What are the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of each type of PV cell?
Like their name implies, monocrystalline panels have cells made of a single crystal. The manufacturing process is more complex, which makes this technology the most expensive of the two. However, monocrystalline solar panels offset this by providing a higher efficiency. Due to this factor, monocrystalline PV panels are the recommended option when maximum output per square foot is required, for instance when project space is limited. The single-crystal PV cells give these solar panels a distinctive appearance - their surface has a uniform black color.
These panels use PV cells created from multiple crystals, which simplifies the manufacturing process - molten silicon is simply cast and seeded with smaller crystals. For this reason, polycrystalline cells offer the lowest price of the two technologies, but the heterogeneous PV cells provide a reduced efficiency and output per square foot. This type of PV panel is the optimal solution if budget is constrained or if the project area is not a limitation. Between two projects of the same installed capacity, the polycrystalline project will tend to be physically larger. Polycrystalline PV cells can be identified by the varied blue tones of their individual cells. It is important to note that, while this technology is less efficient than monocrystalline PV cells, it suffers a less drastic decrease in performance with increasing temperature.