Mono vs Poly solar panels: what is the difference?

Mono vs Poly solar panels: what is the difference?

Most solar panels you see in homes and businesses can be classified into Monocrystalline (Mono) or Polycrystalline (Poly). Both types use photovoltaic cells (PV) made of crystalline silicon, but the difference lies in how these cells are produced. In a mono solar panel, each cell is made of a single crystal, while a poly solar panel has cells made of multiple crystals.

The easiest way to identify the type of solar panel is by looking at its colour. Monocrystalline panels are characterised by their black PV cells, while polycrystalline panels have blue cells.

However, the differences go beyond just their appearance:

  1. Mono solar panels are more efficient, which means they convert a larger percentage of sunlight into electricity. However, single-crystal PV cells are more difficult to produce, making these panels more expensive.
  2. Poly solar panels are less efficient, but they also have a lower price – manufacturing multi-crystalline solar cells is much simpler.

Return on Investment (ROI)

As we live in the Sunburnt country with plenty of rays, both types of solar panel offer an excellent return on investment.

Monocrystalline panels are seen to use roof space more effectively as they convert more sunlight into electricity. However, polycrystalline panels are also viable when space is not a limiting factor.

The exact efficiency of a solar panel will depend on the manufacturer and the specific model. Also, consider that both panel types have improved their efficiency over time. If you compare the latest products from top panel brands from around the globe, Mono solar panels are around 10-20% more efficient than Poly.

Choosing Between Mono and Poly Solar Panels

Since Polycrystalline panels have a lower conversion efficiency, they might give the impression of being inferior products. However, this is not necessarily the case – you can find quality solar panels of both types in the Clean Energy Council (CEC) list of approved products. For many homeowners, the decision between Mono and Poly solar panels depends on two factors:

  • How much space is available on your roof? Mono solar panels are recommended if space is limited, since they produce more electricity per square metre.
  • Do you prefer a specific colour? As mentioned above, polycrystalline PV cells are blue, while monocrystalline cells are black – one colour may match your home aesthetic better.

If you have plenty of space for a home solar system, and you don’t have a color preference, you can compare your options from a financial standpoint. Mono solar panels are more expensive individually, but both types have similar installation costs. You also need less monocrystalline modules to reach a given capacity (in kilowatts), since each panel has more watts – this compensates their higher price.

You will find that both module types are evenly matched in terms of payback period and ROI. Monocrystalline panels have a better financial performance in some cases, while polycrystalline panels come out on top in other cases.

Comparing the Space Needed by Poly and Mono Solar Panels

The exact dimensions of residential solar panels vary depending on the brand and model. However, they are typically 1m wide and 1.7 – 1.8m tall, and this applies for both Mono and Poly modules. In other words, each panel will cover an area of 1.7 – 1.8 square metres.

Since Monocrystalline panels generate more watts with the available sunlight, you will need less of them to reach a certain capacity. To visualise how space requirements vary, assume you’re comparing a 325W poly module and a 360W mono module. Let’s compare the space requirements for the 6.6kW Solar system – a common system size in Australia.

  • Using the 325W panel, you need 21 units to reach 6,600W.
  • Using the 360W panel, you only need 19.
  • You would be getting exactly 6,825W with the poly modules (21x325W), and 6,840W with the mono modules (19x360W).
  • The poly modules use a roof area of 37.8m2 (181 W per m2), while the mono modules use 34.2m2 (200 W per m2).

In this example, you save the space required by two solar panels – around 3.6 square metres, roughly the size of two doors. This is not an issue if your roof has plenty of space, but every square metre counts when the available area for solar panels is limited.

With a reliable provider like Arkana Energy, you can expect high performance and consistent savings on your power bills – regardless of the type of solar panel used.

At Arkana Energy, we work with leading CEC-approved brands such as Powerwave, LG, Samsung and Hyundai.

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