Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Did you ever wonder why some solar panels look different than others? Here is the answer: there are two different manufacturing processes called monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The typical monocrystalline solar cell has a dark black color, and the corners of cells are usually missing as a result of the production process and the physical nature of monocrystalline silicon.

Polycrystalline  Monocrystalline Solar Panels PV

Polycrystalline (left) vs. Monocrystalline (right) Solar Panels

Polycrystalline, on the other hand, is identifieable by its signature light or dark blue colour, but not uniformly so: some patches are lighter than others. The differences in appearance come about as a result of the manufacturing process. (Read more: The manufacturing and science behind solar cells.)

Besides the different look which does not really matter since they are mostly out of your sight, there are some differences in performance:

Monocrystalline Polycrystalline
Typical module efficiency 15-20% 13-16%
Best research cell efficiency 25.0% 20.4%
Area required for 1 kWp 6-9 m2 8-9 m2
Typical length of warranty 25 years 25 years
Lowest price 0.75 $/W 0.62 $/W
Temperature resistance Performance drops 10-15% at high temperatures Less temperature resistant than monocrystalline
Additional details Oldest cell technology and most widely used
Less silicon waste in the production process

Recommended also: Orientation of Solar Panels, A Poster on energy efficiency

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