High silane to hydrogen flow ratios and optimum wire temperatures are the key process parameters to achieve high growth rate poly-silicon films by hot wire chemical vapour deposition (HWCVD) using a four-wire hot-wire assembly. Four tungsten wires, 4 cm apart from each other, were used as catalytic filaments. Growth rates higher than 7 nm/s have been achieved at a substrate temperature of ∼510°C. The increase in deposition rate was accompanied by deterioration of two physical properties i.e., decrease in photoresponse and increase in oxygen incorporation in the film, which is attributed to high porosity in the material that is commonly observed in these high growth rate materials. The process conditions to incorporate a high hydrogen content into the material for passivation of defects and donor states have been identified as high hydrogen dilution and lower wire temperature. With these procedures, poly-Si films deposited at 1.3 nm/s showed a high ambipolar diffusion length of 132 nm. Incorporating such poly-Si films as the i-layer in an n-i-p solar cell on a stainless steel substrate, without back reflector, showed an efficiency of 4.4 % and a high open circuit voltage of 0.58 V, which is attributed to effective passivation of defects and dopants by incorporated hydrogen.