Debunking the Myth on Mono vs Poly
If you’re looking into solar, you may have come across the terms ‘monocrystalline/mono’ and ‘polycrystalline/poly’ panels and be wondering which type of panel is best for you. Typing this question into Google or asking a solar salesperson will often reveal conflicting debates that one is better.
The truth is, anyone trying to tell you that mono panels are always better than poly panels or visa versa are either lying to sell you one type of technology, or they are grossly misinformed about how the technologies actually work and you should question if you can trust their advice on any other solar products.
Although monocrystalline panels were initially seen as being the more superior technology (some 19 years ago), improvements in both technologies over that time have really equalled out the playing field.
Whether one panel is better than the other is now more dependent on:
- The quality control of the manufacturer
- The quality of the materials that make up the panel (back-sheet, EVA, framing, cables, connectors, glass, etc)
- And the R&D behind the specific panel model
Because when you compare a poly panel with a mono panel that have the same rated power output, there is virtually no difference in performance between the two.
Yes, there are factors that make some panels better than others in real-world conditions, such as
- Shade tolerance
- Heat tolerance
- LeTID resistance
- PID resistance
- Performance degradation over time
- Low-light performance
- Durability against cell micro-cracks
But again, in these respects, some poly panels are superior to mono panels, and some mono panels are superior to poly panels.
This has been proven numerous times over the years by independent studies such as the Photon Field Test, the Desert Knowledge Field Test, DNV-GL extended reliability testing, Fraunhofer CSP testing, and even our own Infinite Energy test site - www.infiniteenergy.com.au/about-us/solar-test-facility/
For example, here’s some recent solar production graphs from the ‘Desert Knowledge’ field test in Alice Springs.
As you can see, the medium-quality Canadian Solar (poly) and QCells (mono) panels are performing almost identically despite being different cell types. The higher quality Winaico (poly) and SunPower (mono) panels are also performing quite similar.
Interestingly, despite being installed several years earlier, the high quality Winaico & SunPower panels are still the best performing.
“But Monocrystalline panels are more expensive than Polycrystalline panels”
This is another inaccurate generalisation we often see.
Some of the more expensive solar panels on the market are the SunPower Maxeons. Not because they have monocrystalline cells, but because they have unique MAXEON™ cells with a solid copper foundation, encapsulated within their own patented EVA and backfilm.
Another panel we offer is the Canadian Solar HiKu. These are a good quality, value-for-money polycrystalline panel with the latest dual-cell technology. And while they are more affordable than the monocrystalline SunPower panels, the Canadian Solar HiKu panels still cost more than many cheaply made low-quality monocrystalline panels because they are much higher quality in other more important aspects.
A good solar consultant won’t automatically sell you a panel without first assessing your individual needs and circumstances so they can recommend a panel that would be most appropriate for your situation. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to solar.
For example, someone with limited roof space may need to opt for 16 x 400W SunPower mono panels because these are higher wattage and can produce more power in less space. But if this customer has no roof space issues, they can quite easily achieve a similar system size with 20 x 330W Canadian Solar poly panels. This would simply require more panels and more roof space, but for a lower price.
At the end of the day, there is no better choice unless your situation requires one, so don’t listen to any salesperson that says so. You should instead put your focus towards finding a good-quality solar brand that offers reliable warranties and has an Australian presence.
Infinite Energy sells both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. We proudly stand-by both technologies and are happy to discuss any queries with you. Please contact us today.