Type Of Solar Panel: Mono Vs Poly Vs Amorphous
Modern solar panels are made from silicon solar cells, which are either monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon solar cells.
Both are similar in terms of energy output, although panel efficiency is typically slightly higher in monocrystalline solar panels.
Theres also a third, less common type of solar module: amorphous solar panels. They are cheaper, but also produce much less power.
Monocrystalline solar panels
These are the most expensive and efficient panels on the market. The cells contain pure silicon and undergo a complicated process of growing long crystal silicon rods as theyre being constructed. The rods are sliced into nearly translucent wafers and formed into cells.
Polycrystalline solar panels
These panels are comprised of multiple polycrystalline cells. They’re slightly less efficient, but more affordable. The cells are processed differently, giving them the appearance of shattered glass. This product is also cut into very thin slices.
Amorphous solar panels
The cells are not crystals, but rather a thin layer of silicon secured to a base material such as glass or metal. While these panels are the least expensive, they also produce far less electrical power.
Calculate the solar panel power output you need to power your home
Choosing The Best Solar Panels Points To Consider
When shopping around to get the best value from your solar panel rebate, one of the points that will set different installers apart is the type and brand of PV module they recommend to use in the installation.
So how do you assess what the best solar panels are for you? Here are some of the factors you should weigh up in making your choice:
What Are The Factors Affecting The Size Of Solar Panels
Solar panels are flexible when their size can be reduced substantially while retaining or increasing the energy they emit. However, there remain certain factors that affect or influence the size of solar panels.
Lets take a look at these factors to determine whether it is a good idea to reduce the size of solar panels.
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Quantity Of Solar Cells
Every solar cell present in the solar panel enables the conversion of sunlight into electricity. The photovoltaic cells present in the solar panels can be manufactured in various sizes. The size of these cells can be small enough to fit within solar digital watches.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that a single photovoltaic cell cannot generate too much power. One photovoltaic cell can only produce up to 0.5V of power. Consequently, to produce more power, a series of solar cells are wired together.
This will ultimately lead to a higher voltage and, thus, higher power outputs. So, inferring from the information given above, solar panels are an assimilation of multiple photovoltaic solar cells. These cells are wired parallel in a series to increase the output of current and voltage.
The commonly available commercial solar panels typically come with 36, 60, 72, or 96 cells. As you may have already guessed, the number of cells in a solar panel will determine the size of a solar panel.
So, if there are more cells in a solar panel, the panel will have a greater length or width. In some cases, both the length and width might be large.
Efficiency Of Different Solar Pv Cell Types
Polycrystalline – 15 to 18%
Polycrystalline PERC – 17 to 19.5%
Monocrystalline PERC – 17.5 to 20%
Monocrystalline N-type – 19 to 20.5%
Monocrystalline N-type HJT – 19 to 21.7%
Monocrystalline N-type IBC – 20 to 22.6%
* Approximate average solar PV cell efficiency comparison chart – Mono and poly silicon types
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Differences Between Commercial And Residential Solar Power
Company owners and homeowners are increasingly looking to switch to solar energy. There are four major aspects of solar energy systems that determine whether theyre commercial or residential: efficiency, size, installation, and color.
Whats The Science Behind Solar Panels And Temperature
Even in below-freezing weather, solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. Thats because solar panels absorb energy from our suns abundant light, not the suns heat. In fact, cold climates are actually optimal for solar panel efficiency.1 So long as sunlight is hitting a solar panel, it will generate electricity. Any diminished output during the winter months will primarily be due to heavy snow and shorter daylight hours.
So, how do solar panels work? When sunlight photon particles hit solar panel photovoltaic cells, electrons in the silicon are put into motion. This creates an electric current, which is sent to your homes electric distribution box to power your essential items.2 A rechargeable solar battery can help store this electricity so you can still use solar energy at night, during peak electricity usage, or when the grid goes down.
Remember how electrons move around atoms? Electrons are at rest in cooler temperatures. When these electrons are activated by increasing sunlight , a greater difference in voltage is attained by a solar panel, which creates more energy. Thats why solar cells produce electricity more efficiently when its colder.3
In the winter, its also less likely for solar panels to reach their peak temperature, or peak power.4 Once their temperature rises above that peak temperature, solar panel performance decreases.
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How Many Kwh Can Your Solar Panels Produce The Complexities Of Production Ratios
The amount of power your solar energy system can produce depends on how much sunlight exposure your roof receives, which in turn creates your production ratio. The amount of sunlight you get in a year depends on both where you are in the country, and what time of year it is. For instance, California has more sunny days annually than New England. But in either location, youll be able to produce enough power to cover your energy needs and say goodbye to your utility billsif you live in an area that gets less peak sunlight hours, youll just need to have a larger solar array system installed at your home. Thus, production ratios differ according to geographic location and a lower production ratio means youll need more solar panels to get the amount of energy production you need.
Factors That Can Impact Efficiency
Solar power efficiency depends on a variety of factors including proper installation and assessment of the structure. Hiring a professional to inspect the structural design and location of your building is essential in determining what type of installation will best meet your requirements and provide you with the long-term economic benefits of solar power. Empire Renewable Energy offers a range of services for commercial and residential applications:
- Most solar panels are designed with a layer of protective glass over the cells, which sunlight must pass through. The amount of energy harnessed is dependent on the angle in which light is passing through, as well as the reduction of reflectivity of the glass.
- Proper installation of a solar panel is significant to capturing the maximum amount of sunlight. The angle of the panel and the amount of light hitting it are both important factors that will help you maximize efficiency.
- For roof mounted panels, the slope of the roof will impact how much sunlight is hitting the panels throughout the day. Large commercial installations can compensate for the movement of the Earth by installing solar tracking systems, but due to the expense, they are not typically installed for residential use.
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Can You Increase A Solar Panels Output Or Efficiency
Theres no way to increase the solar panel output and efficiency a solar panel was designed to achieve.
What you can do is make sure that the solar panels are performing as efficiently as possible this is achieved by performing routine cleaning. Dust, debris, and snow can lower the efficiency of the panels, so youll want to keep them clean.
Myth #: Solar Panels Are Not That Green
This myth gets stirred up every now and then, but is notbacked up by any tangible data. What thedata does show is that the emissions of solarpanels are far less than the emissions relating to coal or naturalgas energy.
The overall emissions seem greater than they are since solarpanels require all of their energy up-front. But when dispersed over 30 years of emission-free generation, they proveto be much cleaner than the common alternatives.
Even when the energy to mine, clean, process, andmanufacture the solar panels is taken into account, the overall emissionintensity is 3x to 10x less than traditional fossil fuels.
Besides the emissions benefits, solar panels have an energypayback period of about 2 to 3 years according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This is about 40%faster than a standard coal-fired power plant will pay back its energy.
No energy generation method is without its faults, there are many positiveand negative environmental impacts of solar power.
Key Takeaway: Solar panels produce far less emissions perkWh of energy than coal or natural gas and payback their energy faster thancoal or natural gas.
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Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance
When weighing solar energy pros and cons before making an investment, one of the most common questions that homeowners have is whether their solar panels will require maintenance.
For the most part, all the hard work comes on the front end. Installing a home solar system requires in-depth knowledge of electronics as well as solar power, and in most cases, a solar installation will take a few days. We recommend outsourcing this to trained solar professionals.
Once your system is in place, however, the level of upkeep required is fairly minimal. Besides routine cleaning, you shouldn’t have any issues that require maintenance with your solar panels for 20 to 30 years. And if you do run into an issue, your warranty will hopefully cover it.
How Big Are Solar Cells
Lately, manufacturers started to experiment with different individual solar cells sizes in order to reach higher solar panel efficiencies and performance.
Nowadays, the market is dominated by two solar cell sizes:
- 5 W x 5 L
- 6 W x 6 L
The 5 are mostly used by Sun Power in their 96-cells panels, making that panel to look like a common 60-cells one.
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How Is Solar Panel Efficiency Calculated
When youre shopping for solar panels, the efficiency rating will be listed on the panels datasheet. But how exactly is that efficiency rating calculated?
All solar panels are tested at an operating temperature of 25°C with solar irradiance of 1,000 watts per square meter. These are called Standard Test Conditions, or STC for short.
So, to find the efficiency of a panel under STC, divide the power rating by the area of the panel times the irradiance, times 100.
But the solar panels on your roof wont be operating under STC. In the real world, the irradiance level and temperature will vary and change your panels efficiency.
Most Efficient Solar Panels Offered By Empire
SunPower modules have a 40-year lifespan, and their solar cells offer the best performance on the market with an operating efficiency of up to 24 percent. If you utilize SunPower solar cells, you’ll see a faster return on your investment with approximately 20 percent more energy output over similar products.
With some of the highest ratings in the industry, SunPower offers superior performance and longevity when compared to similar sized panels. SunPower also holds the world record for the highest efficiency silicon solar panel.
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Solar Panels And Cold Weather States
Based on research across winter locations, solar is a proven economic energy solution in northern climates.12 Massachusetts and New Jersey were in the top ten states with solar installations in 2018.13 In 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association ranked New York in the top ten states for solar installations.14 Solar panels are even used in Alaska and U.S. facilities like McMurdo Station in Antarctica.15
Your home doesnt need to be in California, Arizona, or Florida to make the most out of solar. Solar panels clearly and consistently demonstrate that they can generate electricity in snow and extremely cold climates.
Manufacturing Country Of Origin
Some people insist the best solar panels are made in Germany and all Chinese solar panels are crap. Follow that previous link for a deeper discussion on this, but frankly I find that talk borderline xenophobic.
You may have reasons for not buying Chinese products and Im not going to get into a debate on the topic. However, as far as quality is concerned, some Chinese brands are just fine, great even. Some are crap, but if you think Chinese is synonymous with low quality, what do you think about your iPad or your Macbook Pro? Yep, made in China and theyre both pretty high-quality, sophisticated devices.
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The Advantages Of Efficiency
This advancement of solar panel efficiency has made the technology more attractive to homeowners. In the past, when solar panels were less efficient, more panels, which were physically larger, were required to reduce or eliminate the amount of electricity the homeowner was buying from the utility. Due to lack of roof space, many homeowners could not fit enough of these low efficiency, large panels to produce enough power to reduce their electric bill enough to make solar worth the investment.
Now, as efficiencies have gone up dramatically, homeowners can purchase less panels, that are physically smaller, and produce just as much or more power than older systems made up of larger panels. This has several implications, of course, the most important being that the return on investment is much quicker as the homeowner doesnt need to purchase as many panels.
Requiring less panels, and therefore less roof space, is not only beneficial to the return on investment. The extra space also presents homeowners with the option of adding an extra panel or two – which can produce enough power to offset extra energy expenses like a heated pool or electric car. Some homeowners will get an extra panel or two installed in anticipation of a future energy usage increase, like a kid coming home from college, elderly parent moving in, etc. This would not be possible before when you needed large, inefficient panels that would occupy your entire roof just to offset your basic bill.
Impact On Electricity Network
With the increasing levels of rooftop photovoltaic systems, the energy flow becomes 2-way. When there is more local generation than consumption, electricity is exported to the grid. However, an electricity network traditionally is not designed to deal with the 2- way energy transfer. Therefore, some technical issues may occur. For example, in Queensland Australia, more than 30% of households used rooftop PV by the end of 2017. The famous Californian 2020 duck curve appeared often for a lot of communities from 2015 onwards. An over-voltage issue may result as the electricity flows from PV households back to the network. There are solutions to manage the over voltage issue, such as regulating PV inverter power factor, new voltage and energy control equipment at the electricity distributor level, re-conducting the electricity wires, demand side management, etc. There are often limitations and costs related to these solutions.
When electric networks are down, such as during the October 2019 California power shutoff, solar panels are often insufficient to fully provide power to a house or other structure, because they are designed to supply power to the grid, not directly to homes.
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Myth #: Its Too Cold For Solar Panels In Canada To Work
This can easily be a subset of Myth #1 since it follows asimilar logic path. The biggest reasonthis is not true is that solar panelsoperate more efficiently in cold weather.
The cold weather actually increases the efficiency ofelectrical current transmission throughout all electrical devices by reducingthe resistance of the wiring.
For example a solar power system will operate at 29% betterthan its rating when it is -45oC according to Gordon Howell ofHowell-Mayhew Engineering. So coldweather is actually extremely beneficial for solar energy systems.
There are days when it is too cold for certain inverters to turn on but those days are few and far between. Most inverters have an operating temperaturerange of -40oC to +60oC so below or above these extremes will adversely affectenergy output. Here in Canada, -40 isfar more common than +60. This is not amajor issue though for similar reasons as cited in myth #1.
Since the solar irradiance in winter is much lower than summer,the rare event of an inverter not turning on does not adversely affect theoutput. Additionally, inverters are often housed inside and willnever be subject to such extreme temperatures.
Key Takeaway:Solar panels operate better in cold climates, so much so that engineers mustplan for cold weather generation.