Solar panels are a great way to lower your electricity bills and your carbon footprint. If you’re considering getting solar panels for your home, you may be wondering what type is right for you.
There are two main types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. In this article, we’ll compare the two so you can decide which one is best for your needs.
There are five key differences between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels:
One of your primary considerations when choosing a solar panel is probably going to be the price. Between the two kinds of panels, monocrystalline is more expensive. Polycrystalline is more affordable.
As you might expect from the price difference, polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient than monocrystalline.
The reason you’re paying a premium for monocrystalline is that they’re made with high-grade monocrystalline silicon. Monocrystalline, meaning the silicon is made up of individual crystals, allows electricity to flow with the least amount of resistance.
Polycrystalline panels are made from silicon that isn’t as pure, meaning it has more crystals that reduce the panel’s efficiency. The efficiency difference is around 15%.
If you’re concerned about the appearance of your solar panels, which you prefer is up to you. Monocrystalline solar panels have uniform black cells while polycrystalline panels have a blue flecked tint to them.
The lifespan of both types of panels is relatively similar. They can last up to and beyond 25 years, making either choice a great investment if your home has a good solar rating. However, monocrystalline panels often come with longer warranties than polycrystalline.
5. Temperature Coefficient
The temperature coefficient refers to the amount of improved efficiency you get in warm weather as well as the heat tolerance of the panels. Monocrystalline is superior in this regard as they have a better temperature coefficient.
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There are a handful of other considerations when choosing between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels. While the differences in the previous section are the most important differences, these considerations deal more with how solar panels fit into your living situation.
1. Individual Preferences
You should certainly consider which aesthetic you like best. You can get solar panels with different colored cells, such as green, but generally, your choice is between black and blue. If you prefer a less flashy look, monocrystalline might be right for you as it doesn’t have the characteristic blue sheen.
2. Space Limitations
Consider your roof space, if you plan on getting roof-mounted solar panels. If you have a small or complex roof with different angles, there’s less room for solar panels as they should sit on the side that gets the most sun. In order to get the most out of your roof space, it might be best to go with monocrystalline solar panels for the efficiency benefit. That way you make up for having to get fewer panels.
3. Weather and Environmental Concerns
This is a category where polycrystalline panels are actually the better choice. If your home or the location at which you will be installing the panels regularly experiences snow, dust, or shade, monocrystalline panels can break down easily. While you can help this problem with a micro-inverter, polycrystalline panels save you the extra expense as they’re more resilient under adverse conditions.
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If you live in a very hot climate, such as a desert, heat, as well as dust, can be a problem. Polycrystalline solar panels are less tolerant of high heat than monocrystalline panels due to the difference in their temperature coefficients.
5. Solar Financing
If you are planning on entering into a financing arrangement for your solar panels, such as a purchase power agreement, you may have to select a certain type of panel according to that agreement. For a purchase power agreement, you pay per kilowatt-hour, so you will want to have a high-efficiency panel. Therefore, you’d want a monocrystalline panel.
The two types of panels also have different primary manufacturers. Monocrystalline is made by SunPower and LG while Polycrystalline is made by SolarWorld and Trina.
Solar energy is a great thing to do. It’s better for the environment than using fossil fuel-powered energy and it can save your bank account from high energy bills. Which type of panel you choose depends on your needs.
If you are primarily concerned about price, polycrystalline might be the better choice as it is cheaper than monocrystalline. However, it’s not as efficient and might not last as long as a monocrystalline panel. Polycrystalline does stand up better to adverse conditions such as snow, dust, and shade.
Monocrystalline is a better investment because of its high efficiency and temperature coefficient, and a micro-inverter will mitigate problems with adverse conditions. However, it has a high upfront cost without financing.
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