What to look for in Solar Panels


Here are a few tips for getting a great solar panel system.

1. Use Tier 1 manufacturers of panels.  This is the best way to ensure they will be around long enough to honour their warranties which are 25 years. There are Tier 1, 2, and 3.  Tier 3 being the worst rating.  With so many solar panel manufacturers coming and going and flooding the market with cheap no name panels only to close up shop in a year or two to avoid honouring their warranties, you should stick to Tier 1 panel makers. There has been numerous solar installers who tried to make a quick profit selling cheap solar panels only be forced to close shop or go bankrupt as well when the panels they sold cheaply start to need warranty replacement and the manufacturer is long gone.

2. Measure the warranties offered on Solar panels as this will usually indicate quality.  There are two primary types of warranties.


Output warranty (25 years)

A) Staggered-  this is the older style warranty and the least comprehensive.  typically around 90 or 92% from year 1 to year 10-  then dropping to 80 or 82% from year 11 to year 25.

this warranty is not very good and most reputable solar panel manufacturers have increased their warranties from this.  Those that still have this older warranty should be avoided.

B) Linear-  This is the newer warranty most quality manufacturers have moved to.  year one is 97 or 97.5 % in year one and then drops .06 or .07% per year every year until ending in year 25 at 80 to 83%  (Qcell has the best warranty overall ending at 83% in year 25).  This superior warranty provides around 7% better guarantee overall for the life of the warranty.

Material workmanship warranty

A) Most manufacturers have a 10 year material workmanship warranty

B) Qcell has a 12 year material workmanship warranty.

3. Measure the power tolerence-this in laymans terms is a window that the panel voltage is allowed to fluctuate in.  The bigger the window the more harm could be incurred on the inverter.  The tighter the window the more stable the power provided is ensuring the inverter will last longer potentially. there are three general types.

A)-5/+5 – this is a very old measurement and most if not all tier 1 panel makers have improved this.

B) 0/+5 –  this is where most panel makers sit now ensuring no negative or brown power is incurred which is most dangerous to electronics.

C) 0/+3 – this is the best and tightest window.  Trina solar for example provides a very stable output to the inverter.  When multiplied over 10 or 20 panels these fluctuations become increasingly important to the inverter.

4. Power output (wattage)-  Although the panel says 250 watts solar panel, the output can vary from maker to maker. The output power is how much power is actually generated from the panel.  The general rule is the bigger the wattage of the panel the higher this figure should be.  when comparing power output use the same wattage panels to compare this.

5. Efficiency- this number will be very close for all manufacturers in tier 1 range.  Usually the larger the panel the more efficient it is.  So again when comparing efficiency try to compare a 250 watt panel against a 250 watt panel.

Price- depending on the above measurements and weather you want the absolute best of the best versus a good mid range priced panel that has good all around stats can only be decided by the person buying the panels.  All solar companies should be able to clearly define these measurements for each panel they offer so you can decided from an educated position.


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