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Choosing Solar Panels. What You Need to Know!

written by Greg Shaw, Solar Energy Consultant and Managing Director, Hua Hin Solar Co., Ltd.

Good morning!

There has been talk about the “efficiency” of solar panels and what makes one panel better than another. The answer may surprise you. As long as you have very good quality panels from a reputable equipment supplier and installer “efficiency” is not as important, as other factors, in making a decision on what to buy. Why you ask? A solar panel is made up of solar cells. Each solar cell must be “efficient” enough to produce the rate power of the panel. So for our 285W or 340W premium mono crystalline panels, which have 60 and 72 solar cells respectively, each cell has to have a high enough efficiency so that collectively, all the cells working together can produce the rated 285W or 340W (within +/- 5W tolerance under standard testing conditions). So if a salesman tells you, ‘our panels have higher “efficiency” than other panels and therefore you should choose our panels’ … Be ‘buyer beware!’ And ask more questions.

Now here’s something interesting! The higher the cell & panel “efficiency” the more power the panel will produce – but again will be limited to the specified power output of the manufactured panel. The panel could also be made physically smaller in size and still output the same rated power – as again it’s solar cells are more “efficient.” So, for example, let’s take our Tier 1 Hyundai Energy panels. Because the cells of the Tier 1 panels have higher “efficiency” they produce 300W and 360W. And YES they are physically the same size as the 285W and 340W panels, respectively. They can produce up to 15W or 20W more power as they have higher “cell & panel efficiencies.”

So you might say the Tier 1 panels are the way to go. We say it depends on your budget as the Korean and Chinese Tier 1’s are a bit more in price. You are paying extra as Tier 1 panels are included in an elite grouping selected by the Bloomberg Energy Group in New York city for the solar panel company’s financial performance. The Tier 1 panels also perform better in higher temperatures. But if you are on a tight budget don’t worry, your system will still perform very well with either the premium or Tier 1 panels on your roof.

When choosing panels (and your supplier and or installer) your checklist should start off with, “Is the panel good quality and what are the panel warrantees?” “How have the other owner’s system performed with the panels?” Is there a stable supply in Thailand for warrantee replacement purposes?” “Do the black coloured solar cells look great – do they have silver or black frames?” “Do they come in different sizes to better fit your roof?” “When were they imported into Thailand?” We include this because panel warrantees and performance curves begin from the shipping ‘bill of laden’ and ‘date or manufacture.’ Ensure your supplier/installer has good turn over and that the panels have been sitting in a warehouse for weeks or months, not for over a year. Bear in mind that warehouses can have humid conditions and rather interesting wildlife (rodents, insects, cats, etc.) so being able to trust your supplier/installer, that they are always receiving new stock from the factory, is important. We have properly vetted our suppliers to ensure they have secure and well-kept warehouses/storage areas with environmental conditions suitable for short-term solar equipment storage. Our equipment supply is also supported by our parent company in Bangkok, Thailand. So this should all provide you with “peace-of-mind” when purchasing equipment and or solar system with our company.

As a further note: We were also recently warned that there are rather scrupulous distributors/suppliers in Asia have been taking old panels (even Tier 1 panels) from solar projects, refurbishing them and then selling them “on discount” as “new.” In some cases the panels have been in use on solar farms for years. If a salesman is giving you an unbelievably good deal on even ‘Tier 1’ panels … Again be ‘buyer beware!’

Now! Your Most Important Question Could be … [drum roll please] … Are the panels mono crystalline or poly/multi crystalline? If a sales person is telling you that his/her poly crystalline panels are higher in efficiency than mono crystalline panels and that’s why you should go with the poly’s … Be smart, be ‘buyer beware’ and ask more questions. Good quality mono crystalline panels TRUMP good quality poly/multi crystalline panels PERIOD!!! That’s because mono crystalline has far more and purer silicon content in the solar cells. Silicon is the key material which reacts with sunlight to make solar power. Mono crystalline panels start into action faster in the morning, are great at picking up scattered/diffuse light, and work harder for you until later in the day. We know this first hand! We have mono crystalline panels mounted on the roof of our family home here in Hua Hin.

The plot thickens. We now sell Seraphim “Tier 1” and Sunfree (European Standard / 380W / mono crystalline / black frames) solar panels with an added technology called “PERC.” Ok so what is PERC anyway? PERC is an added layer of “activated silicon” at the back of each of the solar cells that boosts power output from solar panels. This layer acts to convert more sun energy reflected off of the back of the solar cells into solar power. The new layer also prevents free flowing electrons from being captured by the silicon atoms located in the solar cells. Silicon atoms capturing electrons is bad for solar. Remember, the flow of electrons (called electric current or electricity) is what powers your home. More free electrons = More electricity / power output from your solar system to your property. I hope this is explained in a way that you can best understood :0)

Just putting in an important note here. The majority of solar systems Solar Shop Hua Hin has installed thus far include premium and Tier 1 mono crystalline and now PERC panels. The quality of the solar system as a whole really counts. Together with, being honest, superb European Standard inverters, very good electrical works and solar system designs, the systems are able to produce a significant more amount of output compared to other systems. Just adding that, things will get even more exciting as we install more systems with our new “Tier 1” Seraphim and Hyundai Energy panels with very high panel efficiency, PERC technology and better performance at higher temperatures.

Also adding in a caveat here. If you are on a budget, like silver frames, and feel that the added output from mono crystalline panels do not warrant the higher price tag, poly/multi crystalline panels will still work well for your solar system. And that’s why we also offer very good Sunfree 330W poly crystalline panels in our stock. One of our clients used our poly crystalline panels for the ‘off-grid’ hybrid system with Lithium ion batteries for their tourist resort along the coast in the Hua Hin area. They are very happy with the panels and solar system performance. Another of our customers has reported that his poly crystalline panels helped to significantly reduce his monthly electric bill. Just to further note. We believe that poly crystalline panels are important to consider when choosing a solar system. Solar Shop Hua Hin is about to make available a new Seraphim “Tier 1” poly crystalline panel product line / supply. That way we will cover all bases.

We hope this helps!

If you would like a FREE, NO COMMITMENT CONSULTATION regarding a solar system for your property please feel free to contact us today at:

M: 089 824 1963.

E: huahinsolar@gmail.com,

facebook: Hua Hin Solar

Line: Hua Hin Solar.

We will be happy to hear from you anytime.

Solar Shop Hua Hin is Hua Hin’s most dependable solar installation and equipment supply company. Highly recommended (see Testimonials from Our Valued Customers) with over 20 years experience in the Hua Hin area. With dozens of installations year-to-year we are motivated by quality of our solar systems and services and deliver on follow-up customer care. Solar Shop Hua Hin energy systems are designed to significantly reduce your electricity bill, increase the re-sale value of your home and allow you to produce your own clean energy. Our expert specialists also perform certified electrical services and roof repairs. Choose a solar solution taylor-made to suit your home or business. We install solar systems with superb quality / yields and exceptional service and long-term customer care, and all this at an affordable price. 5, 12 and 25 year warrantees come standard with finance and installation options available. Talk to our dealer store today! Call us at 089-824-1963 089-614-9234.