It is not easy to find the best solar panels for your projects. There are so many manufactures which produce photovoltaic panels and cellss to choose from. If we research 10 of the biggest players on the market (FIRSTSOLAR, SCHOTT SOLAR, SHARP, PHOTOWATT, TENESOL, TRINASOLAR, SUNTECH, SUNPOWER etc) we can reach to the following preliminary conclusions:
Best Warranty: PHOTOWATT (12 years 90% power, 25 years 80%)
Best Yield: SUNPOWER (18%, 185Wc per m2)
Best Resistance to Temperature variations: SCHOTT SOLAR (-0.20% per degree – Thin Film)
- Best Power: TENESOL (240Wc on a single panel 1.6m2)
More things to consider:
Solfocus has recently mentioned that they have built PV Systems with an average efficiency of 25% and Concentrix uses commercial cells of 28,5% and module efficiency over 27%.
New aSi modules fabricated with Applied Material technologies and sizes above 5 m2 achieve 350Wp.
Albert Perry, Solar Electric Design Consultant:
Don’t forget about durability in your analysis of PV panels. Although not as efficient as most, durability and cost effectiveness leads me to install Sharp panels on 90% of my projects; I know they’ll last, Thin film panels are not proven and I’ve seen fading over a very short term(six months). Sharp is my choice when area is not a factor. Sanyo is my choice when area is a problem.
There are many factors which can effect your decision for the solar panels , I will classify them as
Technical: location, space / area / land available, technology options (thin film or crystalline) available, lifetime, degradation over the years, life time energy yield, etc
Investment and Cost: total investment required, cost breakups, operations & maintenance costs, payback period, return on the investment, cost of debt, etc
Govt Policies: feed in tariff, subsidy available, technology restriction if any, etc
It is very much important to give due consideration during the system selection and design phase keeping in mind that this investment is for 25 years, hence due consideration and input should be given.
Hope this helps you as a starting point to research the best Solar Panels for your projects and how to decide which manufacturer to contact.
Update 2011: You can find Photovoltaic Modules comparison table here:
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- List of Eligible SB1 Guidelines Compliant Photovoltaic Modules – Updated September 2010
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Solar Energy | April 6, 2009