There are a wide variety of solar cell types in existence, but the three most commonly used are mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline, and thin film solar cells. It can be intimidating to choose a solar cell type for your home when you are not sure about what distinguishes one from another. The experts at HES Solar are here to help you understand the basic differences among the three most common types of solar panels to help you determine which one best suits your specific needs and requirements.


A typical mono crystalline solar cell is a dark black colored cell which is also known as single crystalline silicon cells. It can be distinguished from the other kinds of cells in the fact that the corners of the cell are rounded due to the physical properties of cylinder shaped mono crystalline silicon, and the surface is highly uniform. In addition to this, the production process ensures that the side corners of the composite silicon ingots are further cut off to optimize the panel performance and save on energy dissipation. Since the mono crystalline solar cells are composed of highest purity silicon, they possess superior rates of efficiency as compared to the other kinds of cells. Furthermore, these cells are more long lasting and space efficient than poly crystalline and thin film solar panels, but are significantly higher on the price range.

Mono Solar Cells vs. Poly Solar Cells



Launched back in the year 1981, the polycrystalline solar cells also referred to as multi crystalline silicon or poly silicon cells were the first solar cells to be developed independent of the Czochralski process. The production process involves melting of raw silicon under high temperatures and pouring them into square shaped molds. The cooled silicon is then retrieved from the mold and sliced off into wafers. Poly crystalline solar cells are simpler and more cost effective to produce, and have a higher temperature resistance as compared to mono crystalline cells.



Also known as thin film photovoltaic cells or TFPV the thin film solar cells are manufactured by deposition of multiple thin layers of PV or photovoltaic material onto a substrate. Depending upon the type of PV material being used, the TFPVs can be broadly classified into four separate categories namely, amorphous silicon, organic photo voltaic cells, copper indium gallium selenide or cadmium telluride. One of the major advantages of the TFPVs is that it is easier and more cost effective in terms of manufacture on a bulk scale. In addition to this, they are also more appealing in an aesthetic sense and can be highly flexible too. Since they require a lot of space for installation, TFPVs are not that suitable for domestic purposes. They also come with typically shorter warranty periods due to their shorter life spans.

Below is a chart that breaks down the main difference in the three solar cell types.

Mono, Poly, vs thin film solar cells


Now that you have a broad idea about the three types of solar cells, you can go for the one that best serves your purpose and is light on your pocket. If your interested in learning more about solar, or seeing the different types of solar panels in person check out the H.E.S. Energy Showroom & Design Center.


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We are a San Diego-based, family-owned solar company. We have been an energy innovator since 2001 and can handle projects from small, rooftop solar panel additions to large-scale commercial microgrid systems. 

Our website is a great resource for your solar research. We’d also love to speak with you to answer any specific questions you have about your project. Click here to be contacted by an HES Solar representative, or simply dial us at 619-692-2015. We don’t use call centers so you’ll speak with a full-time HES Solar employee in California.

Robert Laverty

Senior Energy Consultant, Residential

Robert Laverty joined the HES team in the summer of 2018, bringing his ten years of solar design experience and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound with him. Robert is dedicated to finding solutions to help families produce and store electricity in order to reduce their reliance on grid power as well as help reduce their household’s carbon footprint. Robert’s experience as a newspaper editor as well as his involvement with the sustainability-focused Rocky Mountain Institute drives him to constantly seek out innovative ways to meet energy needs through renewable resources as well as helps him share those ideas with Southern California homeowners. When not at work or volunteering time with his church or community, Robert spends time with his wife and two sons or pursues his passion of fly fishing.

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