Solar panels can be a very wise investment to make, but since they are one that pays back gradually over time, you need to think carefully about what brand of solar panels you want installed. There is a level of trade-off when choosing which type of solar panel to purchase too, since the more expensive brands tend to be more efficient, so will generate more electricity long-term. It all depends on exactly what you need for your home.
Solar cell efficiency could be described as value for money. How much electricity does the solar panel generate? All types of solar panels will ultimately save you money, but some will save you considerably more than others. The main caveat of opting for the most efficient model is that the initial investment is much larger – so just how efficient you want your solar panel to be may depend on your budget.
Look at the efficiency records of the suppliers you are considering, as it is always worth researching as much as you can when investing at this level. Another method of measuring the efficiency of a unit is inverter efficiency, which generally doesn’t vary much between solar panel brands. You want a peak efficiency figure of around 98%.
Not only do you want good efficiency records, but you want a good warranty. The solar cell is a long-term investment and should still be operating efficiently 20 years down the line, so make sure it comes with a guarantee.
There are three main types of PV solar panels: Thin Film Solar Cells (TFSC), Monocrystalline Solar Cells and Polycrystalline Solar Cells.
TFSC are made from amorphous silicone, these cells are flexible and non-crystalline. These solar panels are versatile and their performance isn’t hindered by temperature and shade to the same degree as other solar panels. However, they require a large amount of space, and aren’t as efficient as other types.
Monocrystalline Solar Cells are made from one large, high-grade silicone block cut into individual wafers. These take up less space and have very high efficiency (as well as performing well in high temperatures), but since production of these cells is more labour-intensive, they are more expensive.
Polycrystalline Solar Cells are formed by melting multiple silicone crystals together – this manufacturing process means less silicone is wasted, so these cells are cheaper. However, these cells do not perform well in high temperatures, and are less efficient.
Most residencies have limited available space for a solar panel, based on the size of their roof. Therefore, the size of the solar cell is important, as well as its weight and the strength of the roof. If you have a small roof with very limited space, a smaller Mono-crystalline Solar Cell may be right for you. You also need to consider how hard it will be to get planning permission for the solar panel, and how big you plan the unit to be could make a difference.
There are other factors which can impact your choice of PV system, such as whether you would want to upgrade the cell further down the line to a more efficient model, or whether you plan to sell power back to the local grid to help your return on investment? Most importantly, you need to research all of these factors when looking at investing in a solar cell. Pay attention to any special features associated with the type of solar cell you are looking at to make sure it meets your requirements and does exactly what you need it to do.