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Going solar with the right types of solar panels

Types of solar panels 1. Types of solar panels and components for your Photovoltaic (PV) system: 

The process of going solar may require you to know the PV systems and components suitable for you as well as the types of solar panels available today in the market in order to  help you decide to switch to solar. To select the best solar panels for your solar PV technology, you may need to obtain a solar panels review of different solar brands that are already available in the market such as LG solar panels, Suniva solar panels, Canadian solar panels etc 

Also, there are several solar PV components, including but not limited to the solar panels themselves, controller, cables, inverter, mount, frames, and hardware, meters and monitors, batteries as well as racks and wire cages to house the batteries.

All of these components are installed to support your solar panels while storing excess power in batteries or feeding the excess power into the grid. However, the use of batteries on your PV system depends on whether you decide to switch to grid-connected PV systems or off-grid PV systems as discussed below: 

2. Grid-connected PV systems vs Off-grid PV systems  

Knowing which solar PV system to go for is an important step in the process of deciding to switch to solar and there are two main PV systems that are used, that is:

Types of solar panels a) Grid-connected PV or Grid-tie PV systems

  • These PV systems are usually connected to the main grid/utility grid to stabilize them. These systems do not utilize batteries to store excess power, but instead use the grid to store excess power generated by the solar panels.
  • Using net-metering, these systems are able to feed excess power to the grid while drawing power from the grid when your solar panels are not producing enough electricity to power your household or business.
  • In many cases, the grid supplies power to your household or business at night when there is not enough solar power to produce solar electricity.
  • These systems usually use an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) from your solar panels to alternating current (AC) which is used to provide solar electricity to your household at 120 V or 240 V. 

b) Off-grid PV systems or grid fall back systems

  • These PV systems are usually not connected to the grid and are usually used in remote places that are far away from the grid.
  • These systems don’t stabilize their power with the grid and as a result utilize batteries to store excess solar electricity produced mainly during the day.
  • This excess power stored in batteries is then used at night to power your home or business.
  • Off-grid PV systems are common in many rural areas of developing countries where a majority of households are not connected to the national grid.

3. What types of solar panels are available today? 

Once you have known what type of solar PV system to go for, the next question to ask yourself is “how many solar panels do I need?” which depends on the types of solar panels to be installed in your home or business. How many solar panels you need?  depends mainly on their affordability and conversion efficiency. The higher the conversion efficiency, the more expensive the solar panels and the less rooftop space required to switch to solar and vice versa. Therefore, it depends on your budget and the space available on your rooftop to determine the type of solar panels you need. 

There are four basic types of solar panels used for residential places which differ from each other mainly due to their conversion efficiency: These are:  

  1. Amorphous solar panels: These are also known as “thin film solar panels” and are cheaper to manufacture compared to the other types of solar panels.  As a result their solar panel cost is the lowest compared to all the other types of solar panels. These solar panels require a lot of rooftop space because of their low conversion efficiency of 6%. They are also large and hence require no size restriction for the solar array or for a system with low power requirements (up to 200 Watts). 
  2. Polycrystalline solar panels are more expensive than Amorphous solar panels and have a conversion efficiency of 12 to 16 percent, but their solar panel cost continues to decrease from year to year. 
  3. Monocrystalline solar panels are one of the most efficient and expensive solar panels available in the market today with a conversion efficiency of 14 to 22 percent. As a result, these solar panels are smaller in size because you require a few of them to produce the power you need as their conversion efficiency is very high compared to their counterparts. 
  4. String ribbon solar panels: These solar panels are new in the market and are being produced to compete with mono crystalline solar panels in terms of efficiency and cost.

4. So, what type of solar panels are suitable for you? 

The type of solar panels to go for depends mainly on your rooftop size, the amount of sunshine hitting your roof and how much money you are willing to spend to switch to solar. To get a more specific answer about the type of solar panels suitable for you, get started here. Here you will be provided with preliminary information using a simplified online solar energy system which help you obtain a brief analysis about your specific case and get you connected to a certified solar contractor in your area. This system is also able to provide you with specific answers to the following questions you may have before deciding to go solar

  • How much sunshine is hitting your specific roof that can be harnessed to produce solar energy
  • How many solar panels you need.
  • The brand of solar panels you can obtain
  • Certified solar contractors in your area. 
  • The percentage of your electricity needs that can be met with solar power.
  • The percentage of your energy bill that can be off-set with solar power. 
  • How much money you can save with solar energy. 

To get started, all you need to do is type your address at the EnergySage online solar energy system. This online system provides you with answers to your specific case while answering the question: Are solar panels worth it?. Also this system provides you with financing options available to you to let decide whether to switch to solar is worth it or not. Get started here to determine whether solar panels are worth it or not for your specific case. 

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kiyel williams - April 1, 2016

I like the tip on what to consider when buying solar panels. How much sunlight hits your house and how much you need to save money on your energy bills. I would think it wise to spend only the money necessary to offset energy bills and nothing more. I will have to talk to my friend who has solar panels so I can see what they did for theirs. Thank you for the information!

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    Alex - April 4, 2016

    Hello Kiyel Williams, thank you for your comment and for taking your time to write here. Yes you want to save money by switching to solar and that’s why many people do this. However, some people go solar for both economic and environmental reasons. Also, for you to off-set your energy bills, it is necessary to know how much sun is hitting your roof as well as your current energy requirements, this will enable you to size your system. However, before you size your solar panel system you want to see whether you can implement any energy measures to reduce your energy requirements and thus reduce the size of your system as well as the costs for switching to solar. Yes, you only need to spend on the money necessary to offset your energy bills and this means knowing the above factors as well as any energy efficiency measures necessary in order to reduce the costs of your solar panels. Learn more here (www.switchingtosolarpv.com) about an online solar energy system that provides you with some of this data to help you make a more informed decision. Thank you again and please sign up to receive our regular newsletter

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