Solar Panel Efficiency Explained
When consumers evaluate solar panels, they often focus on the advertised maximum power . This measurement represents a solar panels theoretical power production under ideal sunlight and temperature conditions.1 Think of it as the maximum amount of electricity a user can expect a solar panel to produce in an ideal solar environment. In truth, a solar environment is never ideal every day. Regional differences, as well as seasonal and weather changes, limit the value of the Pmax measurement when trying to determine the expected long-term performance of a newly installed solar array. It is important to consider the efficiency of a solar panel.
Solar Panel efficiency can be defined as the Ratio of Solar Panel Power and Size at Standard Testing Condition . Universally, STC is measured as 1,000W/m2 of sunlight, temperature of 25 deg C, and air mass of 1.5.
Below is an example of efficiency calculations for 60 cell and 72 cell:
LG NeON® 2 panels: NeON® 2 60 Cell: STC Power Rating- 340W/0.34kW
Length 1.686m Width 1.016m
0.34kW / m2 = 0.34 / 1.7129m2 = 19.8% Efficient
Panel Power = 0.34
Length = 1.686
NeON® 2 72 Cell: STC Power Rating- 405W/0.405kW Length 2.024m Width 1.024m
0.405kW / m2 = 0.34 / 2.0725m2 = 19.5% Efficient
Panel Power = 0.405
Length = 2.024
Width = 1.024
Theres Nowhere Else To Put Solar Panels
The roof is the most common place to put solar panels but its not the only place they can go.
You will find homeowners placing solar panels in other places, such as in their backyard or on secondary structure on their property.
If both of the circumstances below apply to you, then youre out of luck.
- Ground-mounting isnt possible for you: Ground-mounted solar refers to solar panels installed on the ground using special mounts to angle them towards the sun. While this may be an option for farms and ranches, it is rarely feasible in cities and suburbs where there is less open space to work with.
- No other structure available: The last option to consider are buildings like carports or sheds, or backyard structures like gazebos, pergolas and patio covers. If you dont have any of these, or they lack suitable surface areas, it means that youre going to hold off on solar panels for the time being.
Take The Needed Steps Towards A Greener Way Of Living
Making the switch to solar can seem daunting, but dont let it get the best of you. Considering the benefits they give to both the environment and your finances, there should be enough reasons for you to go for renewable energy. With this handy guide, it should be easier to take steps towards a greener way of life.
Visit our page to learn more about our solar panel systems.
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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost
According to SolarQuotes, these are the current price ranges for good quality solar panel systems:
- 3kW: $3,500 $5,000
- 6.6kW: $5,000 $9,000
- 10kW: $8,000 $12,000
Those prices include the usual rebates and incentives. Expect to pay the higher end of the range if you’re going for top-quality components or if your home has unusual installation requirements.
CHOICE tip: Compare prices for whole systems, not just individual panels.
Looking To Reduce Your Dependence On Traditional Power Sources Heres How To Figure Out Whether Solar Is For You
If youve been thinking about adding a solar power system to your home, you arent alone. Some 3 million systems sit atop American roofs, including about 400,000 that were installed each year in 2019 and 2020, according to Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Energy Department.
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Homeowners Can Enjoy Tax Benefits With Solar Panels
Currently, theres an initiative offered by the government called the solar tax credit. Its often referred to as the ITC , and you can use it to reduce your taxes. The whole aim of this tax credit is to let you save money on the installation of your solar energy system. You can claim back 30% of what it cost to install your panels and deduct it from your tax bill. Consequently, you can save thousands of dollars when you choose to go solar.
Questions About The Work Being Done
Installing the panels is the glamorous part, but the installation process has many other steps.
Once youve settled on the price and payment schedule, its time to think about the practical matter of getting this stuff on your roof and kicking out kilowatts.
Here are the questions to ask about the installation process:
- What are the steps of the installation process?
- How long will it take to complete the process, and what is the timeline?
- What if you dont finish the work on time?
- What guarantees do you offer for your work?
- What happens if a leak develops well after the panels have been installed?
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Other Equipment You’ll Need To Buy For Your Solar Panel System
An important note: For homeowners with limited surface area on their roofs, it may be necessary to get the most efficient panels possible. In other words, if you only have space for a small assembly of solar panels, you may need to make them monocrystalline.
If you’re doing your own installation, when you buy solar panels, you may also need to purchase the following:
- Inverter: Converts direct current solar energy into the alternating current electricity needed to power your home.
- Battery: Allows you to store excess energy for future use rather than feeding it back into the electrical grid.
- Mounting system: Helps you stabilize your solar panels in their proper rooftop position.
- Wiring: Connects your residential solar system to your electrical panel.
- Solar charge controller: Helps regulate voltage and prevent batteries from overcharging.
Which Installer Should You Go With
Always do more than enough research on the companies around you when youre ready to go solar. Look up customer reviews, read about their process online and call to ask them specific questions. Also, ask about their install process.
Solar panels should be aligned properly, and electrical wiring should be protected from the elements. Hiding it beneath panels adds an extra layer of protection. Dont forget to ask if they have any hidden installation fees.
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Who Actually Owns The Installation
The Rent a Roof model was more prevalent before 2012 when the government scrapped the 40p feed-in tariff.
Many installation firms adopted a short term business model whereby the lease was sold on to investment companies on the basis of future income.
It may be difficult to identify the lessor company and correspondence with this company during the conveyancing process may be frustrated.
Future Changes To The Electricity Market
The electricity grid in Australia wasn’t originally designed to cope with large numbers of homes exporting solar power into it. There are proposals for how to modernise the grid and manage it more effectively and fairly, and these include a possible surcharge or “solar tax” to owners of solar PV systems who want to sell their excess power to the grid. What’s this all about, and does it mean a storage battery becomes a better option?
What’s the problem with the electricity grid?
The electricity grid in Australia was originally built with the expectation that electricity went in one direction only, from power stations to homes and businesses. It wasn’t designed to also allow for solar-generated power to flow back the other way. While that’s been possible to a reasonable extent so far, the grid is starting to hit the limits of how much electricity it can handle from domestic rooftop solar.
The grid needs a lot of work to update it to become flexible enough to take full advantage of renewable energy sources including domestic solar feed-in, but also allow flexibility for all consumers. This work has to be paid for somehow. Currently, some consumers have little access to the benefits of solar power but must still pay for electricity, and to some extent they subsidise the benefits that solar owners obtain.
What’s the solution?
The proposal includes the option of a surcharge to solar PV system owners who export power to the grid .
When is all this going to happen?
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What You Need To Know Before You Install
- Just getting started? See our four steps to get started with solar.
- Want to find out fast which solar panels are the best? See the test summary from our previous tests of solar panels .
- Interested in a solar storage battery? See our solar battery guide for more on how they work and whether they might suit your home.
Solar panels are increasingly being installed by homeowners who are worried about rising electricity costs, and who want a system that both cuts their bills and produces greener energy. We explain what you need to know before installing a solar photovoltaic system on your roof.
On this page:
Diy Solar Panel Installation
Installing your own solar panels can potentially give you the opportunity to save money, and it also gives you greater control over the final configuration of your home solar system. Be aware, however, that there can be significant downsides.
First, this is complex, technical work, requiring careful knowledge of electrical installation and how solar panels work. If you’re unskilled or inexperienced working with electricity, solar installation can be difficult and dangerous. Additionally, going with DIY solar panels means you won’t reap the benefits of experienced solar designers, who can help you set up the optimal energy-generating, money-saving system.
If you do choose to buy solar panels and install them on your own, you can purchase panels from:
- Manufacturer websites
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Other Green Energy Sources
If your home isnt suited to solar panels or if you are not sold by the idea there are still a range of other effective green energy technology available to power your home. Heat pumps can be a great alternative to solar panels and Passivhaus buildings are also rising in popularity.
If you are interested in having solar panels in your home, then GreenMatch can help you with this process. Fill in the contact form and we will provide you with up to four specialised quotes from suppliers. The service doesn’t incur any obligation and is free of charge.
How To Calculate The Savings And Payback Of A Solar System
Exactly how much money solar power will save you depends on a few things:
- The size of your system, in kW
- The output of your solar power system
- Your self-consumption ratio. This is how much solar electricity you use in the home vs exports to the grid.
- Your feed-in tariff. These vary from retailer to retailer and state to state.
- Your usage tariff. This what you pay for grid electricity.
The main way solar power saves you money is by offsetting your grid electricity usage.
Lets say you pay 36 cents per kWh, as I do in Adelaide, and your solar power system generates one kWh to offset that. Youve just saved 36 cents.
But what if your system generates a kWh when your home does not need it? Its sent to the grid, and your retailer pays you a feed-in tariff.
Using my own plan as an example, Im paid 14 cents as a feed-in tariff by my retailer, AGL.
14 cents is less than half of 36 cents. So self-consuming my solar power saves me more than twice as much as exporting it does.
Now, imagine being somewhere like Perth. In Perth, you can only get an averaged 4 cent feed-in tariff and pay 28c for grid electricity.
So in Perth, self-consumed solar energy is worth seven times as much as exported solar electricity!
Here are some payback calculation examples for a 6.6 kW system. Theyre taken from my solar calculator using typical prices and usage patterns:
- Sydney: 3 years
- Darwin: 6 years, 4 months
- Hobart: 6 years
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Key Things To Know Before Installing Solar Panels
Thinking about going green and conserving energy by adding a solar rooftop? Powering your home with solar panels is cost-efficient and eco-friendly, but there are a few things you should know before you make the switch and install solar panels. Weve compiled the more important factors so you can decide what the best option is for you to start harnessing the power of the sun and start saving on energy.
Lets get started!
What You Need To Know Before Buying Solar Power System
If you are planning to make a switch to an alternative energy resource to minimize expenses on electricity bills or you are suffering from consistent power outages or scheduled load shedding and want an off grid electric source to power your home and office, you should know certain things before spending money on buying the required power device for that purpose. Solar energy systems are best alternative to traditional electric generators that can fairly cut short your monthly expenditure on electricity needs. Solar electric power setup does require an initial investment but you will get a permanent source of our own electricity generation. Good quality solar panels can last decades if not get broken or damaged. Charge controller and inverter both can also serve you several years before making any trouble. The only part of the whole setup that wears out faster is the batteries. So, you may need to change the batteries each year or after every few years. But again if you buy some high quality batteries, that repeated cycle of changing batteries will slow down.
There are several things you should be aware of if you have already made up your mind to buy a solar power unit for your need. I shall list them down so you could study them and make the correct decision before going to buy it. Like every other power source, solar electric source also requires a feasibility analysis. Once feasibility report is prepared, you may go ahead and buy your own solar electricity system.
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Batteries Do You Need Them
Solar batteries are great for energy security. The peace of mind from knowing that you will still have lights, refrigeration and other essential circuits no matter what happens to the grid can be priceless.
Batteries are also great fun. Seriously! There is something extraordinary about seeing your house run off nothing but battery power.
Batteries also provide a form of insurance against the risk of electricity prices going up and feed-in-tariffs going down.
A properly sized, correctly installed and configured solar battery can reduce your grid use by up to 95%, making you almost immune to electricity and feed-in tariff changes. To be clear no-one knows which way electricity prices and feed-in-tariffs will go. However, if you have a battery you wont care!
But these benefits come at a cost.
For example without a battery rebate it will cost around $10,000 to add a decent amount of quality energy storage to a solar power system in Australia. Take 30-50% off these costs if you live in VIC, ACT or SA and are eligible for your states battery rebate.
The typical payback period of an unsubsidised battery of that size is at least 15 years. Most batteries have a 10-year warranty.
Compare this with a solar energy installation without batteries. A regular non-battery solar power system has a typical payback of around 3-6 years and will last about 25 years.
Solar Panels Under A Lease Or Ppa: Questions To Ask
In this case, the solar panels are not owned by the homeowner, but the solar company. Leases and power purchase agreements are similar financing tools that both boil down to the same thing. The solar company installs solar panels on a home for little or no upfront cost, and the homeowner signs an agreement with the solar company to purchase electricity at some rate that should be lower than the utility rate.
This is the most complicated situation, and requires the prospective homebuyer to be careful. In order for the sale to be completed, the buyer will need to agree to take on the lease or PPA – otherwise, the seller will need to have the solar panels removed, usually at a significant cost. This can be a big headache for the seller, enough that it can cause a sale to fall through.
If youâre interested in keeping the panels and taking over the solar contract, you should go through the same questions as if you were exploring a new contract with the company. You can read our guide to solar financing to learn more, but here are some basic questions you should ask:
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What Should I Consider Before Buying Solar Panels
Buyers should insist that the installation company undertakes a physical site inspection. There are many variables that need to be considered and most of these are hard to spot from a satellite view of your house or a few photos. An installer’s willingness to visit you gives some indication that there is a service to support your purchase. We strongly advise you to buy your solar system from a local company, not an internet based solar sales agent.
If the company cannot find the time to see you when they want to sell you, what chance have you got for them to come when the system stops working?
In the past, when solar sales over the internet were skyrocketing, consumers purchased a solar power system without site inspection only to have their installer say they need special roof brackets or a total switchboard upgrade before the solar can be installed, adding unexpected costs for the consumer.
Our LG Authorised Dealers will come for a site inspection to check the roof position, discuss your electricity usage pattern, discuss monitor options and possibly conduct a shade analysis, to ensure you are putting your panels in the prime position.
Before making your decision, check who you should contact if you have questions after your installation or something isn’t working properly. Also make sure you to ask for a written warranty from the installation company for the cabling and installation work itself, not just the panels, inverter and mounting frame.