Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels : Which is Best?

  • Aug 26th 2018

First off, there is no simple answer to this question. What is best for a certain project under specific conditions might very well not be best for an other project. You have to decide for yourself what is most important in your case. The key considerations are cost, performance, operational environment and space efficiency. To make it easier for you to decide we will list the details for these key considerations below. Hopefully, this information will make it easier to decide who wins the mono vs poly solar panel fight.

  1. Performance - Monocrystalline solar cells (mono-Si), also called single-crystalline silicon (single-crystal-Si) are the most effective with a conversion of 18-22%. Polycrystalline solar cells also known as polysilicon (p-Si) and multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si) only have a efficiency of 13-16%
  2. Space efficiency - Directly derived from their respective conversion rate Polycrystalline solar cells will need a larger area to be able to produce the same amount of electricity as monocrystalline solar cells.
  3. Cost efficiency - Monocrystalline solar cells are more expensive. The manufacturing process is more expensive and requires a higher grade silicon which is more costly. On the other hand, monocrystalline solar panel got a slightly longer life span than polycrystalline solar panels.
  4. Operating conditions - Both mono- and poly-crystalline solar panels will be less efficient at high temperatures. Monocrystalline cells is slightly less affected by heat than polycrystalline cells though. Monocrystalline cells are on the other hand more affected by shade and dust, they need better conditions than polly crystalline cells to work optimally.
  5. Eco friendliness - Since we are all about green living here at Jungle Sentry we would also like to add that the manufacturing of polycrystalline panels is slightly more friendly to the environment. Monocrystalline panel manufacturing tend to produce more waste silicon than polycrystalline.

Conclusion

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels, which should win? Well, it all depends on what you value the most for your specific project. If space is not a factor we recommend going with poly-crystalline panels as they are the cheapest. You will get more Watt per Dollar under normal circumstances. If performance and quality are the most important or if the working temperatures are really high we would recommend mono-crystalline solar panels. Read more about how solar energy works here. We have two other articles about portable solar panels: The Best Solar Panel Chargers for Camping and Best Solar Chargers for Backpacking