Choosing a quality solar panel for your home solar system from numbers of models & hundreds of manufacturers can be a daunting task. Needless to say, a comparison can help you select the right things. This can be applicable here too. The next question “How do I compare the Solar Panels?” No worry here is a guide on how to compare panels on the basis of quality, reliability, efficiency, performance, power tolerance, warranty, and temperature co-efficiency.
With this guide, you can compare the solar panels efficiently and the chance of getting a good product is high. Before starting, let me clear one thing, there is a minor difference between monocrystalline & polycrystalline. So, do not get tempted by the salesman.
So, shall we start?
Tiers of Solar Panel Quality:
The very first thing you need consider is the materials used to manufacture the products. The solar panel manufacturers are categorized in 3: Bottom, Medium and High. Tier 1 includes the top 2% of solar panel manufactures and such companies invest a giant chunk of a fund in R&D. These companies manufacture the panels for more than 5 years and use the advanced robotic processes.
Tier 2 & 3 manufacturers are considered in small and medium-sized businesses that produce panels in Australia. Such panels are riskier however, a few tier 2 companies manufacture good quality solar panels.
FYI, more than 80% of tier 2 & tier 3 planes are junk. Do I need to explain further “which one is better for your solar system?”
See the approved list of solar modules by The Clean Energy Council (CEC) Australia
Solar Panel Warranty
Generally, the warranty period for the solar panels in Australia is around 10 years and also known as the product warranty. It is given by the manufacturers that protect the buyers against material failures and other manufacturing defects. It means a manufacturer must either repair or replace the solar panels which stop working within the warranty period. Some manufacturers offer product warranty for 15, 20 or even 25 years.
It refers to the “power output warranty” and ensures that a solar panel produces a pre-defined power output after a specific period of time. The standard retained power output after 25 years is around 80% but some high-end manufacturers guarantee 85% to 92% output even after 25 years o life.
Don’t forget to include this while comparing solar panels. The higher the warranty period is, the more time your solar panels stay safe.
Although the panels are specially designed to acquire heat from the sun, the intensive heat can reduce the capacity of panels to generate power. The test for temperature coefficient is tested at 77°F which is a standard temperature. The standard panels may reduce the electricity 1% on every 4°F temperature rise above the standard temperature (77°F). The less temperature-sensitive panels will perform better even after a long time.
So, check for solar panel reviews and rating for the temperature coefficient. This is essential if you live in a mostly heated area in Australia.
Generally, most of the devices have a power tolerance of +/- 3%. That’s common and not a big issue in operation. For example, if you have a 300W solar panel with 3% tolerance; the real wattages could be ranging from 291W to 309W. Today, quality panels have only a positive power tolerance means the power wattage will never go below the standard Wattage mentioned on the product.
If we take the above example, the panel power wattage will never less than 291W. That’s really a great thing.
I strongly recommend you to choose solar panels that have “positive only” power tolerance. And do not forget to ask for the “flash test certificate” for knowing that power tolerance is positive only.
Agree that efficiency is not a giant factor for comparison but should be considered once. Above 17% efficiency is fine. A more efficient panel does not generate more electricity because it’s just a small part on your roof. Do not stress about efficiency; it’s just a small thing.
Let’s understand this with a simple example.
If you have a panel with 300W output & a performance ratio is 90%; your actual power output will be 270W. 90% performance ratio is quite good while more than 92% is excellent.
Considering the above factors while comparing solar panels each other; you will get the right solar panels for your home and get the maximum output for longer times. We just hope that you will get what you pay for.