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 solar power for their home. Its 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

SolarEdge for segen JA solar Segen Jinko Solar Logo for Segen homepage q cells logo for segen canadian solar logo
Panasonic Logo for Segen Homepage LG Solar logo for Segen homepage Viridian Logo longi logo for code grid rec group logo for code grid

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, but it is 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. 

By knowing this, 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 functional part of the solar panel, the solar cells in the centre, did not fill the entire area of the 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 here. It’s really useful information if you’re looking to upgrade your solar, but 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

 

solar cells

 

 

 

 

 

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 does not 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, 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 resulting 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 separates the module and allows for the number of cells to be doubled and made smaller, meaning a 60 cell panel would become a 120 cell module. Smaller cells reduce mechanical strain, meaning microcracks occur less frequently. Reducing the impact of microcracks reduces the rate of module degradation over the system life-time. 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 and 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. In order to maximise on this refracted light, it is important to only choose Bifacial when the proper design criteria is met. Bifacial modules should not 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 and if the modules are mounted flush to the tiles, light will be blocked by the cells themselves. The best scenario is a flat roof with a 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 all of whom will claim to make top quality panels that will last for 25 years or more. They will all offer a warranty of 10 years or more but it is important to select a manufacturer who you can be confident will still be in business in 10 years to honour that warranty – we call this ‘bankability’.

With major world brands like Canadian Solar, JA Solar, JinkoSolar and others you can be confident they will 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 best the chance of long-term reliability and performance.

 

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