Difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels

At least 9 photovoltaic panels out of 10 on the market are made of silicon cells. In this field, there are two basic types, the differences of which are sometimes not entirely clear: panels with monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells. Although both start from the same chemical element, the results of choosing one model or another are not the same. Thus, we will tell you the main differences between polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels, so that you know which one best suits your needs.

Monocrystalline solar cells, advantages and disadvantages.

Monocrystalline cells are distinguished by their very high purity silicon. For this reason, this type of dark cell is the most efficient, also in terms of space, which in practice translates into smaller installations. They are distinguished by their dark color and rounded edges.

With the highest level of efficiency in the market, which can reach 20%, monocrystalline cells are most suitable for installation in areas where sun exposure is not very high for its high performance under these conditions.

The long useful life of this type of cell, with guaranteed in many cases for 25 years and the ability to operate up to 50, is another of the advantages of monocrystalline panels which, however, also have drawbacks over other alternatives.

Among them stands out the high price of monocrystalline cells, which require more silicon than polycrystallines and which also lead to material losses during the manufacturing process, given the type of cut performed.

In the same way that they are distinguished by their good behavior in situations of low exposure to light, such as cloudy days, polycrystalline cells they tend to perform less at high temperatures, aspect to take into account before choosing this option.

Photo Shutterstock

Polycrystalline panels, cheaper but less efficient.

Solar panels based on polycrystalline cells have a long history in the industry, as their manufacture began in the 1980s. Its biggest advantage over monocrystalline cells is based on a lower cost production process, lowering the final price of these systems.

For this product, silicon is melted and put into molds with which the cells are shaped. With this process, not only is a much smaller amount of this element used, but losses in the production phase are also avoided.

Although these cells are more affordable, they have some drawbacks. The lower heat tolerance of these cells means that they have a lower efficiency than the monocrystalline alternative. In fact, it is estimated that in the panels comprising these cells, the efficiency rate is at most 16%, mainly due to the smaller amount of silicon that they incorporate.

The negative effect of high temperatures on these cells, which makes them even less attractive than monocrystalline cells to users living in hot areas, as well as their lower space efficiency, are also listed as disadvantages of these cells. systems.

So, although the two cells contain silicon, they exhibit different behaviors depending on aspects such as the amount of light or the dimensions needed. Price is another key issue which, as we have seen, increases in the case of monocrystalline cells. However, as the industry matures, production costs are reduced, so the acquisition of photovoltaic panels with these cells becomes more affordable.