Some solar panels are black in color and some are blue. This color difference depends on the way which light interacts with two different types of solar panels namely, polycrystalline and monocrystalline.

Due to the type of silicon (polycrystalline) used certain set of solar panels are blue. The blue color is mainly due to an anti-reflective coating which helps to improve the absorbing capacity and efficiency of the solar panels. Black surfaces absorb more light so black solar panels (monocrystalline) are more efficient.

Majority of modern solar photovoltaic panels are made using silicon, a non-metallic element. This nonmetallic element is used due to its ability to absorb most wavelengths of light and produce an electric charge; also we can commercially produce near-perfect crystals of it at a relatively low price. Differences in solar panels is mainly depends on the purity of the silicon used in the module.

Polycrystalline (blue) solar panels

The silicon is made from raw silicon that has been melted and poured into a square mold is used in polycrystalline solar cells. Individual silicon crystals are formed within the mold as this process doesn’t align the silicon perfectly. The nature of these individual silicon crystals produces the blue color characteristic of polycrystalline panels.

The efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels is somewhat lower, but the benefit for customers is that this option is more affordable. In addition, when you seek polycrystalline solar panels for sale, the sellers may highlight the blue hue of these panels compared to the monocrystalline panels’ black hue.

Although polycrystalline solar panels are also composed of silicon, it does not involve the use of single-crystal silicon. Polycrystalline solar panel manufacturers melt multiple silicon fragments together to produce the wafers for these panels. For this reason, they are called “poly” or multi crystalline. The electrons in each cell will have less space to move because of many crystals in a cell. Therefore, the efficiency ratings of polycrystalline solar panels are relatively lower.

The manufacturing process of polycrystalline cell leads to less waste and energy use is more than that to produce monocrystalline cells. So polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive .Due to the lower cost production, about 90 percent of the solar panels on the market today are polycrystalline and so most of the panels have blue hue.

Monocrystalline (black) solar panels

High level of purity silicon is used to make monocrystalline solar cells. One large silicon crystal is formed as the silicon is oriented the same way in a monocrystalline solar cell. Depending on the way in which light interacts with a monocrystalline silicon layer, monocrystalline solar panels appear black in color. The process of aligning the silicon into one crystal is known as the Czochralski process. This process is energy-intensive and wastage of silicon occurs as a result. So monocrystalline panels have more cost than polycrystalline solar panels.

When you look for monocrystalline panels for sale, you will find them positioned as a relatively premium solar product. Monocrystalline solar panel manufacturers highlight the superior aesthetics as well as efficiency of this panel to convince customers. Sun Power monocrystalline panels and LG monocrystalline panels are two of the popular models in this category.

Solar cells for monocrystalline panels are produced with silicon wafers (the silicon is first formed into bars and then it is sliced into thin wafers). The panel derives its name “mono” because it uses single-crystal silicon. As the cell is constituted of a single crystal, it provides the electrons more space to move for a better electricity flow. This is the reason behind the higher efficiency of monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline solar panels.

Black vs. Blue solar panels: Benefits and Drawbacks

Both Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels have benefits and drawbacks.Monocrystalline panels tend to have a higher efficiency than polycrystalline panels as their uniformity and the alignment of silicon. Higher efficiency cause higher price so monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive to produce and buy. Polycrystalline solar panels have a less concentrated production process, which leads to lower prices for installers and consumers. If we consider efficiency, a monocrystalline solar panel is best option. Likewise, if we consider price, polycrystalline panels is the best option.

 

Comparison chart: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline solar panels

Parameters

Monocrystalline

Polycrystalline

Cost

High

Low

Efficiency

High

Low

Appearance

Black color panels

Bluish color panels

Lifespan

Minimum 25 years

Up to 25 years

Temperature Coeff.

High

Low

Key Manufacturers

SunPower, LG

SolarWorld, Trina

 

 

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