What's the difference between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels?
This has been a highly debated topic over the years as to which Solar Panels are the best. In all practical terms there really isn't a clear "Best", it's more of a which one is better for a particular application. First off, a monocrystalline refers to the silicon solar cell being made of one single piece, where as polycrystalline are many silicon fragments melted together.
Monocrystalline panels are more expensive to produce but the panels tend to be smaller and 15-20% more efficient. Polycrystalline panels are in turn cheaper to produce and are generally larger in sized in order to produce the same output when compared to a Monocrystalline panel. While being larger might be considered a drawback to some, Polycrystalline panels are made with a structural frame which generally makes mounting them easier.
Climate can play a role when choosing which panel is right for your application as well. Monocrystalline perform better in hotter regions and in lower light conditions. Polycrystalline panels are less efficient in hotter climates but are less expensive to purchase, so if space isn't a concern; adding more panels will make up for them being less efficient and still have a cheaper initial cost overall.
Life expectancy of Monocrystalline panels by most manufactures is 25-30 years, where Polycrystalline generally have a life expectancy of 20-25 years. This can be a bit misleading though because solar panels might become less efficient after these manufacturer stated time frames, but the panels themselves can last a lot longer than 25-30 years depending on the conditions and climate in which they are placed.
Overall the biggest determining factors in choosing which solar panels are right for your application are budget, available space and climate. If you plan to put solar panels on a roof in a hotter climate, Monocrystalline might be the better option. On the other hand, if you plan on setting up solar panels in a field with a hotter climate, where space isn't a concern; Polycrystalline panels will be more cost effective. It all comes down to application. I have used both panels in different applications and I can tell you that if space isn't an issue Polycrystalline would be my choice due to overall cost. There were a few instances where I chose a Monocrystalline panel, like mounting a single panel to power a street light or a fountain pump, only because space and aesthetic aspects were a concern.
In summary, the fact that you have made a decision to go solar is a win in itself, so deciding between Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline panels is not a make or break factor in my opinion; but rather just a matter of which one suits your budget and space requirements for a given situation.
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Polycrystalline Panel available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hMXmtx