SOLAR PANELS

A solar panel which is sometimes referred to as a solar module or solar cell is designed to convert sunlight into electricity. This form of energy is one of the leading forms of renewable technology, which recently became the cheapest form of electricity the world has ever produced. 

It’s no wonder that so many are looking at solar energy for their businesses or for their home. It’s no longer just a great source of renewable energy, but also makes financial sense as the cheapest electricity source.

INTRODUCTION TO SOLAR ENERGY

There are different types of solar panels, which have various special aspects, designed for a variety of different homes and businesses. 

When selecting the right panel for your solar installation, a firm understanding of the different types of products will give you an advantage in producing higher output. A quick way to ensure quality is to look for the Silicon Module Super League brands. These are the leading global solar manufacturers and acts as a mark of trust within the industry. 

It’s important to remember that the better output / higher efficiency solar cells will save you money on installation, whilst achieving your energy goals in a smaller space. We’re going to explore the best types of solar modules to give you all the information you need to upgrade your energy. 

 

OUR TRUSTED BRANDS

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SOLAR PV SIZES

The size of solar panels is always a crucial consideration for homeowners and businesses alike, given the physical constraints of roof space. They typically come in a range of between 60-72 cell modules. 

The industry is seeing a trend towards larger modules. However, it’s important to remember that solar energy is not necessarily linked to size alone. The performance is all about the amount of solar cells within the actual panel. 

You can easily design your solar system based upon the roof space available. Knowing that the efficiency of the solar module is the key factor.

 

WHAT COLOUR FOR YOUR SOLAR PANEL

Historically, the solar cells in the centre of a solar panel did not cover the entire panel. That meant it required a border around the cell. 

However, over time the manufacturers have driven the technology forward, meaning now you can get entirely black, sleek solar panels. These are particularly important for homeowners, who understandably want their solar to look good. 

For commercial solar, many often opt for a more traditional design, with the border. This is because it keeps costs down slightly, which is felt more over their scale. As well as this, lots of commercial installs do not require the same level of aesthetics. So, they can make an easy compromise to save on cost.

 

WHAT TYPES OF SOLAR CELLS

We’re going to get a little technical, but it’s all really useful information if you’re looking to upgrade your solar. We’ve included a quick summary here for those just seeking the topline information: 

  • Monocrystalline: All-black solar panels
  • Polycrystalline: Blue-tinge solar panels
  • PERC: Higher-efficiency solar technology
  • Half-Cell: Less micro-cracks, with better performance in shaded areas
  • Bifacial: Absorbs from both the front and back of the panel

 

MONOCRYSTALLINE

Monocrystalline or ‘Mono’ cells are manufactured by cutting single sheets from a silicon bar, hence the name. These single crystal cells allow for greater movement of electrons resulting in slightly higher efficiency and the colouration of such cells tends to be black.

POLYCRYSTALLINE

The Polycrystalline or ‘Poly’ manufacturing process involves melting fragments of silicon into wafer sheets. This design doesn’t allow the electrons to flow as freely as when on a single sheet due to multiple crystals being present within the cells. The overall difference in efficiency is not significant. It is usually around 2-3% on most modules of the same rating. Polycrystalline tends to have a more blue colour tinge, and appears less uniform.

Monocrystalline or ‘Mono’ cells are manufactured by cutting single sheets from a silicon bar, hence the name. These single crystal cells allow for greater movement of electrons. This results in slightly higher efficiency and the colouration of such cells tends to be black.

PERC

PERC or ‘Passive Emitter and Rear Cell/Contact’ cells are manufactured in a similar process to monocrystalline cells but have an integrated passivation layer. This increases efficiency by allowing light refraction through the back of the cell, and by reducing heat absorption and electron recombination. Put simply they offer higher efficiency than standard cells and are likely to perform better for a longer time.

HALF-CELL

Half-cell modules are a relatively new addition to the market. These modules can be recognised by the busbar running across the centre of the panel. This allows for the module to be separated, doubling the number of cells and making them smaller. Thus, a 60-cell panel can become a 120-cell module. Smaller cells reduce mechanical strain, meaning microcracks occur less frequently. Reducing the impact of microcracks reduces the module degradation rate over the system lifetime. When you take into consideration that many Half-Cell modules are using PERC technology, these panels are really designed to last.

BIFACIAL

Bifacial panels are designed to absorb light reflected from behind the panel. To do so they have cells mounted on the front and rear of the module. Instead of an opaque backsheet, this is transparent or translucent to allow for as much light to pass through as possible. This light is reflected from the roof/ground surface and is then picked up by the cells mounted on the rear of the panel. To maximise this refracted light, it is important to only choose Bifacial when the proper design criteria are met.

Bifacial modules shouldn’t be mounted flush to a residential tile roof. For example, in this scenario, the roof tiles are generally dark and will not reflect much light. If the modules are mounted flush to the tiles, the light will be blocked by the cells themselves. The best scenario is a flat roof with light-coloured roofing material, with the panels being mounted at an angle, a fixed distance above the roof itself.

 

SOLAR MANUFACTURERS

There are hundreds of solar panel manufacturers in the world. Most claim to make top-quality panels that will last for 25 years or more. It’s important to select a manufacturer that will still be in business for the 10-year warranty period. To honour that warranty – we call this ‘bankability’.

With major brands like Canadian Solar, JA Solar, JinkoSolar, and others you can be confident they’ll be around for the long term. We also have panels from world-leading manufacturers like LG who offer a 25-year panel warranty!

The top 7 solar panel manufacturers make over 50% of the total panels worldwide and form what is known as the Silicon Module Super League (SMSL). It is highly recommended that you choose one of these brands to give you the best chance of long-term reliability and performance.

 

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