Polycrystalline vs Monocrystalline Solar Modules
Most solar modules used today are either polycrystalline or monocrystalline, otherwise known as mono and poly. So what is the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline?
For the sake of brevity, the difference between the two is that monocrystalline is composed of a single crystal of silicon, while polycrystalline is composed of many crystals.
Polycrystalline cells are made by several methods, but most commonly with a cast of molten silicon. When these cells are being created, they cool faster, creating smaller crystals. Polycrystalline cells are easily identified by their fragmented texture that somewhat resembles a granite countertop or shattered glass. Just remember that “poly” means “many,” so it has many crystals.
Though monocrystalline is still more efficient at energy conversion in lab settings, polycrystalline is quickly catching up. Because of this, polycrystalline panels are generally slightly bigger than monocrystalline panels. As technology progresses, the gap between mono and poly continues to shrink. Polycrystalline cells are known to function better than monocrystalline under high-heat circumstances. Though many would automatically assume that monocrystalline cells are better because they are made from single crystals of silicon, it doesn’t necessarily mean a better panel.
There are a few more factors that should weigh in on your decision. It’s important to research to watts generated per square foot, or “WPSF.” Additionally, the power tolerance is something you want to think about before you make a purchase. Solar modules, even when labeled a specific wattage, have some variance. It is common for a model to be within a range of +/- 3%, or +/-5%. If a module has a power tolerance of +/-5%, it may only be able to yield 95% of its nameplate rating.
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