Solar technology is constantly improving, which is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the types of panels currently available before committing to installing a solar PV system.
As of now, the two most common types of solar panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Both options convert sunlight into energy for you to eventually use in your home and are actively being used in the industry today. We want to break down some of the key differences between the two to better understand which will work best for Canadians looking to go solar.
How Do Solar Panels Produce Energy?
To understand the difference between these two panels, it’s necessary first to understand how panels produce energy.
Panels generate energy through sunlight photon particles interacting with PV cells. Once the light reaches the cells, electrons will react and create electric currents. This current is what helps power your home and gives you the electricity to use throughout the day.
Now, what exactly makes your panels work efficiently? When electrons are at rest and then are activated by sunlight, it causes a voltage difference. A greater difference means more energy production.
Now let’s break down how polycrystalline panels work. Each cell is made up of multiple fragments of silicon melted into cubes which are then cut into wafers. Because of this, the cells are much stiffer, leaving little room for the electrons inside to move—less difference between active and resting electron states means less production. The average efficiency rating for Polycrystalline panels is between 13% to 16%
Polycrystalline panels have been around for a long time and can get the job done but at a less efficient rate. The main advantage polycrystalline has to offer is its more affordable price compared with monocrystalline.
Monocrystalline is a great premium option that offers much better efficiency, especially in Canadian weather. Monocrystalline panels are made from single-crystal silicon. Single-crystals allow electrons to move more freely to allow for better electricity flow. The average efficiency for monocrystalline panels is around 20%, with newer models approaching 23%. This means they also work much better in low-light conditions such as overcast weather.
The design of monocrystalline panels also provides a sleeker look compared to the brighter blue hues of polycrystalline.
Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?
To summarize, let’s go through the main differences between the two types of panels.
Now that we understand how these panels generate power and the pros and cons of each, it’s easier to come to a formal decision on what works best, especially for Canadians.
When choosing which panel type we wanted to include in our system, we decided to go with efficiency. For Canadians, monocrystalline’s better performance in low-light conditions makes it the clear winner in our eyes, especially when paired with our quality microinverters. Even on foggy, rainy and snowy days, the solar panels will still produce electricity.
Although monocrystalline may be more expensive, there are great rebates and financing options that can help reduce the overall cost of a system. At Polaron, we offer a 0% financing program for our customers ranging between 12-16 years depending on the province.