A solar panel (sometimes called a solar module, photovoltaic module or photovoltaic panel) is a packaged, connected assembly of photovoltaic cells. The solar panel can be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential power applications.
Because a single solar panel can produce only a limited amount of power, installations contain several panels.
A photovoltaic system typically includes an array of solar panels, an inverter, and can also include a battery system and interconnection wiring for storing the generated power.
Some Tips for choosing solar panels
Solar panels range in price from under a hundred dollars to thousands. When choosing solar panels for your home or commercial solar power system, there are a number of factors worth considering. It is important that you don’t base your solar panel purchase decision on cost alone – the following are a few tips for choosing solar modules.
Solar panel : cost
The cost of manufacturing a solar panel is determined by a number of variables:
- the size (in Watts)
- the physical size
- the durability / longevity (quality of materials and construction)
Choosing a solar panel on price alone is not wise, as a specific brand’s design may not fit the roofspace where you wish to install it, and it may not have the necessary certifications to qualify for government rebates.
Durability / Longevity / Warranty Period
Other important considerations are the warranty period and any certifications the solar panel might have. It is vital that you find the warranty required to help ensure economic payback of the power produced.
The guaranteed durability or longevity of a solar panel is important for a number of reasons – it can be an indicator of the manufacturer’s confidence in its products. Reputable solar panels will have warranty a period of 25 years.
However, an important point to remember about warranty is that it will only be honoured for as long as that company continues to operate.This is a good argument for selecting a well established solar panel brand, rather than choose the false economy of an obscure brand that may disappear overnight.
Size and Watts
The power converting capacity of the solar panel in Watts will directly affect the cost, as solar panels are usually compared and priced in dollars per Watt. Watts are related to the output of each panel – that is for example, a 100Watt panel, under ideal conditions, will generate 100 Watts of electricity each hour, and a 200 Watt panel will generate 200 Watts each hour. Expect to pay double the price for a 200 Watt panel, compared to a 100 Watt panel.
The output of a panel also determines the physical size of the panel, meaning the 200Watt panel will be larger in size to the 100 Watt panel. The type of solar cells used in its production also determines the size of the solar panel. They key issue to consider is that your system produces enough Watts overall to power your household appliances appliances, and that the solar panels will physically fit in the area where you wish to install them.
While thin film panels are quite a bit cheaper than mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline, remember that they do require a great deal more roof area. Your northerly facing roof space is very valuable solar power real estate, so you’ll need to consider carefully your future installation plans. If you believe at some stage you will wish to add on more panels, you need to ensure you’ll realistically have the space to do it, otherwise you may find you’ll need to replace thin film panels well before the end of their serviceable life.