Best Solar Panels – How to Make Your Choice?

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:

III-V cells and concentrators, since they have much higher efficiencies and yield.image thumb7 300x215 Best Solar Panels   How to Make Your Choice?

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.
regards

Lokesh J:

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:
http://www.renewable-energy-sources.com/2011/11/02/solar-photovoltaic-panels-comparison-chart/

Last Updated On:22nd May 2013

5 Responses to “Best Solar Panels – How to Make Your Choice?”

  1. SRoeCoSolar says:

    Good starting point on how to choose the best solar panels. I believe it is best to look at how much energy a total system will produce at a given cost.

    The panels that give the best output at the cheapest price (given the standard 25 year warranty) are the best panels to choose for a project.

    http://sroeco.com/solar/learn-solar/solar-panel-comparison/

    Here’s a link to a solar panel comparison chart with a little more explanation.

    Cheers,
    Shawn

  2. Eddy says:

    Thanks,
    This info might be very helpfull!
    Idd, making a choice is a ‘job’.

  3. Bev says:

    What about the “SolarWall Hybrid System”..it claims over 50% effeciency.

  4. Richard Harris says:

    Modules are NOT guaranteed to function for 25 years. Most modules now have a 10 year standard warranty that covers module failure in normal service. If your module stops working in year 11 however your 80% power output at 25 years guarantee is worthless.
    Any financial modelling needs to focus on 10 year payback to recover investment costs.
    Also there is a huge risk that many module manufacturers will go bust in the next 12 months in which case module guarantees will in many cases be useless.

  5. Richard Harris says:

    I have long been puzzled by the low relative performance of Sharp modules and their poor build quality.
    As a company with a 60 year PV manufacturing history the word complacent is the one that springs to mind.

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