. Even other factors like Snow, hail and high winds can affect the lifespan.

Temperature coefficient

The rate at which a solar panel’s efficiency decreases when the temperature rises or vice versa is determined through a metric known as the Temperature coefficient. For monocrystalline solar panels, the temperature coefficient is -0.3 to -0.5% per °C, whereas for polycrystalline panels it is -0.4% to -0.5% per °C.

Typically, solar panels work at a moderate temperature of 25 °C. If the temperature rises above the required level, the performance of both monocrystalline and polycrystalline decreases.


Both Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels have different appearances due to the varied silicon structures in the production.

Generally, Monocrystalline solar panels are black and have more uniform looks as the pure silicon cells used give a dark blue hue. Polycrystalline solar panels are bluish due to the presence of multiple silicon crystals combined during manufacturing.

People who are looking for a modern, darkish colour and stylish solar panel design that fits in limited space and performs well, can opt for monocrystalline. Whereas, a few others might prefer the split-up look of polycrystalline solar panels at a cheaper price and can afford to install such types of panels on larger roof spaces. However, the choice varies according to every individual’s personal preference, requirements, space and financial constraints.

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Which Is Right for You?

Here is how you can make the right choice between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels based on these factors:

1. Individual and Energy Requirements: If any individual has high energy requirements they need to prefer Monocrystalline solar panels. Conversely, for moderate energy demand, Polycrystalline solar panels are the most suitable alternative.

2. Aesthetics: Monocrystalline panels are black-coloured and their uniform structure has superior aesthetics. Whereas, Polycrystalline solar panels with blue shade make it less aesthetically satisfying.

3. Budget: If you prefer premium quality performance over a high budget, then Monocrystalline solar panels are the best choice because that has high efficiency and are aesthetically attractive. But, if you plan to install solar panels on a limited budget by getting satisfied with normal performance, then Polycrystalline panels are the ideal alternative.

4. Space: If you have limited space, then fewer monocrystalline solar panels are sufficient since they have higher efficiency to produce the same amount of energy. Contrarily, Polycrystalline require huge space to install a maximum number of solar panels to produce the identical energy of monocrystalline since it has lower efficiency

Overall, Monocrystalline solar panels with an expensive budget can provide superior performance and aesthetics in a limited space. Whereas Polycrystalline solar panels are budget friendly and satisfy moderate energy needs by consuming huge space and aren’t visually attractive.

What are the other types of solar panels?

Additionally, there are other types of solar panels available in the market such as:

1. Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact cells (PERC)

2. Thin-film Solar Panels

  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  • Amorphous silicon (a-Si)
  • Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS)

3. Bifacial Building-Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) Solar Panels

4. Concentrated Solar Panels (CSPs)

5. Hybrid Solar Panels

6. Amorphous Solar Panels

There is a lot more to know about different types of solar panels.

Can you mix Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar cells?

Yes! It is technically possible to mix Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar cells. At the same time, you need to make sure that both panels possess the same electrical characteristics and are securely connected in an array. However, in a few cases, the combination is not generally recommended because of the dissimilar electrical features the other cells offer each panel.

If you’re planning to combine Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar cells, several factors must be taken into consideration such as :

1. Electrical Characteristics: Select the panels with similar voltage and current ratings. The difference between voltage and current ratings should be less than or equal to 25% without any power losses.

2. Performance Degradation: The degradation rates vary for different panels which can affect their performance of the solar array.

3. Inverter Compatibility: The combination of Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline in the same string lowers the output than the inverter’s operating range because of electrical characteristics differences. As a result, you need to check the compatibility with the inverter to get a backup during an inadequate power supply.

4. String Configuration: Configuring the Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline in unlike strings allows you to monitor the maximum output by ensuring rare fluctuations.

Finally, it is advised to consult an expert installer or electrician before combining the Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar cells.

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Ray is an avid reader and writer with over 25 years of experience serving various domestic and multinational private and public energy companies in the USA.

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