Solar Panels: What You Need to Know
When it comes to solar panels, the available information along with industry terminology can be overwhelming. This page will assist you with the following;
- The solar panel checklist
- Introduction to our range of quality solar panels
- The 3 primary panel types
- Understanding the Tier System in relation to panel manufacturers
- Important Components and Terms relating to solar panels
1. The Solar Panel Checklist
The major points you should consider when considering a solar system are:
- Choosing an actual Solar Installation company rather than a Solar Marketing company. The first uses their own installation teams, the second will use anyone to install the product they try to sell you.
- The performance ratio of the solar panels, as this relates to the return on your investment (this includes positive tolerance, temperature co-efficient rating and efficiency – see point 5);
- How the panels perform in your specific location; this includes sunlight hours, shading issues, etc
- Compare the warranty details of the solar panels you are considering;
- Learn more on the company history that manufactures the panels; and the installation company
- Consider the reliability and performance of the inverter as this determines how efficiently you convert DC current into AC current for use in your home or business.
2. Our range of High Performing Solar Panels
We carry a selected range of well-priced, quality solar panels, including
Seraphim Solar Panels: The Premium, #1 Performing Solar Panel In The Photon Laboratory Field Test over 2 years.
Seraphim Energy are a premium solar module manufacturer, specialising in the highest quality solar panel and solar cell technology which is currently available. Seraphim solar is not only a Tier 1 company but the panels are now the number one performing panel installed over two years in the independent Photon International solar module field test. See here for details. Seraphim are renown for the best product warranty on their panels as well as being the only panel available in Australia that has passed the TüV SüD Thresher test which includes PID.
WINAICO Solar Panels: A European option with high returns
WINAICO is a German-based company with module manufacturing operations based in Taiwan. The panel is not only from a Tier 1 company, but the manufacturing process meets stringent German standards creating an extremely durable panel that produces power in even the harshest conditions. WINAICO are a premium solar panel manufacturer for customers who prefer a European option. They are owned by Win Win Precision Technology and are consistent in their product quality and excellent customer service. The solar panel warranties boast a guaranteed power output of more than 97% in the first year and no more than 0.7% p.a. degradation for the next 24 years.
Luxen Solar Panels: Luxpower LNSE 250P Hyperpower Polycrystalline Module.
Luxen Luxpower 250P Hyper Power is a Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon cell based solar panel. Luxen Solar Panels are manufactured by Luxen, a professional manufacturer of high-quality solar power products and provider of solar power systems. With its ISO 9001 & 14001 accredited manufacturing factory based in Suzhou, China, Luxen designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar products worldwide. The Luxen Luxpower solar modules have the CE statement of approval and the IEC 61215 & IEC 61730 certificates issued by TüV NORD.
3. Types of Solar Cells Used:
There are 3 main types of solar cells and the best solar cells for you will vary depending on your climatic conditions:
- Monocrystalline silicon offers high efficiency but are more susceptible to the effects of heat i.e. they are ideal for a more temperate climate rather than the heat and extremes of the Australian climate.
- Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon cell based solar panels are now the most popular choice in residential installs due to the lower cost and efficiency improvements. For the Australian climate, polycrystalline are the ideal choice as they are more heat tolerant. Seraphim panels are one of the best example of this, having been the first panel to pass the new TUV SUD Thresher Test which is designed to put a solar panel through its paces.
- Amorphous (or thin-film) silicon uses the least amount of silicon. The panels are usually larger in size and again the high heat conditions in Australia can adversely affect their performance.
4. Understanding the Tier System for comparing Solar Panels Manufacturers
When choosing the best solar panels, it is important to consider both how it is manufactured, the materials used and the quality. The 3 tier system relates to the manufacturers producing solar panels. SAE Group only supplies solar panels from the top two tiers.
The first tier only includes the top 2 percent of PV solar panels manufacturers. These manufacturers are vertically integrated, which simply means they control each stage of the manufacturing process. For these companies to achieve a spot in the first tier, they must:
- Significantly invest in Research and Development
- Use advanced robotic processes throughout the manufacturing stage
- Have been manufacturing Solar Panels for over 5 years
These first tier producers are required to use the best grade of silicon in their production of solar cells. The higher the silicon grade, the longer the solar cell will last and the better it will perform.
Tier one manufacturers are considered to produce some of the best performing solar panels. We are proud to supply Seraphim Solar, Risen Solar Panels and Winaico Panels. All three brands are Tier 1 ranked companies.
However, it is important to note SAE Group’s top performing independently tested solar panels is manufactured by Seraphim Solar. Seraphim Solar Panels are considered by industry experts as the top solar panel manufacturer. This is backed up by their very impressive performance with the Photon International’s annual performance and yield test. In their second year of participating in this test, Seraphim topped the rankings. This is after placing second in their debut year. Seraphim Solar Panels should be a major consideration when comparing solar panels. For more information in regards to this, please read the article in the Solar International Magazine
The second tier includes those companies who are required to:
- invest in research and development (not to the same extent as Tier 1 manufacturers)
- Employ both robotic and human personnel on production lines
- Have often been in solar panel manufacture for 2 – 5 years.
Generally, Tier two manufacturers produce good panels at good prices but most importantly they have only been involved in SOLAR manufacturing for less than 5 years.
The final and third tier encompasses 90% of new solar PV manufacturers. These companies assemble panels only, they usually don’t manufacture their own cells and don’t invest in research and development. They use human production lines for manual soldering of solar cells, which often isn’t the best approach as quality can vary operator to operator and day to day.
5. Important Components and Terms for Solar Panels
Cost Vs. Value – Other Factors
As not all panels and module manufacturers are equal, there are a variety of other factors that should influence your purchase decision rather than focusing solely on cost and the Tier level of the panel.
This is the range a panel will either exceed or not meet its rated power. For example, a solar module may have a ‘nameplate’ wattage of 200 watts; but due to quality control issues, may in reality only be 195 watts. A positive tolerance rating means the panel will not only generate 200 watts, but perhaps more under standard testing conditions.
The temperature co-efficient rating is important to determine what the impact heat has on a solar panel’s operation and an important consideration living in the hotter Australian climate.
The efficiency of how a solar panel converts light into electrical energy will determine how much power your system generates.
Durability / Longevity / Warranty
The 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 a manufacturers warranty between 10 -12 years. Added to this is the performance warranty of the panel, which ranges between 12 – 15 years to still produce 90% of its rated output. There is then a 25 – 30 year warranty to still produce 80% of its rated output.
However, an important point to remember about warranty is that it will only be honoured for as long as the company operates. So an important consideration is a panel that then has an external insurance cover with a reputable company. It’s another reason to select a well known brand of solar panel rather than an obscure low-cost brand that may disappear overnight. As you most likely won’t be able to buy panels directly from the manufacturer, your selection of installer and retailer is also important. It’s best to choose an Solar company that does its own installations and services rather than a solar marketing company. This way, if you were to strike a problem, the turnaround time to a resolution is dramatically reduced.
Size and Watts
The size of the solar panel in Watts will directly affect the cost, as solar panels are usually priced (and compared) in dollars per Watt. Watts are related to the output of each panel; meaning under ideal conditions a 200 Watt panel will generate 200 watt-hours of electricity each hour.
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 sizing is enough to cover your day time electricity use, and that the solar panels will physically fit on your available roof space.
Your northerly facing roof space is very valuable solar power real estate, so you’ll need to consider carefully your future plans. If you believe at some stage you will wish to install more solar panels, you need to ensure you’ll have the space to do so. Otherwise you may find you’ll need to place the newer panels in either the east or west roofline which will reduce the yield.