What is the Difference Between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Solar Panels

What is the difference between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels? It’s a question that a lot of South Africans have been asking themselves. Load shedding over the past few years has spurred many to explore alternative energy options. Solar energy features high on the list in this regard.

Installing solar panels at home or at work is a good way of ensuring peace of mind while ESKOM tries to put it’s house in order. Things are only likely to get even worse over the next 5 years, so solar is a good investment.

When you start shopping around for your system, you will discover that there are two types of solar panel that can be found out there. These are monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. So, how do they differ and which one should you choose?

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline solar panels

The main difference between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels lies in the way through which their cells are made. Monocrystalline cells are cut from single silicon crystals. Polycrystalline cells, on the other hand, are made from multiple silicon wafers. Both processes demand that the silicon be melted at temperatures of 1371 degrees Celsius.

One thing to note is that Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient than Polycrystalline solar panels. If you take two solar panels that are of the same size, then the Monocrystalline panel will produce more power.

But how big of a difference is there? In reality, Monocrystalline panels are about 2% more efficient than Polycrystalline panels. It means when setting up your system with Polycrystalline panels, you need more of them than you would need when setting up a system with Monocrystalline panels.

But how many more? A system with 20 * 270W Monocrystalline solar panels would give you 5400W. To get the same performance on 260W Polycrystalline panels, you need to have 21 solar panels. So, the difference is one solar panel.

Black or dark blue in colorBluish
Slightly more expensiveCheaper
Slightly more efficientLess efficient
Better at handling heatHandles heat slightly less

What is better mono or poly solar panels?

Those are the differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. So, when you, as a South African, are shopping around for equipment for your system, which panels should you go for?

Should you go for polycrystalline solar panels which are a bit more efficient? Or should you opt for cheaper monocrystalline panels? The quest for the answer to that is probably why you landed on this site.

Monocrystalline panels perform better, and they are the ones that you should choose where possible. Yes, they may be a bit more expensive, but those expenses are offset by the fact that you need less equipment. As we noted, you need fewer panels when setting up a system with Monocrystalline panels.

However, the differences between the two are not such that you should agonize over them. Polycrystalline panels will work very well. They are only 2% less efficient. That’s not really that big a difference, particularly when talking about home solar systems. The difference becomes important for those setting up solar farms, but probably not for those looking to set up systems for their homes.

It has to be noted that in South Africa, the price differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are not that notable. In fact, across the globe, there has been a price convergence over the years. We have noted some instances where monocrystalline panels were actually cheaper than their polycrystalline counterparts.

How much are solar panels in South Africa


In this article we highlighted the differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. It was noted that these panels have several key differences. The most important of these is efficiency, with monocrystalline panels producing slightly more power.

However, polycrystalline cells tend to be cheaper, though the price differences are getting blurred. In South Africa, it’s possible to get monocrystalline panels that are slightly cheaper than polycrystalline panels with the same power rating.

In terms of choosing, it’s not something over which you should worry. The performance difference may mean that monocrystalline panels have an edge, but that’s probably not that important when considering home solar systems.

Have further questions? Ask them on our Solar Forum

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