If you are thinking about investing in a roof top residential solar generation system, then the choice of the solar panel is a critical part of that decision. Not only as it is the most expensive component, but it is also a key to determine how much power your system will produce over its lifetime.
Here are some things to consider about solar panels
Choose a reputable manufacturer
Solar panel manufacturers are grouped by tier. Tier 1 generally being established global manufacturers to Tier 3 being new entrants or assemblers as opposed to manufacturers. Prices generally follow the tier structure with Tier 1 being more expensive than Tier 3. Since we consider the reliability of the panel over its life cycle we recommend only Tier 1 panels. Virtually all Tier 1 manufacturers provide a 25 year power warranty which you can find in the data sheets on their web sites. For example, *Hanwha Q-Cells Q.PEAK-G4.1 300 watt panels are warranted to produce at least 98% of their rate power in year 1; at least 92.6% through year 10; and, at least 83.6% through year 25.
Pick the right panel wattage
Manufacturers currently produce 60 cell and 72 cell panels for residential home solar installations. Most residential installations will use 60 cell panels. A few years ago it was hard to find a panel of more than 250 watts. Today it is relatively easy to find 60 cell panels in the 280 to 300 watt range. We recommend using higher wattage panels although the individual price is higher, the result is needing less panels and the other components of the system.
Panels are available in either silver or black frames with black being somewhat more expensive. Since the choice of color does not affect the system performance, selection is based on how you would want the system appear from ground level. Solar panels are also available in with Monocrystalline (Mono) or Polycrystalline (Poly) based on the technique used in their manufacture. Mono panels are more efficient and more expensive and will appear to have a uniform black color while poly panels will tend to be blue in color.
These are the basics in choosing a solar panel for your residence and covers the most important items.
There are a number of other more technical items, such as, positive tolerance, temperature co-efficient rating, PID and LID resistance and conversion efficiency which we have not covered in this blog but may influence your decision based on your specific circumstances.
Be sure to check out our related blog post: Are Solar Panels right for the Roof on my Home?
Image Source Hanwha Q.Cell Solar Panel Mono