Overview and Appearance
Polycrystalline or Multicrystalline is a newer technology and its manufacturing process can vary.
Polycrystalline also starts as a silicon crystal ‘seed’ placed in a vat of molten silicon. However, rather than draw the silicon crystal seed up as with Monocrystalline, the vat of silicon is simply allowed to cool. This is what forms the distinctive edges and grains in the solar cell.
Polycrystalline cells were previously thought to be inferior to monocrystalline because they were slightly less efficient. However, because of the cheaper method by which they can be produced — coupled with only slightly lower efficiencies — they have now become the dominant technology on the residential solar panels market.
Underpinning the new record for p-type multicrystalline solar cells has been the continued quality improvements of pulticrystalline wafers that have helped pushed standard 60-cell pulticrystalline panels from 240W to 300W over the last 5 years.
Polycrystalline cells are now very close to monocrystalline cells in terms of efficiency.