Monocrystalline VS Polycrystalline Solar Panels

The majority of solar panels that you’ve seen on the rooftops of homes and businesses are likely to have been either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Granted, they’re not the only types available on the market, but newer types of solar panels tend to be rarer and more expensive.

So what does mono/polycrystalline mean? Simply put it’s to do with the grade of silicon used and the amount of crystals held within. “Poly” comes from multiple, whereas “mono” comes from one; and is a reference to the way that the solar panels are made.

Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a block of high-grade silicon produced from ONE crystal, sliced into wafers.

Polycrystalline solar panels are made from a blend of multiple silicons that are melted down and combined.


Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are made from high-grade silicon ingots sliced into wafers to form each solar cell. These silicon ingots can be made in a variety of ways; one of which being the Czochralski method, involving “growing” the silicon from a single crystal. The most important part is the use of high-purity silicon.

The solar cells being made from slices of purer quality silicon gives them a sleek, more uniform appearance. They’re usually darker in appearance than polycrystalline solar panels and regarded as the “premium” option when it comes to solar panels. Of course, this also renders them more expensive.

commercial solar panel installation

Why are monocrystalline solar panels more effective?

In solar panels with a higher grade of silicon – I.E: monocrystalline – there is more room for these electrons to move around, meaning they can generate more electricity. On the other hand, in polycrystalline solar panels there are more crystals to obstruct the movement of electrons; meaning the energy generated is less.

Semiconductors are elements or compounds that can only conduct electricity sometimes. To achieve electrical conductivity certain conditions have to be met. For example: the element or compound needs to be receiving energy from another source, like sunlight.

This is because the conductivity of a semiconductor is affected by the amount of infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, or visible light touching it. Which is part of the reason why they work so well in PV solar panels because they make good photovoltaic systems.

To better understand why the materials your solar panels are
made from has an effect on their efficiency, try our how do solar panels work 

The Pros And Cons Of Monocrystalline


  • Monocrystalline solar panels are some of the most efficient panels commonly available on the market.
  • The higher efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels makes them a good option for homes or businesses lacking roof space.
  • Regarded as a high quality product with a generally more aesthetically pleasing look.
  • Generally better in hotter climates than polycrystalline solar panels.


  • More expensive to both make and purchase than polycrystalline solar panels.
  • The use of high-grade silicon means creating/ mining new silicon as opposed to reusing already grown/ mined silicon.
  • Much high-quality crystalline silicon is sourced unethically and imported from the other side of the world, reducing efforts to combat climate change.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline silicon of a solar grade (polysilicon) is created by refining metallurgical grade silicon through chemical purification. This is called the siemens process. Polycrystalline silicon is made by melting down many silicon fragments. This means that not only do polycrystalline solar panels take less energy to produce, they also reduce silicon waste.

In terms of appearance polycrystalline solar panels tend to be more blue in colour. They may also have more visible borders between individual solar cells. However, differences like these are only really noticed by people who are very familiar with solar panels. As such, rating monocrystalline VS polycrystalline due to their appearance is more down to your personal preference.

The Pros And Cons Of Polycrystalline


  • Polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper to buy than monocrystalline.
  • Polycrystalline panels are less energy intensive to make.
  • Polycrystalline panels help reduce silicon waste which is important for people who desire solar panels from an environmental perspective.


  • Less effective than their monocrystalline counterparts.
  • Can suffer sooner in high-temperature climates.
  • Will take more panels to produce the same amount of electricity as monocrystalline, so may not be suitable for smaller rooftops.

Contact Us

System Electrical Group has over twenty years in the electrical industry and is happy to work with you on your commercial project.

Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you have any additional questions, or want to start the process of your commercial solar panel installation.

commercial solar panel installation