Solar Panels Review-Types of Solar Panels.
With the advancement of solar PV technology the cost of solar panels has been dropping every year and these days, it has become very easier to go solar than it was a decade ago. However, despite the cost of solar technology decreasing, the price of solar panels still depends on what types of solar panels are installed. There are about six (6) types of solar panels as discussed below:
What are types of solar panels?
- Mono crystalline silicon (single silicon)
In the current market, these types of solar panels are the most efficient. Due to their high silicon content, more sunlight is converted to electricity. The solar cells in these panels are slices cut from pure silicon crystalline bars. The cells are aligned facing one direction making them extremely efficient when they are in direct contact with sunlight. Because of their high silicon content, they are more costly but you require fewer panels making them ideal for residential rooftops.
- Polycrystalline silicon (multi silicon)
These panels are made from silicon cutoffs, which are molded to make a block. The block forms a cell made up of several bits of pure crystal. However, these individual crystals are not perfectly aligned together and the spaces in between them make this type of solar panels not as efficient. They have lower silicon levels, which make them less costly to manufacture. They are better suited for commercial purposes as opposed to residential because they require a lot of installation space. You can see these panels being used in big solar farm projects.
- Hybrid Panels
The main manufacturer of this type of panel is Panasonic (formally known as Sanyo). These panels comprise of a thin layer of amorphous solar film placed behind the monocrystalline cells. This type of panels are perfect for low light places because they extract energy from any available sunlight. These efficient panels take up the least roof space. If you have a very small roof, these panels are perfect for you. They are more expensive than the previous two. However, if you have enough space for a mono or poly crystalline panels, I would recommend purchasing them instead because they are more pocket friendly and produce roughly the same amount of energy.
- Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV)
These panels look like real roofing tiles. Most people prefer them because of their good polished look. However, they are more expensive. These panels require a lot of sunlight and are less efficient than the conventional photovoltaic. They do not last long and require a lot of maintenance.
- Solar Thermal Panels
These type of panels have nothing to do with electricity. They are used to provide hot water for your home (shower, sink e.t.c) or your pool. It is a good alternative instead of paying your gas company. Some of these systems can even provide you with air conditioning or heat your house.
- Black Frames and Black Backed Panels.
These panels are completely black. They do elude a cooler look especially when used in dark colored plain tiled homes. The main issue with these panels is that the black backing absorbs light and heat from the sun only. This means that you do not get additional energy from the sunlight reflecting onto your panels. Being all black, these panels get very hot which interferes with the efficiency of the solar cells because the panels tend to perform better when they are cooler.
What are the prices of the different solar panels?
Residential solar systems range from $15,000 and $40,000 and are sized from 3 to 8kW. Over the decade, the cost per watt has dropped significantly and is now between 4 and 5 dollars/watt. The cost per watt is inclusive of parts, labor, permitting fees, overheads, and profit. Keep in mind that the bigger the solar system, the lower the cost per watt.
Commercial solar systems are sized from 4kW to 100kW and beyond. Because of the feed-in tariff scheme introduced by the government, the Solar Trade Association (STA) calculates solar power to produce a return on investment up to 11.4%. The return on investment is currently high, thanks to this tariff. However, the installation cost is also high. Because you are creating your own energy, this tariff helps save money by eliminating electricity bills. Secondly, the energy company will pay you an export cost tariff of 4.77p/kW for all unused energy, which they export back to their grid. Thirdly, the energy company will pay you a generation tariff based on a fixed rate per kW of the electricity you generate. As soon as you register, the tariff levels are assured for the duration of the tariff (maximum of 20 years) and are index-linked.
A commercial 4 kW requires 10 – 20 panes with an initial cost of approximately $7,000 for the module and installation and offers a return on $800 per year. A 10kW system costs around $20,000 to install with a return of approximately $2,000 per year. A 50kW system costs approximately $90,000 to install and can deliver an income of $10,000 or more per year when installed in prime conditions. If you have the space, these commercial panels are great investments.
Some of the best residential solar systems include the JAC M6SF-3 module, which has a power output of up to 265W in peak conditions. This panel is extremely efficient ranging between 18.4% — 19.5% in standard test conditions. It is very light, and this should be taken into consideration if you live in areas that experience harsh weather conditions. It is currently the best in the market and the price certainly reflects that.
For those willing to spend less, the HSL Mono Module is the one for you. It has the ability to reach a peak power level of 265W in peak conditions. This panel is the best for your buck. Each panel comes with a 12-year warranty and a performance warranty of up to 25 years. However, this system is very heavy weighing in at 20kgs. It is very durable and offers the industry standard of 16% efficiency when placed in a standard testing environment.
When it comes to commercial solar panels, SunPower has the best in the current markets. They have high performance solar panels. They also provide the best financing to ensure you receive the maximum returns on your investment. The solar panels come with a 25-year power and product warranty.
Before selecting the right solar systems consider the following:
Efficiency and duration – These factors will make a lot of difference in the long run.
Performance – Are the panels able to maintain high levels of performance after a couple of years? Which system will be worthwhile in the end?
Materials – The materials used matter a lot as higher quality materials equals’ better efficiency and durability.