A couple of things stand out right away with their appearance. This is due to how solar cells are made. The monocrystalline solar panel is a consistent black color.
Polycrystalline solar panels generally have lower efficiencies than monocrystalline options, but their advantage is a lower price point. In addition,polycrystalline solar panels tend to have a blue hue instead of the black hue of monocrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline cells are also made in a very different way. and hence the polycrystalline solar panel has a mottled look is less expensive to manufacture.
Due to the higher cost of the manufacturing process, monocrystalline solar panels are usually a little more expensive than polycrystalline panels, although recent manufacturing processes are reducing the cost difference.
OK, so monocrystalline panels look different and cost a little bit more than polycrystalline. But the big question is, is it worth the extra cost? Well that is answered by the difference in efficiency.
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels. Let’s say, on average 2% more efficient. What does that really mean? It means that you can have slightly more power in the same amount of space with monocrystalline than polycrystalline.
If we were to build a system with 20 monocrystalline panels, for 5400 watts, I’d need to use one more for 21 panels to get 5460 watts with the 260 watt polycrystalline panels. That would mean a little bit more racks, and if using microinverters or DC Optimizers, more equipment needed. So, while the cost of polycrystalline solar panels may be cheaper, the overall system cost may be the same for both when taking the extra equipment cost.
Another performance difference is how they react to temperature. Monocrystalline panels handle heat and lower light conditions slightly better than polycrystalline.
In extreme desert conditions, the difference may be big enough to make a difference, but for most residential environments around Kenya, the difference is quite insignificant.
Monocrystalline panels tend to behave a little better in less than perfect light conditions. Generally solar panel, regardless of their type, do not perform well in shady areas. However, if you have slight shading issues, or tend to have hazy skies, monocrystalline panels may typically perform a little better.