Many people in our country are using solar panels to power their own homes, and the number of different types of these devices on the market is growing as well. How do you choose which type of solar panel to buy? What kind of power do you want? Which brand do you want? To make sure we don’t get lost, here are some things that you can look at to see how good the solar panels being sold to you are.
It’s always a good idea to use solar panels to get your energy. This will make a big difference in how much money you spend on electricity and how big of an ecological footprint you leave on the world. Like with good ideas, it’s important to know how to choose solar panels. This isn’t the first time that this has happened. It is important to know what to look for when it comes to the durability or efficiency of our equipment, so it is important to know what to look for. We give you five different views. Do not forget any, and you will be able to tell if the panel in front of you is good enough.
Types of Solar Cells
The vast majority of solar panels on the market share numerous characteristics, ranging from their size or basic appearance to the materials used to construct them, primarily glass and silicon. However, it is more simple to stop at the last element, silicon, because it is at this element that things start to get interesting. Why? Because the solar cells that make up each panel are made with thin layers of this refined material and because these cells are responsible for transforming the energy of sunshine into electricity for our usage. They are, after all, the key to every panel.
With this in mind, we can divide basic cells into two types: monocrystalline silicon cells and polycrystalline silicon cells. They are easily distinguished because the former produces black solar panels, and the latter produces panels that are closer to dark blue in color. What distinguishes them? Essentially, in the quality of the silicon used in their production. Monocrystalline cells, as the name implies, are made from a single silicon crystal, whereas polycrystalline cells are made from multiple distinct crystals.
Which of the two is superior? In this scenario, it is not so much about whether one is better or worse as it is about which one can best meet our needs. Because monocrystalline silicon cells are manufactured from a single crystal and have superior atom alignment, panels made from them are slightly more efficient (see table below). As a result, they are typically advised for places with colder or cloudier temperatures. Polycrystalline silicon solar panels are less pure and have some atom variation, making them slightly less efficient. However, because they can survive higher temperatures, they are normally suggested for places with warmer and brighter weather.
If you are considering switching to solar energy to save money, keep in mind that this minor boost in the performance of monocrystalline solar panels also makes them slightly more expensive. If you are concerned about the environment, keep in mind that the production process for monocrystalline cells is slower and needs more energy.
After distinguishing between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, one can examine the various technological advancements that have been applied to both types, always aiming to boost the efficiency and power of the panels. And this is where the significant differences begin because increasing efficiency may be accomplished in a variety of ways. Learn about them and, of course, weigh the benefits they provide against the costs they entail.
We suggest two recent advancements in the fabrication of solar panels that are now available to self-consumer due to their growing popularity: PERC panels and split cell panels.
Passivated Emitter Rear Cell (PERC) Panels
A conventional cell, whether monocrystalline or polycrystalline, is typically made up of three layers with distinct electrical properties: an outer layer of silicon called an emitter that is in direct contact with solar radiation, an intermediate layer (base layer) of silicon, and a final lower layer of BSF aluminum (Back Surface Field) that absorbs the infrared radiation that has passed through the previous layers.
PERC technology incorporates an extra sheet between the middle and lower layers of solar cells. Because this extra layer is reflective, electrons of infrared light are prevented from passing to the bottom layer of aluminum, where they would be absorbed, and their utility would be lost. Instead, the PERC layer returns them to the upper layers, generating more electricity and, as a result, greater power. PERC is associated with improved efficiency, but it also comes at a higher cost than a regular panel.
Panels with split cells
Yes, indeed. As you may have guessed, a split cell solar panel is a module in which the solar cells have been split – rather, cut – in half using lasers. These cells also have a variety of advantages, which are reflected in the price. Higher efficiency than regular solar panels is one of them, but it is not the only one. Split solar cells are less prone to micro-breakage and thus more efficient for a longer period of time since they are broken into smaller parts.
To believe that the story is finished with PERC panels and split cell panels would be, at best, foolish. A slew of other advancements have made their way into the market with varying degrees of success, ranging from hybrid panels to those that combine advances unique to each brand of the module. This is true for Panasonic’s HIT technology, LG’s NeOn series, and SunPower’s Maxeon cells, to name a few.
Is it truly necessary to place a wager on these cutting-edge technologies? It doesn’t have to be that way. It all comes down to your priorities. A well-sized conventional panel system can provide exceptional performance at a low cost. Remember that the more your installation fits your energy needs, the smarter it will be.
Elements of Solar Panels
Assume you’ve gone shopping and are at a warehouse surrounded by several various kinds and types panels. In this case, a glance can provide us with several perspectives from which to assess the modules’ quality in front of us. You are not required to be an expert. Pay attention.
The panels can hold a variety of solar cells depending on their size: 32, 60, 72, 96. The number itself is unimportant, but the uniformity of the cells and the quality of the output are. Is the hue of the cells the same or different? Are the cells aligned correctly, or are there any deviations?
Although it may appear small, the cells’ lack of color uniformity or symmetry indicates that there could be considerable disparities in performance. Let’s keep looking.
Please pay attention to the frame because it is also very important. Although most are constructed of the same material – aluminum – it is always preferable to choose a solar panel with a sturdy frame that is not too thin. A very thin frame may not provide enough wind resistance, resulting in micro-breaks in the plates and performance losses. As you can see, everything adds up.
Turn around and look at the panel from the back to view the junction boxes. The crucial point to note here is that the box is securely closed but can be opened. As a result, if a revision is required or diodes must be exchanged, we will have no trouble doing so.
Some Technical Photovoltaic Concepts
When faced with a solar panel’s technical sheet, you must pay attention to two principles that influence the ultimate quality of the product. This is the panel’s degradation coefficient and efficiency.
Degradation coefficient of a solar panel
If you’ve been looking for solar panels, you’ve probably seen that many manufacturers provide production guarantees ranging from 80% to 25% for up to 25 years. What exactly does this mean? You are guaranteed that your panel will work at least 80% of the time for two and a half decades. 100% production is not assured since each solar panel’s performance decreases. Surprisingly, the greatest drop occurs during the first year of operation.
With this in mind, it is critical to examine the panel’s degradation ratio, which is nothing more than the proportion of performance that the panel will lose each year. Don’t be concerned. It is rarely greater than 0.7 or 0.8 percent.
The Efficiency Of Solar Panels
Contrary to popular belief, only a portion of the sunlight that strikes a solar panel gets turned into power. Logically, the higher this percentage of efficiency, the bigger the panel’s power and, thus, its performance, which is what ultimately interests us in terms of electricity bill savings.
At first look, the efficiency percentages supplied by most manufacturers may appear insufficient – they seldom reach 15 percent to 22 percent in the best circumstances – but don’t be concerned. Even in laboratory experiments today, that percentage rarely exceeds 24 percent.
Long-term: Warranties and Customer Service
We’ve observed that several solar panel manufacturers provide warranties of up to 25 years. Of course, when you hear this, you have to wonder what kind of organization can offer such long-term promises. The answer is straightforward: the most stable.
This may look rational, but it makes sense when we examine a large number of manufacturers of all geographical origins that have recently entered the market and the number of firms that have quickly gone. Before deciding on one or the other, we recommend paying attention to the manufacturer’s trajectory.
Some companies, such as Canadian Solar and Sharp, have created a reputation and become well-known through time. If the manufacturer you’re considering isn’t one of the most well-known, you should see if it’s on Bloomberg’s “Tier 1 List.” The list, which also contains Tier 2 and Tier 3 categories, is, in truth, nothing more than an annual rating issued by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance that examines the “health” of solar companies in terms of financial health.
The ranking does not necessarily correspond to the quality of the products. At the same time, this is important to consider. If what you want to know is whether you can trust the firm to be there to support you in 20 years, it never hurts to look at these types of indicators.
Quality certificates, you know, that collection of stamps with acronyms that nobody understands that normally appear on the box of solar panels are a lot more meaningful indicator than any ranking. The quality certifications come from independent companies. They tell us about the processes and testing that the panels have passed, proving that the product meets all of the legal tender’s safety and quality criteria. A vast range of certifications is available, with some achieving universal acceptance.
IEC 61215 – Mechanical and electrical properties of crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels.
IEC 61730 – Solar panel safety regulations.
IEC 61701 – Corrosion resistance to salt spray (advisable if you are going to install your panels in a coastal place)
IEC 62716 – Corrosion resistance to ammonia (advisable if you plan to install panels on a livestock farm or farm).
Among the others are the European Union’s CE certification, the NRTL (the United States and Canada), the German TÜV Rheinland, the Japanese JET, the Chinese CQC, and the British BBA.
Additionally, ensure that your solar panel displays the WEEE seal, which verifies that the producer adheres to European legislation regarding the treatment and recycling of electrical goods.
Photovoltaic installations of solar panels are long-lasting devices with no moving parts that are unlikely to cause difficulties. If you live in America, make sure you get solar panels from a company that provides help in our nation. Again, this may appear to be a minor issue. Still, it becomes critical if, for example, the activity of your company is going to be heavily reliant on the production of solar energy obtained from your photovoltaic installation. Remember that every time you spend on the phone resolving issues is time that your panels are not using.
Similarly, you’ll want your solar panel brand to have a reliable installer in your area. Do not be misled. If an issue happens, you will always have the first point of contact with the installation. This one can best help you in the event of a problem and in everything linked to how to get the most out of your solar panel installation.
Take the first step toward photovoltaic energy. Have faith in Energy Change.